4 Incredible Nature Experiences You Can Have On Lord Howe Island
It may be tiny, but Lord Howe Island packs an Attenborough-sized punch. This World Heritage-listed island – a seven-million-year-old shield volcano – just two hours by plane from Sydney is a haven for amazing nature experiences.
It’s nothing short of remarkable – and proof that good things really do come in small packages. The average visitor stays just three days – but with so much here for nature lovers, you could easily spend a week or two.
Climb Every Mountain
Lord Howe is criss-crossed with walking trails – ranging from easy strolls at sea level through ancient banyan trees and lush kentia palms, to moderate cliff-top hikes and the challenging 875m Mt Gower Climb, which is rated as one of the toughest and best treks in the world.
Goat House Cave on the southern side of the island is no less challenging, with the bonus of not needing a guide. It’s a thrilling ascent of Mt Lidgbird, so steep in sections that ropes have been fixed to help with the climb up.
For avid hikers, there is the Seven Peaks Walk run by Pinetrees Lodge. The six-day trek is the newest addition to the Great Walks of Australia collective and offers 45km of world-class hiking trails bookended by creature comforts and hotel stays.
A staggering 130 bird species live on or visit Lord Howe Island each year – including 14 species of seabirds that breed on the island.
From September to May, there is the mesmerising spectacle of thousands of Shearwaters as they return to the island each day at dusk. No less magical is the aerial dance of courting red-tailed tropicbirds off Malabar Cliffs – a ballet of somersaults and backward flights.
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From March to November, rare providence petrels mate in the tall trees on Mt Gower, where the slightest shout will cause them to fall to the ground. The endemic Lord Howe woodhen, brought back from the brink of extinction by locals, can be spotted year-round on the island, too.
A wander around Lord Howe Island on a Nature Tour with naturalist Ian Hutton OAM is a wonderful way to discover the island’s rare and endemic birds and seabird colonies.
Dive The Deep South
The pristine waters surrounding Lord Howe Island are teeming with vibrant coral reefs and a bounty of marine life, many of which are unique to the area. This is the world’s most southerly reef, a dazzling underwater world of trenches caves and volcanic drop-offs, and a bucket-list scuba site.
There are more than 60 dive sites brimming with 90-plus species of coral and over 500 species of fish. It’s a diverse ecosystem of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate fish made unique by its location at the crossroads of five major ocean currents.
Beginners and snorkelers should head to the Lagoon filled with colourful coral and schools of fish just metres from shore. Adventurous divers can take the plunge at Ball’s Pyramid, a spectacular dive site and the world’s tallest sea stack. Or a glass-bottomed boat tour with Lord Howe Environmental Tours is a great way to get out to the reef and learn more about the island’s unique marine ecosystem.
Hook A Big One
Fishing at Lord Howe Island is legendary. Thanks to a ban on commercial fishing, the protected marine park is an angler’s dream – with countless species and any number of ways to catch them.
There are dozens of hot spots to hook monster kingfish, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. In the lagoon’s shallow waters, anglers can try their luck hooking trevally, bluefish, silver drummer and the endemic double-header wrasse. While close to the jetty, there lives a virtually untouched game fishery of black, blue and striped marlin.
There are more than 10 charter fishing boats that operate from Lord Howe Island, with full or half-day hire and everything provided. Ned’s Beach Sanctuary Cove is a chance to see silvery fish up close and join in the island ritual of hand-feeding the spangled emperors, wrasse and kingfish that gather there.
(Lead image: Peter Pham / Flickr)