Chatham Islands: The Wild Side

enquire now 8 Days From NZD $6,975 pp
Small group
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4-11 Jan 2022 @ NZD$7,175 per person

Discover the Chatham Islands along with the many bird species that call these islands home. Enjoy a small boat trip to watch the bird life that spends its time at sea as well as sail close by SE Island and Mangere Island, these islands are central to the survival story of the Chatham Island Black Robin. Asides from learning about the birdlife you will meet the locals and visit each corner of the island to see the various historical and geographical sites.

The Chatham Islands are New Zealand’s eastern most outpost, the first place in the world to welcome the new day and a treasure trove of endemic plants and animals that have evolved in isolation and make these islands one of New Zealand’s most biologically important regions.

Originally colonized by the Moriori people who created a unique lifestyle and society on the islands while living in isolation from the outside world on the abundant natural resources of the sea and land. Later European and Maori arrivals brought their own history and traditions which have melded together to create the culture of the Chatham Islands. Today many locals are descended from Moriori genealogy, a history and culture that you can discover during your stay.

The Chatham Islands lie at the eastern extremity of the Chatham Rise and were formed by a combination of volcanic activity and uplift of the underlying basement rocks to create the low lying rolling landscape of the main island while the outlying smaller islands are the remains of individual volcanic events. The fauna and flora of the Chatham’s has strong affinities to the main islands of New Zealand but through isolation many species have evolved to the local climate becoming unique to the islands. The oceanic climate ensures a wide diversity of species are able to flourish while the ocean brings its own unique abundance of sea life including the albatross and petrels that breed primarily on the offshore Islands.

Our Chatham Islands program is designed from our long experience of travelling and working in these remarkable islands to give you the greatest opportunity to experience all that the islands are able to offer.


• Enjoy the history, culture, geology, flora and fauna of the island

• Learn about the unique Chatham Islands birds and plants

• Explore the basalt columns of Ohira Bay

• Visit Pitt Island, exploring the islands nature reserves

• Learn about the Moriori people and visit the Moriori Kopinga Marae

• Spend a full day exploring the outer islands of the Chathams from the water including – SE Island and Mangere

• Travel with Mike Bell, one of the foremost experts on the Chatham Islands birdlife

• Learn about the work of the Chatham Island Taiko Trust

Hotel Chatham

The Forget-me-not Suites: 

These nine spacious five star suites offer you luxury, space and views for your ultimate Island holiday! They were opened in 2020, so offer you a fresh modern stay in the heart of the Chatham’s.


Fish, freshly caught from the converging current waters around the Chathams, is a specialty at Hotel Chatham. Depending on what’s just been caught, you’ll have the opportunity to try local seafood delicacies including crayfish, hapuku or groper, blue cod and paua. And if seafood isn’t your thing, there are plenty of menu choices too. As well as New Zealand wines and brews, Hotel Chatham is the only place you’ll enjoy the local craft beer Breezy Brew lager with a hint of Toni’s Chatham Island wild honey.

Our Chatham Islands program begins at Christchurch Airport where we gather prior to flying to the Chatham Islands at 1pm. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the Hotel Chathams in Waitangi which is our home away from home for the week and the base for our exploration of the Chatham Islands.


This morning we drive to Kaingaroa passing Te Whanga Lagoon as we make our way to the Far North East of the island. Here the coastline is a mixture of sweeping white sand beaches interrupted only by occasional headlands, on these headlands both Chatham and Pitt Islands Shags are often seen as well as Fur Seals breeding on the rocks below. You will see some of the best examples of the Chatham’s unique coastal vegetation plus Kaingaroa is historically important as one of the first areas settled by Europeans. Nearby we have the privilege of visiting the Hapupu Reserve where the Kopi trees still bear the enigmatic engravings of the Moriori.


Today is dedicated to exploring the outer islands in the South East of the Chathams, and the incredibly rich waters that surround the islands. Weather conditions permitting we will travel by boat which gives opportunities for spotting some of the endemic seabirds including Chatham Albatross, Buller’s Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Petrels, Prions and Shearwaters that all breed locally. Adjacent to Pitt Island are two of the most significant islands in New Zealand conservation and we plan to sail close by both SE Island and Mangere. These islands are central to the survival story of the Chatham Island Black Robin and provide a refuge for a number of other critically endangered birds including New Zealand Shore Plover and Forbes Parakeet, both of which we will be on the lookout for today.


In the North West of the Chatham’s there are extensive farms, fern lands and striking volcanic cones. Travelling to the end of the road at Waitangi West we find more sweeping white sand beaches and here there is the opportunity to look for the endemic Chatham Island Oyster Catcher. On the lower slopes of Maunganui we will visit the stone cottage, built entirely of local materials including mortar made from burnt pipi shells. At Ohira Bay we will explore the massive columnar basalt columns that are nearly 80 million years old.


This morning we plan to fly to Pitt Island, the second largest Island in the Chatham’s and the only other inhabited island, with a population of just 45, life here is generally peaceful. We plan to spend the day here exploring the islands nature reserves, visiting Mt Hakepa and enjoying lunch hosted at the Flower Pott Lodge.


The south coast of Chatham Island is completely different to the rest of the island, rising to higher elevations and still retaining significant areas of vegetation that thrives in the thick covering of peat that blankets the landscape. The enigmatic Taiko or Magenta Petrel was rediscovered breeding along the Tuku River and is now intensively managed to ensure its ongoing survival. A visit to the Awatotara Reserve is an excellent opportunity to see a great example of community lead conservation making a real difference as the forest regenerates and birdlife flourishes, be on the lookout today for the endemic Chatham Island Pigeon, Tomtit and Fantail and Warbler. We are planning to work with the Chatham Island Taiko Trust during our visit to provide the opportunity to spend time with the researchers from the trust to see and learn more about their invaluable and ground breaking conservation work in protecting the critically endangered Taiko along with other species including Chatham Island Petrel and Chatham Albatross.


Our last full day in the Chatham’s and an opportunity to focus on the islands history and culture, this morning we make our way to the fishing village of Owenga where you will be able to see the statue commemorating Tommy Solomon, the last full blooded Moriori. Standing atop the Rangaiki Cliffs with their 250m high sheer drop to the sea below there are amazing views on a clear day to Pitt and Mangere Islands as well as out to the seldom seen 44’s. The Kopinga Marae is an expression of Moriori spirituality and culture and an opportunity for you to learn about the history of the first inhabitants of the Chatham Islands (known to Moriori as Rekohu).


After breakfast this morning we make our way to the airport for our return flight to Christchurch where we expect to arrive at midday


• Return air travel on Air Chathams
• Seven night’s accommodation
• All meals including continental breakfast / picnic lunches / buffet dinners
• All sightseeing and entry fees as per itinerary
• Full day Pitt Island tour including flights and lunch
• Full day boat charter to discover Mangere, Little Mangere and South East Islands
• A 90 page ‘Discover the Chatham Islands’ booklet and map on arrival


• Cost of travel to/from Christchurch airport
• Travel Insurance
• Personal purchases – drinks with meals/souvenirs etc.


Imaages courtesy of WildEarth Travel