New Zealand’s Chatham Islands is likely to be the one place on the planet experiencing overtourism proper now

(CNN) – The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the travel industry, as hotels, restaurants, and airports around the world are finding themselves in dire straits or drastically reducing prices as they try to survive.

But there is one place in the world where there are many tourists right now: Chatham Islands.

Haven’t you heard of them? Nothing; you are not alone.

The remote Pacific Ocean off the coast of New Zealand is part of New Zealand.And while New Zealand’s borders remain closed and locals are advised not to go overseas at this time, the Chathams – about 500 miles east of South Island – have become the hottest spot in Kiwis by 2020.

Move to the top of the list

In one year, the Chathams – whose largest islands are Chatham Island and Pitt Island – host about 2,000 visitors. That compares with some 700 regular residents, most of whom live on Chatham Island, the largest of the islands.

But 2020 is no ordinary year.

The distance from Chathams makes it a part of the country where New Zealanders do not go to visit. Now, far away and fortunate, the hungry Kiwis are turning to the islands as a way to feel like they are on a long vacation without any exception or testing Covid tests.

“It’s very fast,” said Jackie Gurden, the island’s tourism director, describing the growing number of tourists in Chathams. “It’s a little expensive to get out of here so you don’t have to give young people a cheap vacation, and there’s no seafront or anything else.”

But after the epidemic closed its borders, Tourism New Zealand – the country’s tourism regulatory committee – had to move from marketing their country to foreign tourists to boost domestic traffic. This suddenly made the sleeping Chathams a hot topic.

The demand, however, is growing. Mr. Gurden estimates that there are 150 beds in the islands, including hotels, lodges, lodges, and airports that are listed on Airbnb. Most land is his, and camping is forbidden.

The only airline that operates on the islands is Air Chathams, which operates several flights per week between Chatham Island and what locals call “mainland.” (Background: Most Kiwis only refer to the South Island as “mainland,” but to all the Chathamites in the North and South Islands they are members.)

Archaeologists and archaeologists visit Chathams to study its unique gemstones.


Typically, the tourist season runs from November to March, which is summer in the southern hemisphere. But now, all the island’s residences have been reserved until June 2021. Even the Gurden, who live on the North Island of New Zealand, do not believe they have found a place to land when they return.

What to do then

In the past, many visitors to Chathams were elderly travelers looking for a quiet place to escape. Prices can be very high, as most of the food and fuel have to be shipped from New Zealand.

But once you get there, a beautiful scenery is worth the trip.

Pitt Island believes that it is the first place in the world to see the sun rise every day. The Chathams were the easternmost tip of the Gondwanaland supercontinent, meaning it has spectacular landscapes, including basalt monuments on the Giant’s Causeway and volcanic peaks.

The islands are home to some of the world’s rarest birds, plus a large and interesting group.

Little Blue Penguins, the world's smallest species of penguin, are found here.

Little Blue Penguins, the world’s smallest species of penguin, are found here.


Where are we going?

Prior to becoming the island’s tourism director, Gurden was asked to work as a consultant for the future of the hospitality industry there – although no one would think that any of these would be tested. Fortunately, some of these items included an island tourist brochure and a brochure, which were handed over to potential future tourists.

In other words, the rise of tourism is particularly important on these islands, where many people work in agriculture or fishing and the lack of a high school sends students to Christchurch as teenagers.

The islands have also received support from the New Zealand government to assist with construction projects, such as public toilets and airport improvements. Even without the epidemic, 2020 was making it a time for bright Chathams.

“It’s not just growth, it’s driving growth,” explains Gurden. “There is a growing need for tourism to create jobs for young people. Young people on the island can have a future on the island.”

That said, it warns prospective visitors to respect the environment and the small town that is what makes Chathams so popular.

“There is opposition on the island to newcomers,” he said. “Tourism activities are coming and going but we made sure there was a way to get back.”

This means that travel companies pay $ 25 per trip to Chathams, which uses the money to pay for services that benefit local people, such as building a swimming pool.

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