Visit the Chatham Islands and be among the first people to see the light of the new day.

Located east of the South Island, the 'Chathams' are an area of New Zealand famous for their isolation and extensive wilderness. The Chathams consist of around 40 islands and islets, of which two are populated. The largest, Chatham Island, is flanked by towering cliffs to the south and waterways, peat bogs and sandy beaches to the north. The most striking feature is the large central lagoon (180 sq km), and there are also a number of shallow lakes. Chatham Island's chief township is tiny Waitangi (approximately 300 people).

The other main island, Pitt Island, has a forested centre and a coastline of wild cliffs, headlands and beaches. It is this combination of rugged coastline, beaches, forests and waterways that make the Chathams such an intriguing and exciting destination. There are scheduled flights to Chatham from Christchurch and Wellington. Once you arrive, hiking is a great way to explore the islands, though vehicles can be hired on Chatham Island. Most road are unsealed, so take care when driving. Although officially part of the Canterbury region, the 860-kilometre distance between the Chathams and the mainland puts the islands 45 minutes ahead of standard New Zealand time. 

Geographic Location

The Chatham Islands are located 800km east of Christchurch, in the South Pacific Ocean. There are three main islands: Chatham, Southeast and Pitt. The largest of the islands, Chatham, has an area of 900 sq km and a population consisting mainly of fishermen and farmers.




While the islands are exposed and often surrounded by rough seas, the climate is temperate.


Air Chathams fly direct from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to Chatham Island; flight times vary from one to two hours. The airline also conducts sightseeing trips and flights to Pitt Island. Various tours can be taken between the different islands.


The only sizable town on the Chathams is Waitangi, with a few shops, a post office, and a hotel, motel, guesthouse and backpacker accommodation. It is also possible for visitors to homestay with the locals on Chatham and Pitt islands. Camping is permitted in many areas; ask permission from the landowner before setting up for the night.