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Chatham Islands

Main attractions

Chatham Island forget-me-not
Chatham Island forget-me-not / Virginia Macmillan, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Like many remote islands of the Pacific ocean, Chatham islands are endowed with many unique species of plants and animals. But the greatest international acclaim have acquired unique monuments of culture - dendroglyphs which were created by Moriori people in the 16th - 19th centuries. Mysterious dendroglyphs as well as some petroglyph sites serve as a testimony of this interesting culture.

Impenetrable forests and peatlands

Significant part of islands has been changed by human activities, mainly grazing.

Nevertheless the southern tablelands of the large Rehoa island, as well as several more locations still contain primeval forests and shrublands. Several interesting endemic and rare species of birds live here. Unfortunately rather many species are extinct since the arrival of people - including a local species of penguin and swan. Close to 200 species of insects are found only here: in summer nights the ground of natural forests is swarming with beetles, cocroaches, spiders and wetas. Even a unique freshwater fish Neochanna rekohua has been found in two small lakes of the wild south tablelands of Rehoa island in 1994.

In Chatham islands are found some 50 endemic plant species as well. These include the beautiful Chatham Islands forget-me-not (Myosotidium hortensia).

Landmarks

Mangere Islands
Mangere Islands / Dave Houston, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Basalt Columns in Ohira Bay - Rehoa. Formation of basalt columns at the seaside, similar to Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland.
  • Cascade Gorge - south of Rehoa. Approximately 1,200 m long, up to 400 m wide and up to 200 m deep gorge opening towards the Pacific Ocean. Several impressive waterfalls.
  • Cliffs of southern Rehoa - very south of Rehoa. Up to 250 m high, vertical cliffs along the southern coast of Rehoa island. Abrupt cliff with the exotic wilderness of impenetrable Chatham forest and peatlands above and roaring ocean below. Here are exposed Upper Cretaceous volcanic rocks, basaltic lava, agglomerates. Several streams fall form impressive waterfalls which are visible only from the sea.
  • Hapupu dendroglyphs - north-east Rehoa. The richest find of the unique dendroglyphs left by the ancient Moriori people. In 1998 here were found 92 kopi trees (Corynocarpus laevigata) with ancient signs cut by Moriori people centuries ago. There are five groups of dendroglyphs on the islands, where 147 trees with carvings were found in 1998. These locations are - Te Waroa (8), Taia (21), Lake Kairae (16) and New Barker Bros Ltd Block (22). In the 1950s there were known some 1,400 trees with dendroglyphs, in earlier times dendroglyphs were reported also on Pitt Island. It is possible that these markings are linked to the cult of dead or to burial rituals.
  • Mangahou Falls - north-west from Owenga, Rehoa. Beautiful waterfall, more than 10 m tall. In this area are located numerous waterfalls.
  • Te Ana o Nunuku (Moreroa petroglyphs) - Rehoa. Legendary cave, important monument to Moriori culture. Adorned with ancient rock carvings. Named after Nunuku - legendary Moriori Chief who outlawed killing among his people. There are other locations with petroglyphs as well, f.e. Motuhou Point Petroglyphs to the north.
  • Tuku Nature Reserve - south-west Rehoa. Remnant of the unique, almost impenetrable Chatham islands forest on a peat covered tableland, dissected with deep valleys. The only known place where still lives taiko - Magenta Petrel (Pterodroma magentae). Some 120 - 150 birds are left. Here lives almost whole population of local pigeon - parea (Hemiphaga chathamensis) and many other endemic species.

List of described attractions

ArrowHapupu dendroglyphsOther archaeological monuments
ArrowLake Kairae dendroglyphsOther archaeological monuments
ArrowTaia dendroglyphsOther archaeological monuments

Map of Chatham Islands

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