Chatham Island: Best Things to Do and See

Chatham Island guide

If you’re looking for a unique holiday, Chatham Island is the place to visit. It has a magnetic beauty and calm energy, perfect for a relaxing holiday.

Your Chatham Island holiday will be an adventure full of laughter, discovery, and learning as the mysterious island welcomes you to partake of its secrets.

Here are some things for you to do and see during your Chatham Island holiday.

1. Visit the stunning Admiral Gardens

When you get to the Admiral Gardens, you can be sure to get the ultimate experience while bonding with nature. This location is undoubtedly the paramount home for butterflies, bees, and birds

Once you’re done with a walk amongst the greenery, you can wind down with a walk through the dunes and relax at Long Beach.

admiral gardens

🔍 Insights about the Admiral Gardens

  • 🚶‍♂️ Ultimate Nature Bonding: Connect with nature on a profound level as you enjoy the bush and garden walk at your own pace. 
  • 🌺 Home to Butterflies, Bees, and Birds: Witness the vibrant ecosystem; Admiral Gardens is the paramount home for butterflies, bees, and birds. 
  • 🌄 Adventurous Discoveries: For the adventurer in you, wander off independently and prepare to be mind-blown by your unique discoveries. 
  • 🚶‍♂️ Guided Exploration Option: If you prefer guidance, accommodation can arrange a knowledgeable guide to enhance your experience. 
  • 🌅 Relaxation at Long Beach: Conclude your greenery adventure with a walk through the dunes and relaxation at the picturesque Long Beach. 
  • 🌳 Pace and Leisure: Take your time and savor every moment during your bush and garden walk, letting nature unfold at your pace. 
  • 🗺️ Discoveries Await: Each independent exploration promises surprises; be open to mind-blowing discoveries as you venture into the unknown. 
  • 🤝 Guided Assistance: Opt for a guide if you prefer a curated experience; let a knowledgeable companion enrich your journey. 
  •  🌅 Serene Long Beach Retreat: Wind down your day with the soothing ambiance of Long Beach after an adventure in the Admiral Gardens.

2. Take a walk along the Awatotara Bush Coastal Walking Track

This bush Coastal track will be your gateway to the native bush bursting at the seams with exotic birdlife.

Some birds you will meet in this location include the tui, red-crowned parakeet, the Chatham Islands pigeon, and fantails.

After interacting with the birds, you can visit the Gap Sanctuary and the Taiko Trust base and check out some local bird and plant species.

walking track

🔍 Insights about the Awatotara Bush Coastal Walking Track

  • 🌅 Breathtaking Coastal Views: Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the coastal landscapes, offering panoramic views of the ocean. 
  • 🌿 Bush Immersion: Traverse through the Awatotara Bush, surrounded by lush greenery and native flora, creating a sensory-rich experience. 
  • 🐦 Avian Symphony: Awaken your senses to the melodic tunes of native birds, making the bush track a harmonious journey. 
  • 🚶‍♀️ Varied Trail Terrain: Experience a diverse trail terrain, from well-marked paths to more challenging sections, catering to different preferences. 
  • 🏖️ Coastal Adventure Awaits: Anticipate an adventure along the coastline, where the track seamlessly merges with the tranquil beauty of the ocean. 
  • 📸 Scenic Photo Opportunities: Capture moments of natural beauty with scenic photo opportunities along the track, preserving memories of your journey. 
  • 🤿 Ocean-Adjacent Exploration: Revel in the unique experience of walking adjacent to the ocean, feeling the refreshing sea breeze as you stroll. 
  • 🌌 Nighttime Magic: Consider exploring the track during the evening for a different ambiance, where nocturnal sounds add a touch of magic. 
  • Time for Contemplation: Allow moments of solitude along the Awatotara Bush Coastal Walking Track for personal reflection and contemplation. 

3. Visit the Chatham Islands Museum

The Chatham Islands Museum is the gateway to the island’s rich natural history. The museum was established back in 1971. It received much support from the community and the local council to move from the Waitangi store into a separate museum.

The museum is home to a broad collection of archives and photographs, where anyone interested in the Islands’ history would be happy to do some research. Here, you will be privy to unique fossil and rock collections and displays of wildlife and rare art on the islands.

There are also displays of the Maori culture and some items representing early European settlers and visitors.


🔍 Insights about the Chatham Island Museum

  • 🧭 Navigating Island Heritage: Navigate through exhibits that unfold the island’s heritage, offering glimpses into its cultural and historical tapestry. 
  • 🌺 Cultural Artifacts Showcase: Witness a curated display of cultural artifacts, providing insights into the lifestyle and traditions of the Chatham Islanders. 
  • 🤓 Educational Insights: Gain educational insights as the museum becomes a portal into the past, enlightening visitors about the island’s evolution. 
  • 🚢 Maritime History Exhibits: Explore maritime history exhibits, showcasing the island’s connection with the sea and its seafaring legacy. 
  • 🗣️ Local Stories Unveiled: Listen to local stories and narratives shared through exhibits that give voice to the islanders’ unique experiences. 
  • 🎨 Artistic Expression: Experience artistic expression as the museum showcases the creative endeavors of the Chatham Islands community. 
  • 🌐 Connecting Past and Present: Appreciate the museum as a bridge between past and present, fostering a deeper connection with Chatham Islands’ heritage. 
  • 🤔 Reflection Spaces: Find quiet corners for reflection, allowing visitors to absorb the historical narratives at their own pace. 
  • 🤝 Community Engagement Hub: Consider the museum as a hub for community engagement, where locals and visitors converge to celebrate shared histories. 

4. Pay homage to the Basalt Columns

The impressive Basalt Columns are some of the most popular attractions on the Chatham Islands.

They are located at Ohira Bay on privately owned land and were formed due to lava flows from volcanos that erupted almost 80 million years ago.

These columns were created through the cooling of basalt lava after the eruption.

Basalt lava is a scalding liquid that’s more than 1,000 °C. Once it stopped moving, it began to cool down and formed a solid (rock) made of crystalline minerals.

This cooling process resulted in a highly geometrical structure that is impressive to anyone who visits the islands.

Basalt Columns

🔍 Insights about the Basalt Columns

  • 🌋 Ancient Volcanic Legacy: Explore the remnants of an ancient volcanic legacy as the Basalt Columns stand as a testament to the Earth’s transformative forces. 
  • 🚶‍♂️ Stunning Geological Formation: Take a stroll amidst the stunning geological formation, where hexagonal columns create a captivating and orderly spectacle. 
  • 🌿 Surrounded by Natural Beauty: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding the Basalt Columns, where lush landscapes complement the stone formations. 
  • 📐 Symmetry in Nature: Appreciate the symmetry in nature as the hexagonal shapes of the columns showcase the exquisite balance forged by geological processes. 
  • 📷 Photographer’s Delight: Capture the unique beauty of the Basalt Columns, offering photographers a visual feast of textures, shapes, and contrasts. 
  • 🌅 Sunset Spectacle: Experience the Basalt Columns at sunset, where the warm hues of the evening sun enhance the visual spectacle of the geological formations. 
  • 🌊 Coastal Elegance: Admire the coastal elegance of the Basalt Columns, where the juxtaposition of stone and sea creates a picturesque harmony. 
  • 📚 Geological Education: Engage in a geological education as you learn about the fascinating processes that shaped the Basalt Columns over millennia.
  • 🗿 Nature’s Sculpture Garden: Wander through nature’s sculpture garden, where the Basalt Columns serve as captivating sculptures sculpted by the hands of time.

Booking Activities and Tours in the Chatham Island

Regarding booking activities on the island, two popular platforms to consider are BookMe and Viator.

However, it’s important to note that due to the island’s remote location, options may be limited, and it’s advisable to check directly with the operators’ websites for the most up-to-date information and availability.

activities and tours

Accommodation in the Chatham Island

Discover the inviting accommodations on Chatham Island, offering a delightful mix of elegance and island warmth. Whether you seek a cozy retreat or a seaside haven, the island’s lodging options cater to various preferences, providing a memorable stay amidst nature’s beauty.

To find different types of accommodations, we recommend you check HostelWorld.

1. Seaside Retreats

Experience the enchantment of seaside retreats, where accommodations offer comfort and stunning views of the ocean. Wake up to the gentle sounds of waves and the tranquility of coastal living.

2. Rural Homesteads

Immerse yourself in the island’s rural charm by choosing accommodations set in quaint homesteads. Surrounded by greenery, these lodgings offer a peaceful escape into the heart of Chatham Island.

3. Local Hospitality

Enjoy the warmth of local hospitality as accommodations often showcase the friendliness and welcoming nature of Chatham Islanders. It’s a chance to experience authentic island life.

4. Scenic Locations

Select accommodations strategically positioned in scenic spots, providing breathtaking views of the island’s landscapes.

5. Historic Stays

Delve into the island’s rich history by opting for accommodations in historic buildings. These lodgings blend timeless charm and modern conveniences, creating a unique and memorable stay.

6. Gardens and Nature Retreats

Find solace in accommodations nestled within gardens and nature retreats. These lodgings provide a serene environment, allowing you to connect with the island’s natural beauty.

7. Self-Catering Options

Choose self-catering accommodations for flexibility. This option allows you to explore local cuisine or prepare your own meals using the island’s fresh and delicious ingredients.

Bottom Line

Whether you prefer fishing, collecting arts and crafts, taking in the panoramic scenery, or connecting with nature, the Chatham Islands will provide this and more.

The rugged landscapes along the shorelines and the local culture inspire the local artistry.

After immersing yourself in all the Islands offer, you can settle into one of the restaurants and satisfy your hunger with some fresh seafood.

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