Chatham Islands Travel Guide

The Chatham Islands archipelago is about 800 kilometres east of Christchurch and 680 kilometres south-east of the South Island, and includes 10 islands within a radius of 40 kilometres. Chatham and Pitt are the two biggest of the cluster. The islands are famous for their isolation, lack of development, and unique bird and plant life. It is the easternmost region in New Zealand.

The majority of the islands’ land is fern or pasture, with the inclusion of some dense forest and peat bogs as well.

The islands have an abundance of coastal and volcanic sights to enjoy, such as the basalt columns at Ohira Bay (which are on private property and can be seen with permission). The islands were created 65 million years ago through volcanic activity, with evidence of such activity to be seen throughout.

Chatham Island is powered by diesel generators and wind turbine power. It is not a destination sought out for state-of-the-art theme parks, but for its “off-the-beaten-track” appeal and its distinctive natural environment.

Chatham has a large population of New Zealand fur seals, which were nearly wiped out through hunting in the 19h century but which have recovered.

The islands have a number of bird species, 18 in total, found nowhere else, including the Chatham oystercatcher, Forbes’ parakeet, the Chatham snipe and the Chatham gerygone. 

Other sights include 200-year-old rock and tree carvings made by the original inhabitants of the islands, the Moriori people.

The islands have a temperate climate, with average high and low temperatures of 17.8 and 11.7 degrees Celsius in January, and 10.4 and 5.5 in July.

Tuuta Airport at Waitangi, Chatham Islands, is served by Air Chathams, flying from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.