Chatham Island



Chatham Island


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Chatham Island is famous for its mysterious and ancient habitats. Certainly, there are many stories and legends from the island, but not much has been revealed and recorded. A visit to this remote island will leave you trying to peel layers off and uncover even more information. We have brought to you a short blog in order to give you an idea of what it feels like to be on Chatham Island. Chatham Island, also known as Pitt Island, is New Zealand’s fourth largest island. It is a well loved island that has served many purposes in New Zealand’s history: A prison, a concentration camp, and the beautiful farm that helped make James Cook famous. And, today – it’s home to about 2,000 people who have made it their forever home.

Chatham Island



When Chatham Island was first colonized, it only had two small villages. These were the areas now known as Rawhiti – an original Maori settlement and Paraoa, a whaling station established by Laurence Balneavis in the early 1800s. The prisoners of war (POW) camp was where people began to settle Chatham Island at least 2 centuries ago between 1840 and 1860 according to Charters Towers Museum Today During the 1800’s, European settlers moved onto the island and established a fortified station for trading slaves. By 1872, this fort had been transformed into the notorious historic jail known as “Matehu” or “The Devil”. It was used until June 1914. After being released from prison in April of that year, Waka Nene formed Te Arawa and returned to Chatham Island with his Maori followers.


Like most other islands in the country, Chatham Island has a cold insular climate. The winter temperatures are approximately -3°C to 1°C (25°F to 34°F) and summers average 30-35 degrees Celsius (86 to 95 Fahrenheit). About half of the population is under 14 years old

enduring harsh weather conditions. Rainfall averages about 1550 mm per annum with summer being least rainy due t he season and corresponding low humidity. Winter is the wettest time of year on Chatham Island as heavy rain and warm sunny intervals bring about between 50% – 120% capacity for rainfall, finally settling down in February during winter’s final stages when sunshine greets New Zealand borders. Rainfall decreases with proximity to numerous mountains which have their own micro climates e.g Mt Maunganui (‘Mt Tea Tree’), Bass Strait & Stewart Island .


Rugby and netball are popular sports in the Chathams, while much of the North Island was a big blue – be it rugby union or league – and people generally follow this association. The arrival of oversea leagues has changed matters at times as they have introduced elements that reflect their own cultural tradition: European soccer culture may provide an outlet for “individualism” with frequent substitutions depending on individual fitness levels without feeling guilty ; whereas the support of local traditions takes precedence in social dynamics. Rugby league has been reasonably successful on Chatham Island and chiefly the Newcastle model remains popular, with a continued prevalence of school trophies going to houses that are predominantly made up of ANZACs (Australian – New Zealand Army Corp).

This is why people often get a bit upset as there seems to be an apparent conflict or preference between being “part-European”/being.


Around the year 2003 many fad industries introduced a great change on Chatham Island and “did not leave smiling”. One of these was so-called ‘raffle competitions’ advertised as big jackpots up to US$40,000 in cash that left masses flocking from all over New Zealand including Auckland . This brought about a question if this type of behaviour should be tolerated or outlawed for being unethical although as purely illegal , these lotteries are(along with “yield harvesting”) an inconceivable form of usury – the collection (implied or outright); which has been outlawed in many countries, yet obtained freely here without being to caught out in doing so. Raffles are rife and half of the town centres throughout New Zealand have now gained themselves a new very profitable trade as raffle organisers for their weak bids at persuading tourists to drive


Chatham Island has a ferry service via the main South Island port, and to Auckland (140 n.m.); while it is served by Bluff Airlines from Stewart island airport across Cook Strait at Rangitoto . The island has established a regular scheduled service “Bluff Airlines” that operates daily.

In 2005, by arrangement with the Ministry of Transport, NZP must assess Bluff Airlines services in order to validate their continuing viability and sustainability . A National Park Authority water taxi provides access from Chatham Island’s main settlement Susannah Point for those visiting the Motuora settlements or New Zealand’s largest mainland seabird colony at Bounty Bay Head—accessed.


Chatham Island has a variety of traditional foods from its long history, including: Chowder , and shellfish dishes in particular ( the latter being not so much found elsewhere ) are very popular onit; where there is still harvestable seafood such as Dennistounia snail even today. The island’s extensive grasslands for interaction with human kind had been kept free of grazing sheep or cattle . Ironically, commercial farming gained momentum after 1788


Chatham Island is home to the largest seabird colony of seven species including around 1,750 pairs of sooty shearwaters (featured above ) which consists each winter on one island known as Motuora and display at Bounty Bay Head; owing to the islands’ sheltered waters for over 400 ha . There are also numerous native plants such as blackwood , taupata kowhai and several trees in this area. This is one of the last refuges for seals and penguins in New Zealand. There is a large crayfish population on the island; owing to its middens containing shell critters ( snails ) which also includes Wellingtoners, scallops found mostly at Motuora as well, but other species commonly occur here too such Environmental management involves controls to minimize possible hazards associated with algal blooms , siltation and fertilizer through.


The Department of Conservation also recognizes that this island has been a sensitive area, as the human population was small and contained in an unpopulated high country. In addition it is claimed to be one of New Zealand’s last remaining wilderness areas being almost untouched by development . Chatham Island comprises four motu (groupings) or traditional land divisions which represent different ownership titles: Chowder Lagoon and Maungatautari including surrounding smaller islands; Motu Motua, including the two southernmost islands of Mitiaro and Rangitoto; The Chatham Islands, also including Stewart Island (the largest island) and several smaller islets..


Why Do So Many People Want To Move To The Chatham Island?

Chatham Island has always been a haven for fishermen and hunters. People generally come on very small boats, have lived here many years or are descendants of long established families. They tend not to move unless they wish, but instead invest their capital (savings), often in businesses – from sheep to crab fishing etc., and so value what the island offers: land mostly freehold; pristine beaches with clean waters; numerous walking tracks, open spaces for camping

Is It True That There Are No Mosquitoes On The Chatham Island?

There are only a few introduced species of mosquito, however all have been comprehensively eradicated by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. There is one type of blacklegged tick (notably not as significant as in mainland New Zealand) which produces Lyme Disease-infected nymphs and adults also occurs on human skin during warm weather.

What Is The Chatham Island?

The Chatham Islands form New Zealand’s most easterly group. They are about 35 km wide and a little over 300 km long, making them New Zealands 23rd largest island (after Auckland Island). They were named by Cook in 1767 during his 2nd voyage to the South Pacific as Joseph de Boisseries Inuit names mean ‘evil wind’ or evil sound . The islands had been first sighted by Tasman in 1642.

How Does A Population Of About 1,000 People Survive On An Island With No Roads Or Electricity?

The terrain is mountainous which varies from flat seabed in the north to a sharp high point (Hike or Head Island at 226 m above sea level) above the Cook Strait connection with New Zealand. The relatively low population density has proved an advantage for wildlife management, as buildings and other man-made objects can be located easily, making control of pests easier. There are many one lane roads through private land only suitable for pedal powered vehicles and most interior settlements.

What Do You Need To Know Before Moving To The Chatham Island?

The Cook Strait ferry will only take 24 passengers at a time. The ferries cost around NZ$25 each way and are quicker than our overland journey which can take 7 days as we had to wait for weather conditions not too dissimilar from the normal seals’ molar style of cold changeable weather . It was worth it though, once there were no mosquitoes left! When leaving contact us with your planned date so that we know when you require.

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