Chatham Islands Activity Highlights
The Chatham Islands make up New Zealand's last frontier and offer visitors the perfect opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy fishing, walking and wildlife watching.
Chatham Islands Activity Highlights Overview
Mostly uninhabited, New Zealand Outlying Islands are a haven for numerous native bird, plant, fungi, coral and animal life. Take an eco tour and discover a world not seen by many.
The Chatham Islands are known for their peace and tranquility, indeed the first settlers on the islands, the Moriori were known for their peaceful nature and non-violent resolutions for any disputes between them. Visitors to the islands can really escape from juggling the pressures of busy, working lifestyles and enjoy a number of activities on the Chatham Islands, being as relaxed or as energetic as they choose to be.
Popular activities with visitors include bird-watching, hiking, fishing, diving, photography and beach combing.
Activities on the Chatham Island
There are a wide range of activities available on the islands, with something to suit everyone. Local hosts are happy to provide information about local tours and activities and to help make sure that you know where to go, when to go and who to go with.
- Birdwatching – Birdwatching opportunities on the Chatham Islands are truly superb. There are ocean and coastal-dwelling birds and 18 species that are unique to the islands.
- Beachcombing and fossicking – With beautiful, wide, sandy and often empty beaches, you can enjoy hours of beach combing and fossicking for natural treasures.
- Bushwalking and hiking – There are a multitude of reserves and DOC (Department of Conservation) walking tracks on the islands including for example:
- Waitangi Bay Beach – An easy 2 hours beach walk from Waitangi to Red Bluff. Seabirds (including giant petrels and Chatham Island oystercatchers) are often seen.
- Ocean Mail Scenic Reserve – The reserve has a variety of walks including the Aster Walk – A 20 minute return walk to see the Chatham Island swamp aster in flower between November and March and the Wetland Walk: A 15 minute loop walk to view peat lakes and wetland vegetation. The beach is accessible at the shelter and picnic tables.
- Henga Scenic Reserve Walk – This reserve features spectacular regeneration of kopi and mahoe. The walk takes you through the bush out onto coastal dunes for stunning views. 1 hour 30 minute loop walk.
- JM Barker (Hapupu) National Historic Reserve Walk – One of the only two national historic reserves in New Zealand, Hapupu protects rakau momori (Moriori tree carvings). The walk through the bush takes you past some of the unique rakau momori. 20 minute loop walk.
- Nikau Bush Conservation Area Walk – A bush track that takes you through forest glades and impressive regeneration beneath the towering nikau palms. 1 hour loop walk.
- Thomas Mohi Tuuta Scenic Reserve (Rangaika) – The track is to a route standard only and requires you to have a good level of fitness and orientation skills. The 6 hour return walk takes you to views of the South Coast and Pitt Island. Contact the DOC Area Office for more information and a map.
- Fishing – Fishing and fish processing is one of the islands’ main economies and catches include lobster, paua, kina, groper and blue cod. Guided fishing trips are available through accommodation providers and fishing tour operators. Visitors must abide by fishing rules and not exceed daily catch allowances (rules available from the local MAF office or your host).
- Scuba diving and snorkeling – There are excellent dive sites around Chatham and Pitt Islands for divers to explore including a number of shipwrecks.
- Photography – The islands are truly a photographer’s dream, with dramatic scenery and weather changes providing an awesome backdrop to wildlife photography.
Useful Chatham Islands Links
To help plan your Chatham Islands holiday choose from the main categories below:
Chatham Islands Region Information
Key information and facts about the Chatham Islands.
Major activities and attractions on the Chatham Islands.