Snares Penguins, which inhabit the still more remote Snares Islands. Picture: StormPetrel1,

Auckland - A group of funny little islands, cut out from the rest of the world, living in their own mythical past?

No, not post-Brexit Britain - well, not yet anyway - but an apt description of New Zealand, whose extreme isolation has allowed nature to take its own course for the past 80 million years.

I speak for myself, but I don't think I will ever reach peak penguin, such is my fascination for these cute flightless birds - a fondness shared by many, if the popularity of penguins across popular culture signifies anything. I still nurse fond memories of the recent Channel 5 series Penguin A&E With Lorraine Kelly.



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Now we have New Zealand - Earth's Mythical Islands: in that country, you'll be interested to learn, there are more species of penguin than anywhere else in the world. Who knew? I'm surprised Lorraine hasn't emigrated. There is, for example, a type called Snares Penguins, which inhabit the still more remote Snares Islands. They have a slightly stooped gait, prominent beaks and a tuft of unruly hair that will put you in mind of our new foreign secretary each time you see them manoeuvring around their own unusual terrain, a forest. Maybe when Boris Johnson gets round to visiting New Zealand he will be introduced to these miniature Bozza-look-a-likes. Maybe in 80 million years' time the whole of the British population, cut off from the rest of the world, will be a race of pure euro-sceptics.



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You will also be enchanted, I think, by the other unique flora and fauna, though in this first episode the famous kakapo bird, a flightless parrot with a humanoid face, failed to put in an appearance. I remember first seeing one almost 30 years ago in Last Chance to See, a series devoted to near-extinct creatures presented by Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams. Thankfully the kakapo, which had no natural predators until man arrived with rats, cats and dogs, is still with us. So is the Jurassic era mini-dinosaur Tuatara, the kiwi and the magnificently named Dusky Dolphin.

The only thing you may not enjoy is when the show goes off-remit, exploring magnificent Maori carvings and gazing in wonderment at a herd of 29 000 Merino sheep up a mountain. Magnificent, yes, but not wild.

The Independent