One hundred and forty-eight species of benthic foraminifera are recorded from depths shallower than 80 m around the subantarctic Auckland (130 spp.) and Campbell (71 spp.) Islands, southwest Pacific. Comparisons with other circum-polar, subantarctic island groups suggest that they all have relatively low diversity, shallow-water benthic, foraminiferal faunas, with their sheltered harbours dominated by species of Elphidium, Notorotalia, Cassidulina, Haynesina and Nonionella-Nonionellina. More exposed environments are dominated by a small number of species of Cibicides, Miliolinella, Rosalina, Quinqueloculina and Glabratellidae. The extremely low species richness (three species) in high-tidal grass-dominated salt marsh on Campbell Island is similar to that reported from Tierra del Fuego at a similar latitude. The faunas of Auckland and Campbell Islands have their strongest affinities (70–75% species in common) with New Zealand’s three main islands, 460–700 km away. Ten percent of their fauna has not been recorded from mainland New Zealand, reflecting one endemic species and a small element of apparently subantarctic and bipolar-restricted species. Since there have been no shallow-water (<500 m) links to other lands since these two Miocene volcanic islands were formed, it is concluded that most benthic foraminiferal species have arrived in suspension in eddies of surface water, many since the peak of the Last Glacial.