These islands 870 kms to the East of mainland New Zealand provide a unique experience to visitors, as they are immersed in the Moriori culture of peace and hospitality and a history steeped in resilience and commitment.
The islands abound with sacred and historic sites, including; Hāpūpū ( the J.M. Barker National Historic Reserve) home to Rākau Momori (tree-carvings), Kōpinga Marae, Nunuku’s Cave, Basalt Columns and the Memorial to Tame Horomona Rehe (Tommy Solomon) at Manukau. These islands also provide as a conservation paradise, home to some exceptionally rare birds and plants that exist only here.
Rēkohu, Rangihaute and the other outlying islands boast some of the worlds most unique and rare flora and fauna. The Black Robin and Taiko (Tchaik’) are among the rarest in the world.
The list of endemic sea birds that make these islands their home include;
- the Hopo (northern royal albatross) which also breeds at Taiaroa Head near Dunedin,
- Chatham Island taiko (now confined to one tiny population),
- Torea (Chatham Island oystercatcher) found around the shores,
- Chatham Island Shag,
- Pitt Island Shag, and
- the Chatham Petrel.
The endemic land birds that can be found here include;
- Parea (Chatham Island pigeon),
- Chatham Island Warbler,
- Forbes’ Parakeet,
- Chatham Island Snipe,
- Chatham Island Tui,
- Chatham Island Tomtit,
- And the Chatham Islands Black Robin.
None of these birds are common and recovery programmes are underway for the most threatened of them.
Hāpūpū (JM Barker National Historic Reserve) and other kōpi groves on Hokotehi-owned land contain the largest surviving remnants of Kōpi trees (known in NZ as “Karaka”) that were carved by the Moriori karāpuna (ancestors).
The unique biodiversity of these islands is also vulnerable to introduced pests and organisms. Visitors are requested to not bring honey comb or used bee-keeping products to the island, or any plants that could be classified as ecological weeds, or plants from the Myrtaceae family (such as manuka, pohutukawa etc).
Of the many islands and islets, rocks and reefs that make up the Chathams group, only two are permanently inhabited. The remainder all have access carefully managed by the Department of Conservation, as they are home to the many endemic and rare species of wildlife and plants that make this place so unique and special.
The name “Rēkohu” means misty sky or misty sun and refers to the mist which often clings to the land there.
Some 870 kilometres to the East from mainland New Zealand Rēkohu rises out of the sea on the end of the East Chatham Rise.
The waters surrounding these low-lying islands are abundant with fish stocks of all descriptions and these days vessels of all sizes plunder the wealth and take it away for processing and consumption.
The location on the 44th latitude and the convergence of warm northern ocean currents and cold southerly currents creates a unique environment and climate punctuated by (almost) incessant wind, cloud cover, wet winters and humid summers.
Rēkohu is 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand time. There is no cellphone reception on the islands but many places provide wifi internet access. There is an ANZ bank and a Post Office on the main island in Waitangi, but no ATM machines. Most shops on Rēkohu have eftpos facilities but cash is accepted everywhere.
The range of shops includes;
- a garage,
- post office,
- food store,
- fruit and vegetable shops,
- hotel and restaurant
The island has a small hospital for any medical treatment, but it is advisable to bring your own medicinal needs. The flight from NZ takes approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes. The airline is pretty strict about luggage weight limits and sizes so please be aware that you may need to check with Air
Chathams if you are bringing a lot of gear or large items. Please also check biosecurity requirements.
Private vehicles are available for rent on the island, including 4wds and buses, minivans. There is no public transport on the island apart from the flight service in to Rēkohu and to Pitt Island.
Accommodation providers can usually assist with organising tours and fishing and hunting trips and travel to Rangihaute (Pitt Island). Tours include trips to native forest reserves and rākau momori carvings, Tommy Solomon’s statue, the basalt columns and beautiful scenic trips around the lake and coastal areas.
Rēkohu is the first place in the world to greet the new day, so sunrises are a special experience. In summer, one night a week the Kaingaroa community organises a seafood banquet – bookings are essential and the experience is unforgettable.
By the way, when you are out on the roads on Rēkohu, it is customary to wave to anyone passing
Do you want to know more about Moriori and the settlement of Rēkohu? Have a look at this unit plan from Education Resources. It contains lots of interesting FACTS about these magical and mysterious islands on the edge of the world. Just click on the picture to the right.