Friday, January 18, 2013

My last days on the Chathams

Owenga - in jolly company!
Wednesday I took the opportunity to go to Owenga with the tour group, as it was too misty for their flight to Pitt Island, which put my getting to Pitt at all in jeopardy, as I knew I would be going the day after them.  And time was now running out with Friday - and the flight home - looming large.
The wharf at Owenga

Owenga.  Sheep of all descriptions and in all states of shorn-ness, lovely weather -that mist cleared away as the day developed - wonderful beaches (which I think almost goes without saying when describing the Chathams!), and shells.  The sand on the beaches is made of very finely ground shell, and in Owenga the shells were whole - various types of paua, scallops and myriad other fishy homes covered the beach - Shelly Bay in particular.
The jolly company was jolly nice, a lovely group of people, and the lunch at the new wharf at Owenga was welcome.  We saw a Chathams Island parrot - a parea - larger than a kereru - and stopped off at the art studio of Eva Cherie Tuck, local artist.  
The ring of volcanoes

Thursday and the tour group has gone to Pitt.  It's quite lonely now without them!!  There's not a lot to do here in Waitangi, and after the best part of a week I've done most of it.  This is the commercial heart of the Islands, and the lack of entertainment I've been told by a number of Islanders is why people leave.  Was chatting to a couple of fishermen out from Napier - 2 days out, 8 days fishing, 2 days back - and one was an Islander who said the boredom drove him to leave.  Families leave when the children get to High School age, or else the children leave and board at various schools in New Zealand, usually in a town where they have family.  They are Chatham Islanders though, and a good number of them do come back - to teach at the local schools, to fish, to farm, to work or to raise their own families ("trucks and boats!  A great place for a boy to grow up!") or later on to retire.  
The fishing is plentiful, but families are the wealth of this place, and there is plenty of room for them.
Red cliffs on Wharf Road, Waitangi
Some days, some things are MORE IMPORTANT!!!

So that's my Chatham Islands odyssey all but over.
Would I live here?   
No, not me.
Would I return?  
Yes.  For a complete break away from the rat race, yes, the Chathams would definitely be high up on my list.  Or a fishing holiday.  The fish really are plentiful and superb!

And I would stay at Hotel Chathams every time! 

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