Chatham Islands

The Chatham Islands (Rekohu in the indigenous Moriori language) are the eastern-most settled islands in New Zealand. The islands are in their own time zone, 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand time; the International Date Line jogs eastward to keep them on the same calendar day as the rest of New Zealand.

The islands lie 860 km east of Christchurch, in the middle of the "Roaring Forties". Steeped in culture and history, these islands are on the very edge of civilisation. Experience Moriori culture, experience Rekohu.

Understand

The Chatham Islands consist of the main island, Chatham Island itself, with a population of 600, smaller Pitt Island with about 40 inhabitants, and a number of rocky outcrops. The islands are volcanic in origin and have a unique and sensitive habitat that supports many rare and endangered species.

The original people of the islands are the Moriori, who were descended from the Maori of mainland New Zealand, but who developed their own culture and variant of the language. In 1835 Maori settlers from the mainland arrived, massacred and enslaved the Moriori.

Get in

By plane

The only way for visitors to get to the Chathams is via scheduled or chartered air service. Air Chathams fly 4 days a week (6 days a week in summer), from either Christchurch, Auckland or Wellington. The plane is based in the Chathams and flies to mainland New Zealand in the morning, then back to the Chathams in the afternoon. As it's part of New Zealand, there are no passport or visa requirements and no border controls on arrival from the mainland.

You should book or ensure accommodation before you board a flight for the Chathams, as during the popular months of the tourism season, between October and April, accommodation can be severely limited. There are no same-day return flights, so once there you have to stay at least one night.

Although flying to the Chathams and back is not cheap, it is worth it. Even the mainland school groups that fly there for school camps and stay at Kopinga Marae get value for money by chartering a flight one way. Anyway, you don't have a choice on how you get there, unless you happen to own an aeroplane.

However, when you get off that aeroplane, if you haven't pre-organised transport, you will have to walk, and it is a long way into town.

By boat

There are freight shipping services to the Chatham Islands, but currently no passenger service.

Vessels can call at the Chathams and there are a number of "safe" harbours for shelter if the need arises. Remember to notify the local policeman, or Ministry of Fisheries officer if you are entering New Zealand via the Chathams. If you want a wharf berthage then call the local harbour master as you near the Chathams and he will organise that.

Get around

There are several businesses on Chatham Island that will rent you a vehicle. Do not expect the flashest and latest in rental cars though. The cars "will" be warranted and safe, but they won't be exceptionally "flash".

Chatham Motors have a range of nice rental vans available as well and they provide pretty good service for both visitors and locals.

See

Basalt columns
Kahuitara Point, Pitt Island, seen from Hakepa

Do

Waitangi town

There is plenty to do on the Chatham Islands. The Chathams has some of the most spectacular scenery in all of New Zealand. Rugged coastlines with towering cliffs, boulder strewn beaches and wide sandy expansive beaches.

Eat

Sleep

You need to arrange accommodation before you arrive. The plane is based in the Chathams and flies to mainland New Zealand in the morning, then back to the Chathams in the afternoon. So if you get off the plane and find all the accommodation is full, you're stuck for the night. Most of the accommodation does get fully booked during the summer months, so make sure to book ahead.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, October 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.