The Chatham Islands are located at around latitude 44°S (or 860kms east of Christchurch). The entire Chathams land area of around 97,000 hectares is spread unevenly among some 40 islands and islets, only two of which are inhabited. About 760 people live on the two main islands, Chatham and Pitt. Chatham Islanders have very strong ties to their land and natural resources.
Time on the Chathams is 45 minutes ahead of mainland New Zealand, making Pitt Island (home to 37 people) the first inhabited land in the world to see the sunrise each day.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, the Chatham Islands are exposed, yet still have a temperate climate. Rainfall is around 900mm a year and temperatures vary between 15 - 24 degrees Celsius in summer (December to February) and 6 - 10 degrees in winter. November through April is the best time to visit.
Flying to the Chathams takes about two hours with Air Chathams from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.
Chatham Island, the largest of the islands, has a high southern tableland flanked by towering cliffs and a gentle northern portion encompassing extensive waterways, low peat lands and long sandy beaches. The other main island, Pitt, has a heartland of forest and a coast of wild cliffs, headlands and sandy beaches.
The Chatham Islands' long isolation has created a biologically rich environment and presents immense conservation challenges. Many of the local plants and animals are endemic. The vast expanse of ocean that surrounds the islands is rich in marine life with significant populations of seabirds, whales, dolphins and seals. Home to 20% of New Zealand's threatened birds, 14% of threatened plants and 8.5% of threatened fresh-water fish, the Chathams are a place of international importance.