Chatham Islands small group tour

From Auckland to Auckland
  • Stewart Island & Chatham Islands
  • Group
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Join our small group tour of the Chatham Islands departing Auckland. With expert local guides, you will explore this remote corner of New Zealand to its fullest, over 7 days. 

The Chatham Islands are one of the first places in the world to welcome in each new day. Sitting approximately 800 km off the coast of mainland New Zealand the Chatham’s archipelago consists of 11 islands, most uninhabited except for the vast numbers of birds who call the islands their home. The unique mix of breath-taking scenery, diverse birdlife, unique history and rich culture makes the Chatham Islands a destination like no other.

On this Chatham Island tour; taste the local cuisine (including the crayfish of course!), walk the gardens, forests and wetlands, witness the unique living kōpī trees carved by Moriori, explore local culture at a moriori marae and at local community clubs, visit seal colonies, explore the Basalt Columns and Nunuku's cave, hear stories of the past at Mount Manganui Stone Cottage, visit Port Hutt fishing village, Orenga fishing village and some unique experiences - how about shark teeth hunting??!!

During your time in the Chatham's, we will be staying in central Waitangi, in the new Forget Get Me Not Suites, these nine spacious five-star suites offer luxury, space and views for your ultimate island holiday.

This will certainly be a unique New Zealand experience!

Viva's Best Bits...

Experience life on the remote Chatham Islands, unique flora and fauna, along with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Your local hosts will treat you to the local food and way of life, visit a Moriori Marae and go hunting for shark teeth.

Visit the basalt columns located on private land in Ohira Bay, these columns were formed from lava flows around 80 million years ago. The area was also once used as a quarry by Moriori for tool making purposes.

Visit J.M. Barker (Hāpūpū) National Historic Reserve - one of only 2 National Historic Reserves in NZ (the other is the Waitangi Treaty grounds). Hāpūpū is where you will find remnants of rakau momori, or Moriori memorial tree impressions.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Auckland Chatham Island

Your adventure begins!

Board your flight from Auckland to Chatham Island on Air Chatham, departing at 1:30pm, arriving in the afternoon at 4:30pm. *Remember the Chathams has it’s own time zone 45 minutes ahead of mainland New Zealand.

Please note: Air Chathams requires proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test for all travellers using its service. Customers will be expected to travel with a physical or digital copy of their Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates (CVCs). If customers do not have a
CVC they must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test from at least 72 hours prior to departure.

Your host will greet you at the airport and we head to the Bluffs - a fantastic scenic spot to take some great late afternoon photographs.

Check into your accommodation, then we all get together for a welcome dinner, trying some of the local kia moana (seafood) - Chatham's crayfish!

Get to know your local hosts, who will be there to take excellent care of you over the following days, allowing you to get a great insight into island life.

Overnight in a Forget Me Not Suite. Each suite comes with either a king or two single beds, en-suite with shower, lounge area, fully equipped kitchen, veranda with sea views, Sky TV and WiFi.

Day 2
Chatham Island: The Wild West

Today it is time to discover "the Wild West", the west side of Chatham Island.

We step back in time to learn about early island life and explore the Historic Stone Cottage. Shrouded by Mount Manganui, Stone Cottage was built by German missionaries in the late 1860’s entirely from local stone and burnt pipi shells, it is the oldest dwelling on island.

Next we head to Waitangi West cattle station, an iconic sheep and beef farm on the island. Enjoy spectacular views, and stories from the locals, followed by a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon we explore Splatter Rock (also known to Moriori as Taniwha Rock). ‘Splatter Rock’ is a fascinating rock formation located at the western end of Wharekauri Beach and only accessible through private property (Wharekauri Station) on the north coast of Chatham Island, to the east of Cape Young.

It is a basalt lava formation which was erupted into soft sediments on the sea floor about five million years ago during the Pliocene Epoch, in water depths of 100 metres. It is remarkable because of its star-shape, with rounded lobes of basalt arranged geometrically about a central tub-like conduit.

At the end of the day there is time to relax, and enjoy another meal together at the local hotel.

Day 3
Chatham Island: Owenga Fishing Village

Today it is time to venture to the East and to the Owenga Fishing Village.

We will experience a Moriori Marae, Kopinga, the only marae on Rēkohu (Chatham Island) and an important central meeting place for Moriori. It was officially opened in January 2005 by Prime Minister Helen Clark at a ceremony attended by over 700 people, including the Māori queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. The building has a central pou which bears the names of over 1,500 ancestors who were alive in 1835, compiled by Moriori elders in 1862 and sent to Governor George Grey.

Kopinga Marae was designed to reflect elements of Moriori culture, and from the air the two arms of the building mimic the shape of human figures as seen on rākau momori (tree carvings). They also resemble the outstretched wings of the hopo (albatross), a bird whose feathers are a symbol of peace. The building has become an important facility for hosting hui (gatherings) and wānanga (a place of learning) as well as general community events.

We then head to Owenga Club for a community lunch before visiting their locally owned family run seafood business.

Located in Owenga right above the wharf, Chatham Island Food Co specialises in fresh, frozen and live seafood. They sell pristine seafood all over the world from right here on the Island.

Our exploration today finishes with a visit to the statue of the last ‘full blooded Moriori’ – Tommy Solomon, who died in 1933, aged 49. Your guide will tell you the story of this popular man who was a successful farmer and businessman. This statue was commissioned by the Solomon families in 1984 and stands as a memorial for all Moriori.

Visitors to the statue are encouraged to leave a koha (donation) of a gold coin towards the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and gardens.

*If you are keen on fishing you may opt for a days fishing excursion, instead of the above activities (additional cost and weather dependent).

Tonight we get together again for a dinner at our accommodation.

Day 4
Chatham Island: Waitangi town & South Coast (optional Pitt Island)

Waitangi town & the South Coast

This morning starts with a visit to the local community museum in Waitangi, exploring the natural and social history of the Chatham Islands. Isolation in the South Pacific Ocean has impacted on all aspects of the history of the Chatham Islands and made them special and very different from mainland New Zealand. Many plants and some birds and insects are found nowhere else, distinctly different land-forms and habitats are present. There is also a great diversity of marine life. The social history is also quite distinct with Moriori, European, and Maori interacting, and through innovation and adaption developing a unique lifestyle.

Afterwards, take a short walk up Tiki Tiki Hill (Conservation Area) to enjoy fantastic views over Petre Bay, and explore around the town on foot. Call in at the Cottage Gift shop which is full of unique local arts and crafts, and perhaps take a special momento home.

Lunch today will be a special treat, hosted by River Onion Art Gallery. This gallery sells “Chatham and Pitt Island” photography and art. Afterwards, perhaps enjoy a coffee sitting amongst the dunes looking out over Petre Bay.

For the afternoons activity we will drive the scenic South Coast, enjoying the landscapes and looking out for birdlife.

Our final stop for the day is a local Jewellery Art Studio for another unique shopping experience, before heading back to our accommodation in town and dinner.

**Option day tour: Pitt Island Day Tour, including return airport transfers, return flights to Pitt Island on Air Chathams 5 seat Cessna aircraft. Fully escorted tour showing all highlights of Pitt Island: Mt Hakepa, Glory Cottage, Flower Pott Jail, Waihere Bay, Moriori & European history. This tour would be instead of the activities listed above, additional cost, minimum numbers apply, weather dependent.

Day 5
Chatham Island: Kaingaroa Fishing Village

Kaingaroa Fishing Village - discovering the islands North East

The Nikau Bush Walk offers a easy peaceful forest walk to begin the day. Enjoy majestic palms and always keep an eye out for birdlife!

The outdoor adventures continues at Manauea (Ocean Mail) Reserve, a great place to relax, stroll and enjoy our picnic lunch. Explore the native forest and coastal sand dunes.

We continue exploring the coat at Muirson’s Farm and Seal Colony. Here, aviation buffs can see a Sunderland Flying Boat under restoration, something most people don’t expect to see on the Chathams. The farm is also home to a New Zealand fur seal colony and there is a good chance to spot some of these endangered mammals.

Our next stop offers another very unique experience, we head to the Hapupu tree carvings, at Hapupu National Historic Reserve, one of only 2 national historic reserves in New Zealand, where you will see the incredible Moriori tree carvings. Hundreds of years ago ancestors of the Moriori carved images onto the trunks of living trees.

This evening is another treat, we hope to be invited to the local social club for a buffet dinner.

Day 6
Chatham Island: Nunuku's cave & shark teeth hunting!

Located on the western side of Te Whanga Lagoon you will find Nunuku’s Cave, famous for limestone Moriori rock carvings (petroglyphs) of seals and birds. The cave was named after the Moriori leader, Nunuku Whenua who outlawed fighting amongst the warring clans of Moriori. Stroll along the shores of Te Whanga Lagoon, with its stunning limestone cliffs and layers of shell deposits, millions of years old.

Next, we are off to Te Matarae, a private reserve full of native plants, followed by a picnic lunch.

What more to do for entertainment on a remote island? It is time for shark teeth hunting! One of the Chatham Islanders favourite pastimes was shark teeth hunting. The oceans around the islands are full of sharks, so wandering along these beautiful beaches and lagoons you may be lucky enough to come across real shark teeth - a rare treasure.

Later, we make a visit to Henga Scenic Reserve, great for landscape photography, scenery and watching the cheeky weka! After a full day of sightseeing we head back to the hotel for dinner.

Day 7
Chatham Island: Port Hutt

One last full day of adventure on the island.

See the basalt columns at Ohira Bay, these striking natural features are the Chatham’s answer to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland!

Then on to Port Hutt, once home to the islands main harbour and full of colourful history, but unfortunately also the location of many shipwrecks, including the wreckage of HMNZS Thomas Currell, an auxiliary minesweeper that breached in the shallow port. We will enjoy our picnic lunch here followed by a beach walk to look out for seabirds.

Tonight's farewell dinner is a treat - a buffet dinner and true island hospitality at Admiral Garden. This stunning garden is designed to cater for the birds, bees and butterflies. See up close the Chatham Island Forget-Me-Not (myosotidium hortensia) along with many other endemic plants at the gorgeous Admiral Gardens.

Day 8
Chatham Island Auckland

Enjoy a final early breakfast on the island, as we bid a fond farewell and transfer to the airport for our flight back to Auckland, the bus departs at 7:30am for our 8:30am flight.

Leave island time and life behind...arrival back into Auckland is scheduled for 10:30am.

*Due to weather conditions and accessibility, your itinerary is subject to change.

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 7 nights accommodation Forget Me Not Suites
  • Included Copy 31 Single Supplement NZD 1330
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Daily continental breakfast
  • Included Copy 20 6 lunches
  • Included Copy 20 Seven dinners
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Return flights from Auckland to Chatham Island on AIR CHATHAM
  • Included Copy 20 Airport Transfers on Chatham Island
  • Included Copy 20 Six full day guided tours
  • Included Copy 20 Local hosts Toni Croon & Matilda Paku to take great care of you
  • Included Copy 20 Small group tour, maximum 18 people
  • Included Copy 31 Optional tours: Pitt Island tour, fishing tour

Activities

  • Included Wildlife and nature: look out for native birds and fur seals, forest, wetlands & sand dunes.
  • Included See hexagonal Basalt Columns formed over 80 million years ago.
  • Included See Rākau Momori - carvings incised or bruised into living kōpī trees by Moriori.
  • Included Historical sites and stories from the past - visit the Manganui Stone Cottage and Waitangi museum.
  • Included Explore art galleries, jewellery stores, and even a fish factory!
  • Included Experience local culture and life - Moriori Marae Kopinga, Admiral Gardens and more.
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Duration

7 days

Price from

$4,017 USD

Per person, sharing

including GST

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