DISCOVER THE CHATHAM ISLANDS
The Chatham Islands consist of 11 islands with only Pitt and Chatham inhabited by a total of around 600 people. Meet the Chatham Islanders, people who remain true to themselves, and experience their hospitality.
Visit heritage sites and discover the history of the Moriori, Maori, sealers, whalers, missionaries, farmers, and other settlers.
Discover the landscapes of volcanic peaks thrusting up out of rolling peatland, towering sea cliffs, the vast expanse of Te Whanga lagoon, and kilometers of beaches and the ever present ocean.
Discover the rich diversity of plant and bird life. The islands support 20% of New Zealand's threatened bird species and 11% of its threatened plants.See the critically endangered Chatham island Magenta, Albatross, pigeon, and Chatham Island shags, tui, red crowned parakeet, warbler, and oystercatcher.
Four full days of sightseeing are included with your local guide and friends and enjoy two free days to try your hand at fishing for the famous blue cod or take a day trip by air to even more remote Pitt Island.
The Chatham Islands were first settled over 800 years ago by the Polynesian ancestors of the Moriori people. They were the last of the major Pacific Islands to be settled. Moriori were unique in the world in that they made a conscious decision to set aside warfare and killing and to live in peace. This is known today as Nunuku's law named after the spiritual leader, Nunuku Whenua who laid down the covenant of peace over 600 years ago. This covenant remains unbroken by Moriori to this day - a world record for peace keeping! They named their island home Rekohu, meaning 'misty skies' after the mist that sometimes clings to the land.
Europeans arrived in 1791 and found the islands already inhabited by Moriori. Nevertheless Lieutentant Broughton 'claimed' the islands in the name of King George lll and renamed the main island 'Chatham' after his ship HMS Chatham. European settlement dates from the early 1800's with sealers, then whalers, and farmers.
In 1835 Ngati Tama and Ngati Mutunga from Taranaki obtained the use of the ship "Rodney" to transport approximately 500 people to Chatham Island. A further 400 arrived in December. True to their philosophy of peace Moriori welcomed the new settlers and refused to kill them as invaders. The Moriori subsequently became enslaved and many were killed and eaten. A list compiled by the surviving Moriori in 1862 showed 1,663 names of those killed or died from despair. 118 named men and 108 named women were shown as having been killed and eaten. Abject slavery (and occasional cannibalism) was the lot of those who survived the massacre and Moriori became virtually extinct. Maui Solomon is the last known full blooded Moriori and we visit his statue and some of the surviving tree carvings.
Projected programme: Order of sightseeing may be changed to suit the day of the week, weather, and any special activities available. All features will be included as well as visits to local crafts people etc. We will try and arrange a variety of dinners at different locations but this cannot be guaranteed.
Tours depart Auckland saturday 09 January and thursday 04 March.
Day 1. Thursday or Saturday. AUCKLAND - CHATHAM ISLAND (Rekohu) (D)
2pm. Depart Auckland airport aboard Air Chathams flight. Chatham island time is 45 minutes ahead of 'mainland' time and arrival is scheduled for 5.15pm. We will be met on arrival and after a quick photo stop at the Bluffs arrive at Chathams Hotel for dinner and accommodation for 7 nights. Enjoy a welcome dinner including succulent local crayfish tonight.
Day 2. Friday or Sunday CHATHAM ISLAND (BLD)
Today we explore the 'Wild West' including Wharekauri, Cape Young with its layered basalt rocks, Maunganui Stone Cottage, Waitangi West cattle station, Splatter Rock, Cape Young, and Port Hutt in Whangaroa Harbour. See the remains of the Thomas Currell, a minesweeper in the 2nd world war and now home great bird life. Also do a bit of bird spotting for the Chatham Islands Oyster Catcher. A picnic lunch is included, and dinner at the hotel.
Day 3. Saturday or Monday CHATHAM ISLAND (BLD)
Today we explore Owenga fishing village including the Kopinga Moriori Marae, the Chatham Island Food Co fish factory tour, and Tommy Solomons Memorial Statue. Also visit Studio 44's unique Maori and Moriori art treasures crafted from island natural resources. Picnic lunch included, and dinner at the hotel. Optional fishing excursion for the famous Chathams Blue Cod - fresh for dinner tonight if you catch them - extra expense.
Day 4. Sunday or Tuesday CHATHAM ISLAND FREE DAY. (BD)
Free to relax, try fishing from another location, hire a car and explore where you wish, or take a day tour by light aircraft 25 minutes to Pitt island. Discover the unique Maori and European history and nature during a 4x4 guided tour including Mt Hakepa, Glory Cottage, Flower Pott Jail, Waihere Bay. Lunch included at Flowerpot Bay Lodge. Cost of tour including transfers, flights, Pitt Island tour, and lunch $400 per person with minimum of 4. A maximum of 5 passengers can be carried per flight.
For those remaining on the main island lunch is not included today but a picnic lunch can be arranged through your hotel for extra expense if you wish.
Day 5. Monday or Wednesday. CHATHAM ISLAND (BLD)
This morning visit the local museum, Tiki Tiki hill, Cottage gift shop, River Onion Art Gallery, Jewellery Art Studio, and take a scenic drive along the South Coast with beach and farm walks including the Henga Nature Reserve for bird watching if you are interested.
Day 6. Tuesday or Thursday CHATHAM ISLAND (BLD)
Today explore the Te Whanga lagoon where the flying boats used to land, Ocean Mail scenic reserve, Kaingaroa village, Nikau bush walk, Muirsons Farm and Seal Colony, Hapupu Tree Carvings, Nunuku's Cave rock carvings with its Moriori dendroglyph's on the limestone walls, remains of the German Missionary settlement ,and the beautiful Admiral Gardens. skirmish Bay and the remains of a Sunderland Flying Boat. Picnic lunch included and dinner tonight may be a barbecue at the Admiral Gardens. We will also have the opportunity to hunt for sharks teeth.
Day 7. Wednesday or Friday CHATHAM ISLAND (BLD)
A final free day to catch up on anything you may have missed and/or enjoy some of the beautiful nature walks, fishing, or whatever you wish. A picnic lunch is included. Hire a rental car and explore on you own if you wish.
Day 8. Thursday or Saturday. CHATHAM ISLAND - AUCKLAND
Breakfast at the hotel before transferring to the airport. Departure is scheduled for 9.30am with arrival in Auckland scheduled for 11.30am. (Schedule subject to change).
PLease note: flights from Wellington to Chatham Island usually operate every monday and friday year round with additional flights on wednesdays during the summer. Flights between Christchurch and Chatham Island operate tuesdays year round. Form your own group and go any day subject to flight schedules.