The Chatham Islands, named Rekohu in the local Moriori language, is an archipelago located about 850 kilometres east of Christchurch and have been part of New Zealand since 1842. Far less visited than the main islands of the country, this group of 10 islands is a great place for people looking for pure solitude. It's not a tropical hideaway though and the islands can have autumn-ish weather for weeks or even months on end.
The islands cover around 966 square kilometres, nearly all of which consists of the two main islands: Chatham Island and Pitt Island. The islands are actually the only part of a rise below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, named the Chatham Rise, which starts near the South Island and is not deeper than about 1,000 metres. The islands are hilly with rocky cliffs, lagoons, beaches and sand dunes forming the coastline. The highest point is a mere 299 metres above sea level and is on the southern edge of Pitt Island. There are no real rivers, only a few small streams like Te Awainanga and Tuku. Only Chatham Island and Pitt Island are populated and the other islands are partly restricted or can only be visited with special permission.
The main settlement is Waitangi with around 300 inhabitants, out of a total of just around 750 people living on the two main islands, Chatham and Pitt.
The other islands have beautiful names like South East Island, The Fort, Little Mangere, Star Keys, The Sisters and The Forty-Fours, the latter being the easternmost part of New Zealand.
Weather here rarely is warm. Average temperatures are not particularly low either though, with daily highs in the coldest month, July, around 5-10 °C and possibly a few degrees below zero at night during some occasions. The difference between nights and days are generally very small though. Summers are mild but temperatures rarely rise to more than 20-22 °C during the warmest days.
Air Chathams has flights from Auckland, Wellington, Napier and Christchurch, taking around 2 hours. There are about 5 days with at least one flights, but not from every city every day. Napier has just seasonal flights (summermonths). It's wise to book ahead as seats are limited. The airport is located around 20 kilometres from Waitangi and if you booked accommodation you can be picked up if calling ahead. Prices are around NZ$650 for a return trip.
There are cargo ships serving the islands, but they hardly take any travellers. Prices are high and the going is slow, so it's better to fly there.
Air Chathams flies between Chatham Island and Pitt Island for around NZ$140 return.
There are few roads outside of Waitangi, but if you like you can rent cars from a few hotels and Chatham Motors. Quadbikes are also for rental and you can also rent a car plus driver. Otherwise, taking the bike is the best options. Roads are generally unpaved.
Otherwise try one of the Tour Options offered by the Chatham Lodge.
Some of the main lodges, like Chatham Lodge and Hotel Chathams offer food. Otherwise try the Waitangi cafe or Lakeside cafe.
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