Getting to the Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands consists of two main islands, Chatham Island and Pitt Island located approximately 800 kilometres east of New Zealand.
Chatham Island is just a two-hour flight from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports with domestic airline Air Chathams(opens in new window) operating regular weekday flights to Chatham Island Airport (Tuuta Airport).
Air Chathams also operates flights from Chatham Island to Pitt Island. This is a small six-seater plane and is also the islands' freight plane. Booking in advance is essential.
Auckland to Chatham Island, 2hrs 15min
Wellington to Chatham Island, 2hrs
Christchurch to Chatham Island, 2hrs
Chatham Island to Pitt Island, 20 minutes
Families, businesses and regular flyers can take advantage of the Air Chathams Multi-pass tickets.(opens in new window)
About the Chatham Islands
A far-flung adventure
When you visit the Chatham Islands you are at the remotest eastern point of New Zealand and the furthest internal flight possible.
Here are some handy things to know;
- There are only 660 local residents
- The islands get approximately 2,000 visitors per year
- The time zone is 45 minutes ahead of the mainland
- There is no cellphone coverage on the Chatham Islands
- Passports aren't required to fly to the Chatham Islands
- The currency on the islands is the New Zealand dollar
- Taxis don't exist (organise transport with your accommodation hosts)
As most goods, including fuel, must be transported to the island by ship or plane, expect your visit to be a little more costly than on the mainland. You can be sure that is well worth the extra investment.
Accommodation and transport are limited on the islands and with most of the land privately owned, is it essential to book tours well in advance.
Home of the Moriori
The Chatham Islands were first inhabited by the Moriori people. European sealers and whalers were the next to arrive, followed by Māori from the New Zealand mainland.
Descendants of Moriori still live in the Chatham Islands and visiting Kopinga Marae(opens in new window) will give you great insights into the culture.
The overall shape of the uniquely designed marae represents an albatross in flight, a bird that has great cultural significance to Moriori. It is the base for the revival of Moriori language, cultural traditions, wānanga (meeting together to learn) and community and school events.
Visitors will hear stories of the Moriori people and their ancient covenant of peace and view intricate carvings and artwork.
A trip to view the statue of Tommy Solomon (Tame Horomona Rehe), the last full-blooded Moriori, at Manukau east of Owenga, is also worthwhile.