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Our Crash Course on the Chatham Islands

800km off the coast of the South Island, inhabited by a mere 660 people, we thought we’d take the time to give you our spin on an FAQ, and let you know some of our favourite things about the place we call home, the Chatham Islands.

 

When is the best time to visit the Chatham Islands?

We think September/October, through to March/April, with February being the warmest and most popular month to visit. We love the crisp winters here, but always be prepared to rug up warm and make sure to bring your wellies! 

 

How long should I stay?

From chatting with visitors over the years, we think around a week is a sweet spot for getting to know the rugged surroundings and the Islands' quirks.

 

Where can I buy kaimoana to bring home with me?

If you make your way over to Owenga, a small settlement on Chatham Island on the south side of Hanson Bay, you’ll find us right in the heart of Owenga Village! Chatham Island Food Co. is open Monday – Friday, 9 am  3 pm for you to buy your seafood.

 

Welcome, from us to you!Is there a Chatham Island Food Co tour I can go on?

Absolutely! We’re thrilled to be able to bring customers on a journey of the ins and outs of our export operations in action. Each of our guided tours gives guests the chance to learn about Chatham Island Food Co’s story from founder and 7th generation islander Delwyn Tuanui, and includes: a behind the scenes look at the company's diverse processing facilities, including a viewing of our Pāua and Kina live wells, lessons in processing and local seafood delicacies, and of course, the opportunity to purchase some of the world’s most sought-after seafood!

 

The view of our beautiful little corner at Owenga. This is Chatham Island Food Co.
Master filleters at work! One of the processing bays at Chatham Island Food Co.
You can read a bit more about our tours by clicking here, and get in touch with our Logistics Manager to book a tour by emailing jackie@chathamislandfood.com or giving her a buzz on (03) 3050 572.

 

Is Pitt Island worth a visit?

Without a doubt! There are day tours and overnight stays available through the beautiful Flowerpot Bay Lodge. The day tours feature some of Pitt Islands’ most incredible scenic viewpoints, and we absolutely recommend a visit.

An image of Smugglers Cove on Pitt Island by our dear friend Eileen.
What are your favourite facts about the Chatham Islands?

There are so many! The Chatham Islands have so many curiosities that we love.

Firstly, our little island is on its own time zone to the rest of Aotearoa! The Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead, which visitors are often surprised to learn.

Secondly, the Chatham Islands are separated by two bays and a lagoon named Te Whanga Lagoon. The lagoon contains many treasured fossilised shark teeth, which makes for a fun game with little ones to find and point them out at Blind Jim’s Beach!


A Chatham Island rarity, a fossilised shark tooth.
Lastly, there are 18 bird species that are totally unique to the Chatham Islands, if you fancy yourself a bird watcher.

A rookery of albatross waiting at the side of the boat. Another beautiful image by Robbie Lanauze.

A note on flights, currency, and everything in-between:

Flights

The Chatham Islands are accessible by plane. Direct from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, at least weekly. Flight times between 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes. Schedule changes seasonally, with more flights added in summer. You can find out more about flying to the Chatham Islands here.


Cellular coverage and WIFI

There is some cell phone coverage available on the Island, but being a remote place, it has the tendency to be a bit spotty! Local national rates for landlines apply, and the internet is available at accommodation providers, and through mobile data.

Currency

The Chatham Islands trade in NZD. There is an ANZ Bank ATM located in Waitangi General Store, as well as at Hotel Chatham. Eftpos and credit cards are widely accepted, but some of our little local art and craft suppliers prefer cash.

Transport

There are no taxis or Ubers available on the Chatham Islands. Rental cars are available but must be booked in advance. Your chosen accommodation provider will be able to provide you with information regarding specific transfers from the airport to your accommodation.


More resources

Here are some of our favourite websites about the Chatham Islands that may also aid in planning your visit.

https://chathamislands.co.nz/
https://chathams.co.nz/resources/
https://www.newzealand.com/int/chatham-islands/
https://www.cic.govt.nz/your-council/visit-the-chatham-islands/