Pitt Island General Information
Pitt Island is recognised as the ‘Jewel in the Chathams’ crown - home to some of the world’s rarest birds and plants and is the first inhabited place in the world to witness each new day. A place where the days are governed by wind and tide rather than the clock - some say that travelling to Pitt is like stepping back in time, in the very best sense.
As spring approaches, the hardy residents of Pitt Island sit out waiting for the ‘Rangitira’ to make it into Flower Pot Bay.
Their supply ship and main connection with civilisation has been holed-up for four days waiting for the seas to calm.
The locals spring into action, unloading diesel and general goods and loading up cattle and sheep bound for the mainland.
Where is Pitt Island you may well ask?
Situated 20 Km from the Chatham Islands and 870km from Christchurch, the island’s world-wide claim to fame is it is the first populated location on earth to observe the sunrise.
Days are governed by the wind and the tide rather than the clock.
Population – well that is around 40 and they have a school, wharf, church and a landing strip for small planes bringing people and goods to the island and flying out crayfish; a 20 minute flight from the Chathams.
Convenient and quick, but not all plain flying. Rain, winds and fog all cause delays and when seas are rough then periods of isolation are inevitable.
Fishing and farming are predominant, cows for house milk – sheep and cattle for their livelihood and as spring approaches, lambs are threatened by the larger birds such as skuas and giant petrels, part of the natural hazards of farming Pitt Island style.
The school is no ordinary seat of learning – the school recently won the New Zealand Maths Challenge for 2010 / 2011 and 2012, a website-based competition involving 870 NZ schools. Obviously a clever lot!
Daylight saving is always looked forward to as residents busy themselves re-cladding greenhouses ready for planting seedlings. Growing their own crops provides fresh vegetables, hens are definitely free range and self-sufficiency is important.
The island is a haven for bird and sea life and there are always scientists and conservationists arriving to observe and advise locals in all matters.
Daily air flights (weather permitting) are available from the Chathams and a day spent amongst the locals and including a 4WD drive around the island is a highlight.
The Chatham Islands are becoming one of those places to visit and there are packages available for escorted tours, fishing, farming and tramping interests.
The island even has a rugby team and recently played a parliamentary team from the mainland.