The Southern Ocean contains some of the most isolated islands on Earth, and fundamental questions remain regarding their colonization and the connectivity of their coastal biotas. Here, we conduct a genetic investigation into the Cellana strigilis (limpet) complex that was originally classified based on morphological characters into six subspecies, five of which are endemic to the New Zealand (NZ) subantarctic and Chatham islands (44–52°S). Previous genetic analyses of C. strigilis from six of the seven island groups revealed two lineages with little or no within-lineage variation. We analysed C. strigilis samples from all seven island groups using two mitochondrial (COI and 16S), one nuclear (ATPase β) and 58 loci from four randomly amplified polymorphic DNA markers (RAPDs) and confirmed the existence of two distinct lineages. The pronounced genetic structuring within each lineage and the presence of private haplotypes in individual islands are the result of little genetic connectivity and therefore very high self-recruitment. This study supports the significance of the subantarctic islands as refugia during the last glacial maximum and adds to the knowledge of contemporary population connectivity among coastal populations of remote islands in large oceans and the distance barrier to gene flow that exists in the sea (despite its continuous medium) for most taxa.