Trial of Strength:
Adventures and misadventures on the wild and remote subantarctic islands

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"Her richly illustrated book is a lively study of the ecological and human history of these wild but unquestionably fascinating places. Riddell has a gift of revealing the personalities who arrived – willingly or otherwise – on these remote shores."
— NZ Listener

“Riddell writes in a way that will both engage people who know little of the islands and evoke a sense of place for those that have been there.”
Otago Daily Times

Trial of Strength kept me glued to the pages from beginning to end with its collection of gritty tales.”
– Booksellers NZ


They’re not covered in ice, but they can be brutally cold. Despite our globalized, 21st-century world of frequent flying, they are rarely visited. Most of them are uninhabited by humans, yet they are teeming with wildlife.

My great-great grandmother, Harriet Cripps, was one of very few people to have been born on the wind-lashed subantarctic islands. Fascinated with how my British ancestors found themselves in one of the most inhospitable, remote and remarkable environments on the planet, I took my own intrepid journey of discovery there in 2016.

The subantarctic islands in the ‘Roaring Forties’ and ‘Furious Fifties’ latitudes circle the globe above Antarctica. They are buffeted by wind and rain all year round, and are full of exotic plants and animals.

Sometimes known as the ‘forgotten islands’ due to their remoteness, New Zealand and Australia’s subantarctic islands are protected World Heritage sites, recognised globally for their unique environments. The islands have also had their share of human visitors over the centuries, including intrepid explorers, plundering sealers, optimistic farmers, isolated astronomers, desperate castaways, wartime coastwatchers, pioneering scientists, and adventure tourists.

Trial of Strength includes stunning photos that bring these historical tales to life for a 21st-century audience. I visited the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island in 2016, and in the book I share my story of sailing over the storm-lashed Southern Ocean to visit my great-great grandmother’s remote birthplace.

The subantarctic islands are beautiful, fragile places that are seldom visited and vulnerable to change. These memorable stories will leave you with a lasting appreciation for some of the most remote parts of our planet.

Trial of Strength is on sale from book stores in NZ, Australia, the UK, the USA, and Canada. Buy now from Exisle.

Campbell Island, 2016

Campbell Island, 2016

Enderby Island, 2016

Enderby Island, 2016