World Travel...The Passport To Peace Through Understanding
The Centurian, Traveler's Century Club (CA)
Date: May 1999
Author: GIG GWIN
With the advent of 1999, the Traveler's Century Club has added new countries to its list. Among them is the Chatham Islands. They are located approximately 415 miles east of Wellington, New Zealand. These remote, quaint little islands provide a lovely "get-away-from-it-all" location for kiwis on holidays or Traveler's Century Club members. There is regular air service on Air Chatham on the Convair 580 two-engine prop. As the locals would say, you can pop over from Wellington or Christchurch on a regular schedule. This medium sized aircraft and rather comfortable for the hour and one-half trip. By the way, the gate agent is also the in-flight attendant and you are served a nice little snack and beverage before landing. If looking on your map, you will see that Chatham Islands are quite isolated and going east, the next land mass is deep in South America.
Chatham consists of two main islands – Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Pitt lies twelve miles southeast of Chatham. There is a small population on both main islands and additional remote out-island in this chain. The islands were formed by volcanic upthrusts, Chatham Island being predominately flat with a number of small peaks in the northwest. The predominant geographical feature of the island is TeWanga Lagoon. This covers about one-fifth of the island's size.
The history of the island consists of original Morion people who arrived a thousand years ago. The Moari form the mainland of New Zealand arrived in 1835 and dominated the island. European whaling and sealing fleets also established a foothold on the island, but whaling was discontinued by the 1850's European, primarily British settled the island and by 1933 the last of the full-blooded Moriori died on the island.
There is a small population of 700, consisting mostly of Europeans and Moriori descent. Industry includes rock lobsters or crayfish, paua shell industry, sheep and cattle farming.
The island is a nature lover's paradise. Black swan, ducks, and albatross dominate the bird life. There is also a very rare black robin who makes his home on Mangere at Southeast islands, but unfortunately it is not possible to view this extremely rare bird.
I visited the island in mid-February and the weather was quite wet. It is a sub-tropical climate with temperatures in the 60's. There are activities on the island, including hiking, camping scuba diving, fishing and hunting. There is also a modest, and I mean modest, golf course above the main town of Waitengi. Other sightseeing includes an interesting basalt columns area. The best hotel on the island is the Chatham Lodge. This quaint little property is nestled on 900 acres of farm adjoining a scenic reserve. There are eleven rooms with a lovely little view and well-run.
For booking, you can contact Toni and Donna by FAX: (New Zealand) 305-0219. The island has no public transportation, one doctor, one policeman and a dental assistant. If ever there was a "get-away-from-it-all" quiet little spot with pretty vistas, Chatham Islands will be a delight for anyone who ventures down to New Zealand.