Walking in the Wilderness: Exploring the Chatham Islands

For many people, The Chatham Islands are the personification of what a remote ocean-bound wilderness should probably look like. Not only can you enjoy viewing some intriguing marine life and natural fauna wherever you look, but you can also enjoy an absolute plethora of outdoor activities.

If you arrive on the Chatham Islands via one of the cruise ships excursions that you can book through discount cruise sites, you may be faced with a difficult set of choices. There are opportunities to unwind on a virtually deserted beach or maybe you might want to go kayaking or sailing, but for many visitors, the stunning scenery all around you is just begging to be explored, so bring your hiking boots and get ready for a walk in the wilderness.

Walking tracks to explore

There are four nature reserves on Chatham Island and within these defined areas that are protected with the help of the Department of Conservation, you will find a number of walking tracks that are sometimes challenging, but always rewarding.

Some of these tracks offer a short walk as part of a longer trail, while others will occupy your time for a few hours while you wind your way through areas that will stimulate the senses and often leave you in awe of the natural beauty of the area.

Henga Reserve

The walk track that has been laid out for visitors will take around 1-2 hours to complete and the 170 hectare Henga reserve features some spectacular examples of regeneration together with examples of endemic plants and inspiring views over Petre Bay.

There are extensive dunes within the reserve and in pre European times the inland dunes were almost completely forested and merged with the kopi and tarahinau forests that extensively covered the limestone between Long Beach and Te Whanga.

Nikau Bush

Recent conservation work at Nikau Bush has seen spectacular regeneration results with prolific nikau flowering which can be seen at its most spectacular during December and January.

Nikau Bush Conservation Area comprises of around 19 hectares of lowland broadleaved forest and your reward for taking this particular walk is to encounter some very peaceful forest glades, lush vegetation and some very regal palm trees.

Hapupu National Historic Reserve

There are three reserves on the main Chatham Island that have tracks that visitors can use and the J.M Barker (Hapupu) National Historic Reserve is certainly not one to be missed.

The reserve was originally established to provide protection for Moriori dendroglyphs, which are culturally and historically important tree carvings. These unique tree carvings are fascinating to view but are highly prized and you actually have to get permission in advance if you intend to photograph them.

Wherever you take your walk you will be reminded why the Chatham Islands are considered to be so important to conservation, as the rich biodiversity of plant and bird life is a living reminder of how the world used to be, and how this rightly needs to be protected.

When you make a visit to the Chatham Islands, make sure that you find the time to take a walk into the wilderness and make the most of the chance to enjoy nature at its finest.

Ryan Posa, former District Sales Manager for Carnival Australia and founder of Cruise Republic in 2008, has cruised to such fantastic locations as Mexico, New Zealand, Alaska, and the South Pacific. After seeing the world aboard a number of cruiseliners, including Pacific Dawn and Royal Princess, he greatly enjoys blogging about his favourite fascinating destinations across the globe. Follow Ryan on Twitter.