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Pitcairn Islands
Pitkern Ailen
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem"Come ye Blessed"
"God Save the Queen"
(and largest city)
Official language(s) English, Pitkern[citation needed]
Ethnic groups  British, Polynesian, or (mixed)
Government British Overseas Territory
 -  Sovereign Elizabeth II
 -  Governor George Fergusson
 -  Mayor Mike Warren
 -  Total 47 km2 
18.1 sq mi 
 -  2008 estimate 50 (223rd (last))
 -  Density 1/km2 (197th)
2.7/sq mi
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Time zone (UTC-8)
Internet TLD .pn
Calling code 64

The Pitcairn Islands (pronounced /ˈpɪtkɛərn/;[1] Pitkern: Pitkern Ailen), officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British overseas territory (formerly a British colony), the last remaining in the Pacific. The four islands – named Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total area of about 18 square miles (47 km2). Only Pitcairn, the second largest and measuring about 2 miles across, is inhabited.

The islands are best known as home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This story is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only 50 inhabitants (from nine families), Pitcairn is also notable for being the least populated and most remote jurisdiction in the world (although it is not a sovereign nation). The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.[2]



The mutineers turning Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from the Bounty, 29 April 1789

The original settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians who appear to have lived on Pitcairn and Henderson for several centuries. Although archaeologists believe that Polynesians were living on Pitcairn as late as the 15th century, the islands were uninhabited when they were discovered by Europeans.[3]

Ducie and Henderson Islands are believed to have been discovered by Europeans on 26 January 1606 by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, sailing for the Spanish crown, who named them La Encarnación ("The Incarnation") and San Juan Bautista ("Saint John the Baptist"), respectively. However, some sources express doubt about exactly which of the islands were visited and named by Queirós, suggesting that Queirós’ La Encarnación may actually have been Henderson Island, and San Juan Bautista may have been Pitcairn Island.[4]

Pitcairn Island was discovered on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret (though according to some it had perhaps been visited by Queirós in 1606). It was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island. Robert Pitcairn was the son of British Marine Officer John Pitcairn.

Geodesy Collection on Pitcairn Island

Carteret, who sailed without the newly invented accurate marine chronometer, charted the island at 25° 2’ south and 133° 21’ west of Greenwich, but although the latitude was reasonably accurate the longitude was incorrect by about 3°. This made Pitcairn difficult to find, as highlighted by the failure of Captain James Cook to locate the island in July 1773.[5][6]

In 1790, nine of the mutineers from the Bounty and Tahitian companions (six men, 11 women and a baby), some of whom may have been kidnapped from Tahiti, settled on Pitcairn Island and set fire to the Bounty[7]. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay. The ship itself was discovered in 1957 by National Geographic explorer Luis Marden. Although the settlers were able to survive by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among the settlers. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams and Ned Young turned to the scriptures using the ship's Bible as their guide for a new and peaceful society. Young eventually died of an asthmatic infection. The Pitcairners also converted to Christianity; later they would convert from their existing form of Christianity to Seventh-day Adventism after a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s. After the rediscovery of Pitcairn, John Adams was granted amnesty for his mutiny.

The islanders reported that it was not until 27 December 1795 that the first ship since the Bounty was seen from the island, but as she did not approach the land, they could not make out to what nation she belonged. A second appeared some time in 1801, but did not attempt to communicate with them. A third came sufficiently near to see their habitations, but did not venture to send a boat on shore. The American trading ship Topaz under the command of Mayhew Folger was the first to visit the island and communicate with them when they spent 10 hours at Pitcairn in February 1808. A report of Folger's find was forwarded to the Admiralty mentioning the mutineers and a more precise location of the island—25° 2’ S latitude, 130° W longitude[8]—however, this rediscovery was not known to Sir Thomas Staines, who commanded a Royal Navy flotilla of two ships (HMS Briton and HMS Tagus) which found the island at 25° .4’ S (by meridian observation) on 17 September 1814. Staines sent a party ashore and wrote a detailed report for the Admiralty.[9][10][11]

Church of Adamstown

Pitcairn Island became a British colony in 1838 and was among the first territories to extend voting rights to women. By the mid-1850s the Pitcairn community was outgrowing the island and its leaders appealed to the British government for assistance. They were offered Norfolk Island and on 3 May 1856, the entire community of 193 people set sail for Norfolk on board the Morayshire, arriving on 8 June after a miserable five-week trip. But after eighteen months on Norfolk, seventeen of the Pitcairners returned to their home island; five years later another twenty-seven did the same.

Since a population peak of 233 in 1937, the island has been suffering from emigration, primarily to New Zealand, leaving some fifty people living on Pitcairn.

There are allegations of a long history and tradition of sexual abuse of girls as young as seven, which culminated in 2004 in the charging of seven men living on Pitcairn, and another six now living abroad, with sex-related offences, including rape. On 25 October 2004, six men were convicted, including Steve Christian, the island's mayor at the time. See Pitcairn rape trial of 2004. After the six men lost their final appeal, the British government set up a prison on the island with an annual budget of NZD 950,000. The men began serving their sentences in late 2006, and all but one have now been granted home detention status.

Ducie Island was rediscovered in 1791 by the British Captain Edwards aboard HMS Pandora, while searching for the Bounty mutineers. He named it after Francis, Lord Ducie, a captain in the Royal Navy. It was annexed by Britain on 19 December 1902, and in 1938 it was formally incorporated into Pitcairn to become part of a single administrative unit (the "Pitcairn Group of Islands"). Henderson Island was rediscovered on 17 January 1819 by a British Captain James Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules. On 2 March 1819, Captain Henry King, sailing aboard the Elizabeth, landed on the island to find the king's colours already flying. His crew scratched the name of their ship into a tree, and for some years the island's name was Elizabeth or Henderson. Henderson Island was annexed by Britain and incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938. Oeno Island was discovered on 26 January 1824 by U.S. Captain George Worth aboard the whaler Oeno. On 10 July 1902, Oeno was annexed by Britain. It was incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938.


Politics of the Pitcairn Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Mayor is the head of government. The territories' constitution is the Local Government Ordinance of 1964. In terms of population, the Pitcairn Islands is the smallest democracy in the world.


The Pitcairn Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, meaning defence is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and Her Majesty's Armed Forces.


View of Bounty Bay
Map of Pitcairn Islands. Source:CIA World Factbook

The Pitcairn Islands form the southeasternmost extension of the geological archipelago of the Tuamotus of French Polynesia and consist of five islands: Pitcairn Island, Sandy Island (the last one found), Oeno Island (atoll with five islets), Henderson Island and Ducie Island (atoll with four islets).

The only permanently inhabited island, Pitcairn, is accessible only by boat through Bounty Bay.

Henderson Island, covering about 86% of the territory's total land area and supporting a rich variety of animals in its nearly inaccessible interior, is also capable of supporting a small human population, but access is difficult, its outer shores comprising steep limestone cliffs of sharp coral.

The Pitcairn Islands were formed by a centre of upwelling magma called the Pitcairn hotspot.

The other islands are at a distance of more than 100 km (60 mi) and are not habitable.

The Pitcairn Islands are one of two places in the world in which the plant species Glochidion pitcairnense occurs.

Satellite photo of Pitcairn Island
Island or atoll Type Land area
Total area
July 2008
Ducie Island Atoll 0.7 3.9* 24°40′09″S 124°47′11″W / 24.66917°S 124.78639°W / -24.66917; -124.78639
Henderson Island Uplifted coral island 37.3 37.3 24°22′01″S 128°18′57″W / 24.36694°S 128.31583°W / -24.36694; -128.31583
Oeno Island Atoll 0.65 16.65* 23°55′26″S 130°44′03″W / 23.92389°S 130.73417°W / -23.92389; -130.73417
Pitcairn Island Volcanic island 4.6 4.6 50 25°04′00″S 130°06′00″W / 25.0666667°S 130.1°W / -25.0666667; -130.1
Pitcairn Islands
(all islands)
43.25 62.45 50 23°55'26" to 25°04'00"S,
124°47'11" to 130°44'03"W

* Includes reef flat and lagoon of the atolls.


Pitcairn Island as seen from a Globe view with other Pacific Islands

The fertile soil of the Pitcairn valleys produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, and beans. The inhabitants of this tiny economy exist on fishing, subsistence farming, and handicrafts, with barter being an important part of the economy. The major sources of revenue are the sale of postage stamps to collectors, honey, and the sale of handicrafts to passing ships, most of which are plying the United Kingdom to New Zealand route via the Panama Canal. Trade is restricted by the jagged geography of the island, which lacks a harbour or airstrip, forcing all trade to be made by longboat to visiting ships. Occasionally, passengers from expedition-type cruise ships will come ashore for a day, weather permitting.[citation needed]

The island has a labor force of 15 men and women (as of 2004)[12]

Electricity on the island is provided by gas/diesel generators.


The majority of the resident Pitcairn Islanders are the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and Tahitians. Pitkern is a creole language derived from 18th century English, with elements of the Tahitian language. It is spoken as a first language by the population and is taught alongside standard English at the island's only school. It is closely related to the creole language Norfuk, spoken on Norfolk Island, because Norfolk was repopulated in the mid-19th century by Pitcairners. In September 2003, a baby was born on the island for the first time in 17 years. Another child, Adrianna Tracey Christian, was born on Pitcairn on 3 March 2007. In February 2005, Shirley and Simon Young became the first married outsider couple in recorded history to obtain citizenship on Pitcairn. All of the Pitcairn Islanders are Seventh-day Adventist Christians.[13]

Pitcairn residents

Due to a lack of educational facilities on the island, children of school age are sent to boarding schools either in New Zealand or Australia. As a result of this, many elect not to return to the island, with a memorable description of the island from an ex-resident being "A rural slum". This drain on the population has resulted in the labour force of the island being estimated (by the CIA World Factbook) at 15 able-bodied men in 2004.

Culture and society

Pitcairn culture, like its language, is a mix of English and Tahitian influences. A successful Seventh-day Adventist mission in the 1890s was important in shaping Pitcairn society. In recent years, the church has declined, with only about eight islanders worshipping regularly, but most of them still attend church on special occasions.[14] The Sabbath is observed as a day of rest and as a mark of respect for observant Adventists.

The once-strict moral codes, which prohibited dancing, public displays of affection, smoking, and consumption of alcohol, have been relaxed in recent years. Islanders and visitors no longer require a six-month license to purchase, import, and consume alcohol. There is now one licensed Cafe and Bar on the island, and the Government Store sells alcohol and cigarettes.

Education is free and compulsory between the ages of five and 15.[15] All of the island’s seven children were enrolled in school in 2000.[15]


  • Telephones: Pitcairn uses New Zealand's international dialing code, +64. Each and every building on the Island has a telephone for local and international calls (installed Sept. 2006, replacing a single wired party line)
  • Radio: There is no broadcast station. Marine band walkie-talkie radios are used to maintain contact among people in different areas of the island. Foreign stations can be picked up on Shortwave Radio.
  • Amateur Radio: QRZ.COM lists amateur radio operators as Dave Brown (VP6DB), Terry Young (VP6TY, VR6TY and VR8TY), Miralda Warren (VP6MW), Betty Christian (VP6YL), Tom Christian (VR6TC), Brian Young (VP6BX) and the Pitcairn Island AR Club Station (VP6RAC).[16] Islanders keep schedules: 2200-2300 UTC most days of the week, Dave Brown VP6DB is on the air at 14.226.5 MHz and 14.247 MHz. 2330-0100 UTC on Tuesdays, Tom Christian VP6TC is on the air at 21.348 MHz, or at 14.181 MHz. 1700 UTC on Wednesdays, Betty Christian VP6YL is available at 21.325 MHz, 1700 UTC on Fridays, you might be able to speak with Tom Christian VP6TC at 21.248 MHz.[17]
  • Television: There are 2 live English TV channels from satellite, CNN and TCM Movies; most homes have DVD-players to watch videos and now some have Blu-Ray players. Free-To-Air satellite dishes can be used to watch foreign TV.
  • Internet: There is one Government-sponsored satellite internet connection, networked to all houses on the island providing 256kbps broadband. Pitcairn's country code (top level domain) is .pn.


The settlers of the Pitcairns all arrived by some form of boat or ship; the most famous was the Bounty, on which the mutiny occurred and which was burned in Bounty Bay.

Pitcairn Island does not have an airport or seaport; the islanders rely on longboats to ferry people and goods between ship and shore through Bounty Bay. The island does have one small harbor and launch ramp that is used to dock and load long-boats, but it is so small and the water so shallow that only small-craft can fit.

To get to Pitcairn today, you can travel on board Pitcairn's new dedicated Passenger / Cargo supply ship chartered by the Pitcairn Island Government, the MV Claymore II, from Mangareva, Gambier Islands, French Polynesia. Mangareva itself is reachable by air from the French Polynesian capital Papeete.

There is one 6.4-kilometre (4 mi) paved road leading up from Bounty Bay through Adamstown. On land, walking has historically been the way of getting around, but now all islanders drive all-terrain vehicles (i.e. quadbikes). Each adult on Pitcairn owns a HONDA 4x4 ATV.

A 4x4 SUV (a Suzuki Vitara) was shipped to the Island in May 2005


See also


  1. ^ OED2
  2. ^ United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories
  3. ^ Diamond, Jared M (2005). Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Penguin. pp. 132. ISBN 9780143036555. OCLC 62868295. "But by A.D. 1606 … Henderson’s population had ceased to exist. Pitcairn’s own population had disappeared at least by 1790 … and probably disappeared much earlier." 
  4. ^ Pitcairn Islands, "History of Government and Laws, Part 15" 30 September 2006
  5. ^ Hooker, Brian. "Down with Bligh - hurrah for Tahiti". Finding New Zealand. 
  6. ^ Winthrop, Mark. "The Story of the Bounty Chronometer". Lareau Web Parlour. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  7. ^ HMS Bounty
  8. ^ "Mutineers of the Bounty". The European Magazine, and London Review (Philological Society of London,) 69: 134. January-June 1816.,M1. 
  9. ^ Staff. The Annual Biography and Obituary for the Year ..., Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1831, Volume 15 "Chapter X Sir Thomas Staines" pp. 366-367
  10. ^ History of Pitcairn IslandHistory of Pitcairn Island, Pitcairn Study Centre. Retrieved 15 September 2008
  11. ^ Pitcairn descendants of the Bounty Mutineers, Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  12. ^ "CIA World Factbook - Pitcairn Islands". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Turning Point for Historic Adventist Community on Pitcairn Island" 30 September 2006
  15. ^ a b "Territories and Non-Independent Countries". 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links

General information
News media

Coordinates: 25°04′S 130°06′W / 25.067°S 130.1°W / -25.067; -130.1

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Pitcairn Islands article)

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Pitcairn Islands
Tedside, Pitcairn Island (by permission of Andrew Christian)
Quick Facts
Capital Adamstown
Government Constitutional democracy
Currency New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Area 47 sq km
Population 48 (July 2007 est.)
Language English (official), Pitkern
Religion Seventh-Day Adventist
Electricity 240V/50Hz
Calling Code 872
Internet TLD .pn
Time Zone UTC -8

The Pitcairn Islands [1] are a loosely grouped handful of tiny islands in the remote South Pacific, farther from any continent than any other inhabited island. The islands are the last British colony in the South Pacific and most isolated British dependency. The rugged main island was settled by the infamous mutineers of the HMS Bounty and their Polynesian companions, and most of Pitcairn's mere four dozen current inhabitants are their descendants. They are one of the least-populated entities given an ISO country code (PN).

  • Pitcairn Island - the only inhabited island of the group
  • Henderson Island - the largest island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several endangered bird species
  • Oeno Island, Sandy Island - a close pair of islands, the locals' "holiday" spot
  • Ducie Island - distant from the others, with lots of exotic bird life
  • Adamstown, the capital and sole settlement containing the entire population of the Pitcairn Islands - a scattered village of households on the main eponymous isle, up the Hill of Difficulty from Bounty Bay.



Pitcairn was either inhabited or frequently visited by Polynesian peoples in earlier centuries (they left glyphs etched in the rocks), and was visited briefly by Portuguese and British explorers (one of whom gave it his name), but it was deserted when in 1790 the infamous mutineers of H.M.A.V. Bounty and their Tahitian companions settled there under the leadership of Fletcher Christian. They burned and sank the ship in what is now called Bounty Bay (there was nowhere else to hide it), and founded a village on Pitcairn. At first a rather lawless community of violent drunks, it was "tamed" when John Adams, the last mutineer to avoid accident or murder, converted the women and children to Christianity. They lived there for 24 years before being rediscovered by the British, who allowed the community to continue. Pitcairn was the first Pacific island to become a British colony (in 1838) and today remains the last vestige of that empire in the South Pacific.

Emigration – first to Norfolk Island and mostly to New Zealand in the last century – and a nearly-prohibitive approach to immigration have thinned the population from a peak of 233 in 1937 to less than 50. Furthermore, the island was rocked in 2004 by accusations of chronic and ubiquitous sexual abuse of the community's young female members (including pre-adolescent girls), and the subsequent investigation of much of the adult male population (including several who were no longer living there), six of whom were sentenced to terms in prison. It's unclear whether the Pitcairn society – already hovering at the lower fringes of self-sufficiency – will survive.


The climate is humid and tropical (the Tropic of Capricorn lies a short distance to the north), with average temperatures ranging from 60°F (16°C) on winter nights to 85°F (30°C) on summer days. Rainfall is moderate with no strong seasonal pattern, just a bit wetter in the winter. The island is subject to infrequent typhoons during the season from November to March.

The islands are each unique, with differing origins. Pitcairn is distinctly volcanic, jutting steeply out of the ocean with a peak of 337 meters, seemingly a stone's throw from the shoreline (in any direction). As such it has very little of what would be called a "beach" – however the word "cliff" gets used a lot – and harbors are hard to come by. Bounty Bay hardly deserves the name, consisting of a small indentation in the shoreline with water deep enough only for small boats without keels and a small sea-level landing area... connected via the Hill of Difficulty to Adamstown. It is the only island of the group with fresh water sources. Henderson is the largest island, a flat coral formation, but raised 50-100 feet above sea level by volcanic activity. It has caves along its shoreline which served as either tombs or ill-fated residences to an ancient people (remember: no fresh water). It might be suitable for building an airstrip if it weren't for all the endangered seabirds that find it an ideal spot to land. Oeno is a small, flat island (accompanied by another sandy island known as "Sandy Island") surrounded by a circular reef, a typical South-Pacific paradise with palm trees, lovely beaches, and a sheltered lagoon. Ducie is distant from the others (over 100 miles from Henderson and well over 200 from Pitcairn), a circular reef and island, popular with seabirds.

Location of Pitcairn in the world
Location of Pitcairn in the world

The remoteness and ruggedness of Pitcairn's geography, the insularity of its bureaucracy, and the scarcity of its resources conspire to make it a very difficult place to visit.

Visitors staying on the island for any length of time require a license from the governor, because the irregularity of transport means they're effectively residents of the island for the next several weeks or even months. These licenses require proof of good health, the means to leave at the end of the visit (e.g., passage on an upcoming ship), at least NZ$300/week to cover your cost of living on Pitcairn, various other conditions, and a $100 fee; they are valid for six months. [2]

By plane

There is no airstrip in the islands, and it's out of range of land-launched helicopters, so flying is not an option. (The largest flat area on Pitcairn would offer a very short runway, and level Henderson Island is both a UNESCO-listed bird sanctuary and inconveniently located.) The nearest airport is on Mangareva in the Gambier Islands, 330 miles away.

Bounty Bay and the town square of Adamstown, connected by the newly-paved Hill of Difficulty (by permission of Andrew Christian)
Bounty Bay and the town square of Adamstown, connected by the newly-paved Hill of Difficulty (by permission of Andrew Christian)

Pitcairn Island is accessible to tourists via scheduled visits by a small number of commercial cruise ships, and via private ocean-traversing yachts. Sailing from French Polynesia is relatively practical; from almost anywhere else (e.g., New Zealand, Chile) it requires crossing thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Pacific Expeditions - S/V Southern Cross, Cook Islands, +682-52400. [3] Offers numerous voyages from January to April each year from Mangareva in the Gambier Islands to the Pitcairn Islands, each with a different focus. (has a poor reputation)
  • Ocean Voyages, 1709 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA, +1 415-332-4681 (intl), 1-800-299-4444 (USA). [4] Books charters in the region.
  • Tallship Soren Larsen, +64 9 817 8799, [5]. Sails from Easter Island to French Polynesia via Pitcairn once a year.

The island is located about halfway between New Zealand and the Panama Canal, near a main shipping lane, so travel via cargo ship is possible several times a year. Contact the Pitcairn Island Administration in New Zealand (+64-9-366-0186) to arrange passage; fares are typically US$800-1000 one-way.

There is no safe harbor for medium-sized or larger vessels; visitors access the island itself by small longboats launched from Bounty Bay (which is scarcely large enough to be called a "bay") to meet up with ships anchored off-shore.

Get around

Since October 2005 there is now one short paved road on Pitcairn (up the Hill of Difficulty from the landing at Bounty Bay to Adamstown), but most routes around Pitcairn Island are dirt trails, generally very rugged. Walking and personal all-terrain vehicles (3- and 4-wheel "motorbikes") are the main ways to get from one place to another, and a bike is usually available for rent.


English is the official language and spoken by everyone. Pitkern, a mixture of 18th century English and Tahitian with a bit of sailing jargon thrown in (e.g., "all hands" means "everyone"), is spoken by the residents amongst themselves.

Fletcher Christian's Cave (by permission of Andrew Christian)
Fletcher Christian's Cave (by permission of Andrew Christian)
  • The remains of the Bounty are in Bounty Bay. The ship was deliberately burned and sunk by the mutineers, and it's been well picked over by divers in the meantime, but there's still an allure to seeing (what little is left of) the vessel of the true tale that made "Captain Bligh" and "the Bounty" household names.
  • The Bounty's anchor is on display in front of the Public Hall in the town square, where the library/post office building, and the Adventist church can also be found.
  • The new museum in Adamstown contains artifacts from the Bounty (including Fletcher Christian's Bible), stamps, issues of National Geographic featuring the islands, and other items of local interest. One of the ship's four cannons is planned to be displayed here.
  • The island's school lies up in the western "suburbs" of Adamstown.
  • The grave of John Adams, the last surviving mutineer who first Christianized the community, the only one with a preserved grave.
  • Fletcher Christian's cave, past the school and further up, is where the lead mutineer is said to have watched for approaching ships and/or hid from his ruthless fellow settlers when necessary.
  • A Galapagos tortoise named Mrs Turpin was left on the island in the early 20th century, and now lives in Tedside on the northwest shore of the island.
  • Taro Ground in the south of Pitcairn is the largest flat area on the island and site of the island's traditional link to the outside world: its ham radio station.
  • Flatland is a smaller plateau at the upper extent of Adamstown, with a tennis court, volleyball, and picnic facilities.
  • Garnet's Ridge, at 300 m one of the highest parts of a tall island, offers great views to both the west and east.
  • Highest Point is the... highest point on the island, at 337 m.
Down Rope (by permission of Andrew Christian)
Down Rope (by permission of Andrew Christian)
  • Down Rope, a cliff on the southeast edge of the island, has ancient Polynesian petroglyphs in its face and an isolated sandy beach at its base.
  • Gudgeon is a sea-level cave on the southwest side of the island, which hides a sandy beach in a large, wide space carved by the waves.
  • If the ocean is calm enough, go swimming in St. Paul's Pool, a picturesque tidal pool nestled among the seaside rocks in eastern part of Pitcairn. (Swimming in the ocean itself generally isn't safe due to the rocky shoreline.)
  • Sail yourself or perhaps travel with the locals to another of the islands. Oeno has sandy beaches suitable for swimming, Henderson offers rare opportunities for birdwatching and exploration of ancient caves (dwellings?), and both are good for snorkeling or scuba diving among coral reefs and a few shipwrecks. Ducie is over 300 miles away, out of range of the islanders' boats, and therefore rarely visited, but is also good for seeing rare birds.
  • Every year on January 23, "Bounty Day" is celebrated with a huge community dinner and the burning of a model of the Bounty.


The internal economy is based primarily on barter, with residents producing much of their own food and sharing supplies from passing freighters or large fish catches communally. When money is used, the New Zealand dollar is the standard currency, but easily-exchanged currencies such as US or Australian dollars or UK pounds will be accepted.

The main locally-produced items for sale are handicrafts (especially woven baskets, models of the Bounty, and carvings of local wildlife out of miro wood harvested from Henderson Island) and honey, and the island's postage stamps (also available by mail overseas) are of interest to philatelists. Anything else has to be imported, and is priced accordingly.


There is one cafe called Christian's Cafe which is open every Friday from 6:00pm till late. a small co-op general store which stocks imported foodstuffs from New Zealand or French Polynesia, mostly ordered by customers in advance. It is open 3 mornings/week, an hour each. The local cuisine relies heavily on seafood. Deep-fried nanwi (bluefish) is a local favorite, with red snapper, tuna, whitefish, grouper, wahoo, and others also being common. Pilhi is made from pureed fruit (such as banana, sweet potato, or breadfruit) with sugar and milk, then baked to custard consistency. Food staples grown on the island, include arrowroot, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cabbages, pineapples, melons, citrus fruits, bananas, and breadfruit. Some families keep poultry or goats.


Alcohol was prohibited on Pitcairn prior to 1991, It was then legalized and a license was then introduced to purchase and consume alcohol on the island.

In 2009, the alcohol license was abolished. The Islanders and visitors are no longer required to purchase a license for consumption.

The Government now offers a Commercial License for Bars, Clubs, Restaurants & Cafe's to sell alcohol.

There is one Cafe & Bar, Christian's Cafe open on Fridays from 6:30PM till late.

The Government Store on the island sells alcohol and tobacco at duty free prices.


There are 2 types of accommodation on Pitcairn.

• “Home-stay” style. This is arranged prior to your arrival on the Island. Accommodation rates are Standard at US$70 per person per night. This includes all meals and Laundry. Check with your host about rates for Telephone and Internet access.

• Private 3 bedroom Fully furnished Chalet Plas Pitcairn Chalet [6]

When you book your trip to Pitcairn you may contact individuals to book accommodation in advance otherwise the tourism co-ordinator will arrange home stay accommodation upon your arrival and introduce you to your hosts.


There are no jobs per se available to non-residents, only a few professional services (e.g. teacher, nurse, social worker) hired by the government in New Zealand, and a pastor assigned by the international Adventist church. On the other hand, anyone taking up temporary residence on the island is expected to be self-supporting, and to help with community needs such as crewing the longboats to reach supply vessels.

Stay healthy

Registered medical practitioners spend time on the island periodically, but most health issues are handled by a nurse stationed there (currently the pastor's wife). The island has a small health clinic with dental and X-ray equipment and emergency medications, but is not equipped to deal with major problems, which may require waiting days or weeks for a nearby passing ship to provide evacuation to a medical facility. The island is out-of-range of all evacuation helicopters. Needless to say, this is no place to have a heart attack, stroke, and so on. A full medical check-up back home a couple weeks before arrival is strongly recommended.

Seventh Day Adventist church (by permission of Andrew Christian)
Seventh Day Adventist church (by permission of Andrew Christian)

The population are mostly members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, following mission work in the late 19th century. Although religious observance has declined, church doctrine strongly influences both public practice and civil law. For example, alcohol was legally prohibited until recently; dancing, public displays of affection, and cigarette smoking are frowned upon; and the Sabbath (Saturday) is consistently considered a day of rest (if not worship). Reasonably modest, climate-appropriate western clothing is worn.

The recent trials of several Pitcairn men (including the former mayor and much of the island's workforce) on sexual abuse charges have been very difficult for the close-knit island community, with everyone being a friend or family of at least one of the victims, the suspects, or the convicted. The incident has also brought to the surface tensions over Pitcairn's sovereignty (such as unfamiliar UK laws being tried by New Zealand courts). Strong feelings should be expected, and statements expressing any opinions beyond an acknowledgement of how difficult this has been for the islanders stand a high probability of upsetting someone in your audience.

Don't bring bees or beekeeping equipment. The island's bee population has been certified as disease-free and Pitcairn honey is becoming an important economic activity.


There is satellite phone service on the island, with one public phone (with an answering machine): + 870 762337766. Until recent years, ham radio was the only means of live communication between the island and the outside world, and several residents are operators, on the air regularly each week.

Postal service via New Zealand is infrequent, sometimes taking months for delivery. The post office is open 3 days/week, an hour each.

Thanks to a seismological monitoring station on Pitcairn, the island is now connected via satellite to the internet at 128kbps, with free wireless access throughout Adamstown.


Electricity (240V) is available only for a few hours in the morning and several hours in the evening.

Although there is no broadcast radio or television in the region, most homes are equipped with televisions and VHS/DVD players. If you bring any recordings with you, be sure they are PAL format and DVD region 4 (or bring your own DVD player), as the locals' equipment supports those standards (not NTSC or other DVD regions).

Get out

If you'll be sailing your own ship, the nearest islands are in French Polynesia, roughly to the WNW: the isolated Gambier Islands are 330 miles away, the Acteon Group of the Tuamotu Islands are 450 miles away, and Tahiti and the rest of the Society Islands are a mere 1,300 miles off. Easter Island is about the same distance in the opposite direction.

Passing freighters will likely be bound for either New Zealand or Panama.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


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Proper noun




  1. An island in the South Pacific, part of the British territory of the Pitcairn Islands

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