Elisabeth Easther checks into the Hotel Chatham, Rēkohu, Chatham Island.

How to get there: Fly Air Chathams from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

Check-in experience: Faultless and friendly, immediately we felt like family, in a good way.

The rooms: From lavish suites to single rooms with shared bathrooms, my son and I had a twin waterfront room that opened on to Waitangi Beach. Simple, clean and cosy with an excellent outlook. There was also a TV.

Minibar: Tea, coffee and little cookies.

Bathroom: Loo and shower, clean as a whistle.

Service: Powerhouse Hotel owner Toni Croon is a dynamic whirlwind of a woman. A former crayfish diver and horse trainer, “capable” could well be her middle name. In fact if felt like all the staff, who were almost exclusively female, could handle anything.

On the menu: The hotel is also home to a bar and restaurant where blue cod and crayfish regularly feature on the menu. Head chef Kaai Silbery is an award-winning kitchen whizz. Picnics made to order if required.

Gumboots galore: There’s been a hotel on this site since the 1860s. Locals tend to take their boots off before entering the pub, a mark of respect.

Getting around: The hotel staff can book you on to all manner of excursions from fishing adventures to bus and walking tours. You can also hire vehicles from the hotel so you can explore at your own pace.

Gift shop: Fascinating books, fiction and non-fiction, trinkets, jewellery, handlines, postcards, tea towels.

The neighbourhood: Gaze out to Waitangi Bay and the resident flotilla of fishing boats at anchor. At low tide, if you wade out up to your knees you can collect paua which, for a small charge if they’re not too busy, the chefs in the kitchen will cook to perfection.

Travelling companions: The hotel is a registered “animal friendly hotel” if you fancy bringing your best furry friend and, while it’s not actively encouraged, people have brought pigs and horses into the bar.


Perfect for: Absolutely everyone. Whether you’re young or old, cautious or bold, there is so much to see and do on these magnificent islands.