January Newsletter

Tourism Chatham Islands E-Newsletter
 January 2021

Fishing Boats on the beach at Owenga Harbour

Kia ora

Happy New Year to all our readers. Our year has had a busy start with lots of visitors to the island. We have included some important information for our visitors below to help us manage demand. Work continues on a number of projects. Several are highlighted briefly below.

Tourism Update – 32% growth in arrivals for 2020

Visitor Arrivals Sep 2018 – Dec 2020
What a challenging year we have just had. While many areas of the mainland have found themselves with major tourism declines the Chathams, being one of the furthest destinations New Zealanders can fly to. we have seen growth. When, comparing visitor numbers from 2019 and 2020, the Chathams has seen a 32% increase in visitor arrivals. Our latest calculations, based on Air Chathams booking data, indicates visitor numbers sat at 1750 for 2020. With Hotel Chathams reporting it is virtually full to June we are not expecting the usual autumn and winter decline. We all recognise it is impossible to forecast anything at present, given the situation with Covid-19.


Air Chathams Update

The Chathams Islands has become a tourism gem almost overnight, attracting national and international media attention as one of only a handful of places to experience an increase in tourism post Covid-19. With this unplanned growth comes challenges. Our airline has met this demand as best we can using our diverse fleet of aircraft, including many standalone freight charters to ensure seafood products can be exported frequently and to ensure best price. This has been undertaken whilst also maintaining the critical supply of groceries, mail, and general goods to the island’s resident population and visitors.

We have received amazing feedback from those that have visited our islands. For that we congratulate and thank the Chatham Islands community and businesses for their hospitality and work to ensure visitors can experience the unique ruggedness of the Chathams and the friendly island culture that makes the Chathams such an amazing place to live.

Looking forward, there is plenty of demand and forward bookings for 2021. It is new growth markets such as tourism that will be essential in supporting larger aircraft to our islands once infrastructure is suitable. This will open up even more opportunities for islanders to pursue a career in tourism.

Duane Emeny – Chief Operating Officer, Air Chathams

Air Chathams new ATR service from the Chatham Islands touching down in the mainland


Important Advice for Visitors

Here are a few key tips and requests from Tourism Chatham Islands to enhance your visit and help us manage the impact of increased tourism for our residents.

1. We encourage visitors to join the tour groups for the best experience. Virtually all tour guides are local islanders with loads of island knowledge.
2. Most attractions are on private land. If you’re an independent traveller, please prearrange visits to attractions with the landowners before you set out.
3. Please don’t wander across farmland. This poses all sorts of risks to yourselves, farmers and their stock.
4. Enjoy eating the fish you catch on the island and purchase what you want to take home from the factories. We encourage visitors to leave the paua beds for the locals. They are an important local food source and resource that we don’t want to see depleted. You can enjoy lots of quality Chatham Islands seafood on the menus here.
5. Water is often in short supply and restrictions are put in place, particularly in summer. Please help us to conserve it when showering, flushing etc. 

Business Feature – Admiral Gardens – Happy 80th Birthday Val Croon

Lois and Val Croon have been instrumental in tourism on the Chathams. Val celebrated his 80th birthday over the holidays. The passion and care that goes into the garden and their evening dining is exceptional. Lois also loves her art studio.  Learn more about their life and love of the island in the article that featured on Stuff recently.


Vacancy – Gardener/ Kitchen Support Wanted

Admiral Gardens have a vacancy for an enterprising person to fill the role as gardener who is also able to assist in the kitchen for dinner tours three days a week. Accommodation provided. Please contact Lois on 03 3050448, lois.croon@gmail.com




Voluntary Visitor Levy

Tourism Chatham Islands has received over $10,000 from donations from the Voluntary Visitor Levy that was established last year. This is paid voluntarily by main companies bringing visitors to the island. On top of this, the swimming pool has received a $1000 donation ($100 per visitor) with a further $1,000 coming next month. The Weka Walk was also donated $600. These companies bringing visitors to the island are hugely supportive and we see this as just the start. This funding will be invested back into the work we are undertaking to manage tourism. 

Visitors coming as independent travellers are also encouraged to support our voluntary visitor levy and contributions are invited to be made directly to our organisation. 

ANZ Account:  06 0845  00796434002
Particulars: Your name
Reference: Donation


Tourism Futures Chair and DOC Director-General meet with Operators

Flowerpot Bay Lodge owner Brent Mallinson with Steve Chadwick and Lou Sanson up Mt Hakepa, Pitt Island
Operators met with the Government’s Tourism Futures Taskforce chair Steve Chadwick and DOC Director General Lou Sanson in December.
Topics discussed included destination management, infrastructure planning and community led tourism. These are all things the Tourism Chatham Islands is working on. Specifically raised with Steve were the challenges of FITs  (Free Independent Travellers), managed camping, quality standards, links between the industry and schools and the impacts of tourism on infrastructure. Raised with Lou were the need for increased pest and weed control and the upkeep of reserves. Lou advised that the White House is to be restored by the Department.



Ponga Whare Restoration –  The first stage of work on the restoration of the Ponga Whare has begun with an inspection and assessment by conservation carpenter Brent Withers. Brent’s report will advise the work required and how the project could proceed.


Brent Withers assessing the Ponga Whare


Qualmark Working with Chathams Operators

Martha-Lee Tuhiwai of Skirmish Bay Stay, Kaingaroa, meeting with Heather Bailey
Qualmark used to be promoted as a rating of the quality of a tourism business. This function has now been expanded to providing business assistance. It is also providing a rating that Tourism New Zealand and many other businesses use to ensure the products they are onselling meet legal requirements and are working to industry standards. Qualmark had never visited the island.
TCI hosted Qualmark Business Advisor Heather Bailey in November.
Many businesses are now working to gain Qualmark certification.




New Council and Museum Building Construction

Council/Museum Site Preparation
After many years in planning, construction is now underway. The site was blessed on Thursday 26th November, the site has been prepared and many of the building materials are now on site.

Preparation of the new exhibits is also advancing. Around twenty people are now voluntarily working on different topics. These include locals, professionals in museum studies from universities and subject specialists familiar with the island like Hamish Campbell and Peter de Lange.

Concept designer, Sally Papps, will be back on island this month to take the concept plans to detail design and costings. The intention is to submit an application to the Lottery Environment and Heritage Fund in the March funding round for the full fitout.



As part of social licence and giving back to community project, TCI has established three projects visitors can support. These are:

Tourism Chatham Islands to help fund management and infrastructure for visitors,

The Taiko Trust saving the taiko and other rare and endangered seabirds.

The new Chatham Islands Museum displays and fit-out. The project is very close to construction.  




Chatham Islands Guide Book

If you’re planning a visit to the Chatham Islands we highly recommend this comprehensive guide.

Copies are available for purchase at $45 plus $5 pp through the Chatham Islands Museum with proceeds going to the museum.


For a copy please email museum@wnation.net.nz




Wherever you are take care and stay safe. 
Kia Kaha

Tourism Chatham Islands


Chatham Islands Jockey Club Race Meeting  January 2021
Photo: Robbie Lanauze