In February this year, an intrepid group of ECB Rotarians and partners plus our official photographer - Dave McCluggage from the Whangarei South Club left Auckland Airport for a one-week exploration of the Chatham Islands.
 
 
For our first meal – Saturday night dinner we were treated to copious quantities of delicious Crayfish, Blue Cod and Paua prepared by mine host – Toni Croon who proved to be not only a wonderful cook but also a great source of knowledge and information on the Chathams and its people. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Over the next four days we explored just about every corner of Chatham Island from Kaingaroa on the North East tip, West to landscapes with volcanic peaks thrusting up out of the rolling peatland of Waitangi West, forest-topped cliffs in the South, the vast expanse of Te Whanga lagoon in the Island centre and the kilometres of sandy beaches down the East coast all the way to Port Owenga.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Next day we headed towards the south west in search of Parea, the famed Chatham Island pigeon. Our guide Mass managed to spot a few and we all took photos. We also spoted the rare Chatham Island Moa on our drive along the shore of the Te Whanga Lagoon. These long-necked members of the Ratite family have a strong resemblance to escapees from a failed Emu farming venture on the island last century.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yet another highlight was our Paua hunting expedition just walking distance from our hotel and past the Waitangi wharf. Wading into knee deep water at low tide we quickly found lots of paua which we took them back to hotel where they were prepared – Delicious. Ian was even caught eating them raw on the rocks. The next day we charted a fishing vessel and ventured out into the bay where within 10-minutes and in just 15 meters of water, we had caught our quota of Hapuka (Groper). We then moved a few hundred meters and began fishing again, this time for Blue Cod. Within 30 minutes we had plenty. Amazing and all caught on 20mm corded hand lines – nothing sophisticated but it worked a treat
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We had a great experience, it was like stepping back into New Zealand 40 years ago. No cell phones, the locals were friendly, welcoming and we enjoyed lots of good old fashion service. Communications with Hotel Chathams pre visit was prompt and informative and when we arrived, the staff led by Toni were amazing and could not have been more helpful. Nothing was too much trouble and we were always greeted with a smile. We experience the amazing natural landscape, flora and fauna plus exceptional fishing. Importantly, we all now have a better understanding of the culture of the Moriori people and how Moriori, Māori, and Pākehā co-exist on this island. We also got to know our fellow Rotarians and partners even better. Most of all - we loved the fabulous kai moana.