Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes you just have to ask ...

Public transport

There are no taxis or public transport on the Chatham Islands. Check with your accommodation provider re transfers to and from the airport. Rental cars are available but must be booked in advance.

What about broadband and cellphone coverage?

No cellphone coverageThere are no public wi-fi hotspots and however accommodation providers may have internet access available via satellite connection.  Unfortunately there is also no cellphone service on the Chathams, so taking a phone card to call home with is a good idea.  There is a public phonebox in Waitangi.

Is there a Post Office, Bank or ATM on the Chathams?

Essential services: Post Office, Bank and Fish and Chip shopThere is a ANZ bank and Post Office in Waitangi, but the only ATM on the island is at Hotel Chatham.  EFTPOS can be used at the stores, hotel and garage and cafe's.

Emergency services and doctor

first-aidThere are volunteer ambulance and fire services on the island which are complemented by a small hospital and if necessary, air ambulance to the mainland.

There is a doctor on the island but travellers should bring any medication they might require as supplies on the island are limited.

What's the story with weka?

weka and chick.  Image:  Dave HoustonWeka are part of the Chatham Island identity. Indeed, people born on Chatham Island call themselves "Weka", as opposed to "Kiwi" for people born on the New Zealand mainland. And so it is a surprise to many people that weka are not native to the Chatham Islands and that they can be hunted.

Weka belong to a group of birds called rails. The Chatham Islands originally had seven species of rail but now (following the arrival of humans) there are only 3 surviving species - pukeko, spotless crake and marsh crake.  The three surviving species are widely distributed throughout New Zealand and the southwest Pacific, reaching the edge of their range on the Chatham Islands.

Read more...

What about creepy-crawlies and other nasties?

Rangatira spider. Image: Dave HoustonThere are a few spiders on the Chathams, but all are harmless.  The largest  is (fortunately) restricted to Rangatira Island and is thus unable to frighten most visitors to the Chathams.

Neither sandflys or mosquitoes are a problem on the Chathams and wasps are absent.  There are small numbers of honey bees on both Chatham and Pitt islands.

What's the weather like?

Airport weather station. Image: Dave HoustonWhile forecasts for the Chatham Islands often use pseudonyms for "showers" (rain at times, fine periods, occasional rain etc), rainfall in the Chatham Islands is only around 800 mm annually, with the winter months being wetter than summer. Rainfall is often brief showers as there are no mountains for cloud masses to press against, although the elevated southern end of the island does attract more rain that the north.

Temperatures are moderated by the surrounding ocean, with a mean range between the high of 14 deg C in February and 8 in July.  Wind and rapid weather changes are a feature of the Chathams, so never leave home without your parka!

What time is it in the Chatham Islands?

clockThe Chatham Islands are 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand Standard Time, which makes them GMT +12:45 (Just why it's 45 minutes and not a "round" number is a mystery to me).  The Chatham Islands also observe the same daylight saving dates as New Zealand, making them GMT +13:45 over summer months.

Sunrise and set times for both sun and moon at the Chatham Islands can be found on date and time.com 

Crayfishing season

Chatham Island crayfish. Image: Dave HoustonChatham Islands is the only place in New Zealand that has a closed rock lobster (crayfish) season. During March and April no rock lobster are allowed to be caught and it is a criminal offence to be found with rock lobster in your possession.  For more information on rock lobster rules, visit the Ministry of Fisheries website.

Chatham Islands Time

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