The Chatham Islands are quite remote, (800k west from Christchurch) and are literally off the New Zealand radar; given the Islands global geographic position the Chatham Islands have their own time zone of plus 45 minutes on NZ time. That tiny spot to east of NZ.This is quite unique, and sets a positive feel for the visitor.
The Chatham Islands(that spot to the east of NZ) have a resident population of circa 600 and fishing, particularly Cray fishing and livestock are the main economic wealth producers. Tourism is not a major economic contributor at this time but could be.
There is an element of magic about visiting the Chatham Islands that starts when you arrive at the departure gate. The 50 year old Convair 580 airplane sets the scene; first in first served seating on the plane that shares space with cargo, plus informality with in-flight service that is just delightful.
On arrival; the drive to ‘down town’ Waitangi (the capital) that reveals gravel roads, drivers still salute each other as they pass, livestock roadside to catch the unwary driver, which sets the scene for a 'points of difference' visit when compared to the 'straight jacket' lifestyle left at home.
There is a significant Moriori and Maori heritage on the islands; and the locals are friendly engaging people. The Chatham Islands exude old worldly charm and lots of it.
Each of these regions have many beautiful scenery locations and contrasts.
Farming is located intermittently throughout the island, and there are sheltered ports that cater to the active crayfish industry.
The Chatham Islands have a number of memorials in various and sometime remote locations. The tribute to Tommy Solomon the last of the Moriori is the most high profile and first rate, but also the tribute to the 'Torotoro' Memorial and European Discovery at Kaingaroa are also worthy of a look. The War Memorial is represented by the Memorial Hall and the gardens
The Hotel Chathams overlooks the bay, and is a waterfront classic hotel. The pub is friendly and has a number of accommodation options, and services that include tours. The waterfront outlook is quite compelling and the pub is central to most social activity on the Chatham Islands.
Our visit was too short to amortize the air travel cost and we suggest a three or four night visit is the minimum period for the active tourist and a week stay at the Henga Lodge for the chill-out visitor. Pre-booking any accommodation and rental cars is essential. Our all up cost for two was 2.2k.
The Chatham Islands have a charm that was rarely replicated in our one hundred thousand kms of Australasian travel, and when in NZ is a recommended visit for the Bustout Traveler.