Chatham Islands Tourism Guide

The beautiful island is home to the place considered to be the first inhabited land and the land to first see the rising sun. The land's hospitality is very important to the inhabitants as you can book your accommodation with your host in advance and they will pick you up from the airport and take care of you throughout the trip until you have to be left at the airport once again.

The Islands are the best experience for those looking to get close to nature and be in touch with nature at an intimate level. The Islands are visited by tourists most in February so book in advance in case you are travelling then, else the Autumn months are extremely pleasant and a great time to visit the Islands as well.

Chatham Islands Scenic view of the Chatham Islands

Location

The Chatham Islands are an archipelago located around 800km off the east coast of the southern islands. They are formed by the ten islands of which two of the largest islands are Chatham and Pitt. The Islands include the easternmost point of New Zealand.

Getting there

The Tuuta airport on Chatham Island is the best and most preferred option of travel to get to the Islands. Flights are running from Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington to the airport. There is also the option of travelling by ship from Timaru to the Chatham Islands in case you are looking for a sea adventure.

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Experiences

Walks

Waitangi Bay Beach Waitangi Bay Beach

The beach walk on the Waitangi Bay Beach is a short 2-hour walk but is worth every minute owing to the beautiful landscape and walk by the coast. The walk starts from the beach and takes you to the red bluff and en route you see many fish cultures.

The Ocean mail scenic reserve located in the Islands is home to many walks that will keep you up and about. The most frequented walks are the Aster and Wetland walk which are both less than half an hour in duration but gives you a great view of the lakes, wetland, and natural landscape of the islands.

The Hapupu National Historic Reserve Walk is one of only two Reserves in all of New Zealand. The walk takes you through the protected Maori tree carvings which are lovely to see. It is around a 30-minute loop track walk.

The Thomas Mohi Tuuta Scenic Reserve walk requires a good level of fitness from those taking it on. It is a 6-hour loop track walk that takes you through the South Coast of Pitt Island.

The Pitt Island is also home to some flora and fauna tours as the Island is home to around 21 endemic species and is a haven for nature lovers

You should also head to Mt Hakepa which is around a 3-hour walk to be the first to see the sunrise at dawn. The Bushwalk is also highly recommended as a trip to the Islands is incomplete without this walk.

Sunrise from Mt Hakepa Sunrise from Mt Hakepa

Fishing

You can take on both rock and boat fishing on these Islands as they have great opportunities and spots for people to enjoy fishing in a calm and relaxed environment while feeling at one with nature. You can also get your fresh catch cooked for your meal and feel proud about putting a meal for yourself. Boat fishing trips usually last half a day and you can catch plenty of different varieties of fish like Blue Cod, Hapuka, Kingfish, and Blue Moki.

Hunting

It is also a famous tourist activity here especially for the wild sheep of the Island which is not reared but only hunted at the same time it is preserved and hunting is managed to ensure the species do not become extinct.

Wild Sheep Wild Sheep

The Birdwatching opportunities are also plenty on the Islands as the Island inhabitors believe themselves to be very close to nature.

It is also essential you don’t miss out on water sports and under-water adventures on this Island as the snorkeling and scuba diving experiences here are out of this world.

Food and Drink

You must try the world-class fresh seafood in the Islands, especially the blue cod and the crayfish.

Blue cod dish Blue cod dish

The best places to eat here would be The Den Kitchen and Hotel Chathams.

Another delicacy famous on the Islands is the locally produced Honey which you can get from Chatham cottage gifts and Admiral Gardens. Do try out the Go Wild Freeze Dried Honey that you do not get anywhere else.

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Staying there

The places recommended to stay here are Hotel Chatham, Admiral Gardens Cottage, Henga Lodge, and Awarakau Lodge.

Hotel Chatham Hotel Chatham

Ensure that you have checked the eligibility for your New Zealand eTA. If you are from a Visa Waiver country then you can apply for an eTA regardless of the mode of travel (Air / Cruise). United States citizens, European citizens, Hong Kong citizens, and United Kingdom citizens can apply online for New Zealand eTA. United Kingdom residents can stay on New Zealand eTA for 6 months while others for 90 days.

Please apply for a New Zealand eTA 72 hours in advance of your flight.