My thoughts on the Cook Islands…..

My thoughts on the Cook Islands…..

Takes me a while to process my thoughts, must be old age!

The Cook Islands is nice but just not for me. Perfect if you want a hosteling or WWOOFing holidays, just when it comes to these locations you really need to spend good money and stay in luxury. Whilst there are a few luxury hotels they are just not my standard of ultimate luxury. The small things like waiters cycling around as not to make a noise and disturb you. It has to be ultra clean and everything in working order and of course a over water bungalow. Perhaps even your meals delivered by boat.

This is just me and having experienced this luxury in French Polynesia, nothing else really compares unless you are staying on Necker Island but there you are spending $54,000 a night and have everything at your disposal.

Sorry probably makes me sound like a snob or a *^%%{}{] take your pick! I do believe when we have worked hard for our money we can sometimes splash out on the finer things.

French Polynesia:
2005
2005
2005
2005

Goodbye Rarotonga…..

Well today is our last day in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. We spent a little time admiring the view from our balcony and Sangeet wrote a couple of postcards. As we still had the car we then decided to drive around the island.

Whilst walking out of the hostel we bumped into a couple from Blenheim, New Zealand who we have met before, they were going to the Mooring restaurant so we decided to give them a lift, especially as they were a great couple. They invited us to stay at their house they gave us their address and even said “we can pick you up from Picton.
Once we dropped them off we went to an Internet cafe Deli-licious, Sangeet tried the fruit smoothie made with local papaya and banana, I had a cappuccino. We logged onto the computer and booked the accommodation for New Zealand. (Our flight is today at 4:15pm the length is four and a half hours yet we get to New Zealand tomorrow at 8pm, I still find it so fascinating. Some people left New Zealand on a Friday evening and arrived in Rarotonga on Thursday evening so relived their Friday again! Just imagine that….you are having a bad day so you can fly to the Cook Islands and relive that day again!!!)

Afterwards we drove to the Maire Nui Gardens where Sangeet fell in love with the garden and atmosphere. We walked around the garden and saw some amazing plants, tropical flowers and vegetables, a lot of which is served in the on site cafe. They had mangos and papaya growing in the garden too. After the walk we ordered a feta cheese salad and a fruit smoothie with local fruits, Sangeet could taste the freshness I could not!

There are two roads that circle the island, an inner road and outer road. all the shops, restaurants, resorts etc are on the outer road which is the road most people use. we decided to drive on the inner road today where we saw lots of houses and plantations. Yesterday when we finished the walk all three of us were so glad that we just walked towards the car, apparently there is a waterfall (Papua or Wigmore’s Waterfall) at the end near the car park which we totally missed! Today we went back to have a look at it. As the tmpretaure was hot (around 30 degrees C) the waterfall was dry. Also the area around the waterfall is not well looked after. The little waterfalls that we saw as we walked down through the rainforest from the Needle were much more impressive.

After seeing the dismal waterfall we spent a little time at Aro’a beach, got gas, had a look at the golf course near the airport then headed to the post office to send the postcards. We then went to check in. There is a departure tax to pay, NZ$55.00 per person! just before security there is the bank Westpac where they take payment and stamp your boarding pass to say you have paid.
I still cannot get over the fact the flight will be four and a half hours yet we arrive 23 hours later, amazing!

After arriving in Auckland we checked into the airport across the road from the airport:

Novotel Auckland airport
Auckland International Airport
Ray Emery Drive
Auckland 2022

Are we still in Rarotonga…..?

Are we still in Rarotonga…..?

Today we decided to walk the cross island walk, an amazing walk which starts in the north of the island and finishes in the south. One can do the walk from south to north but best starting it in the north, as you can see the marked route more clearly so there is a greater chance of taking a wrong turn, if started from the south. The walk is very challenging but you are rewarded with passing through some of the islands most impressive natural scenery. The walk is about three to four hours, in wet weather it can get very slippery, remember to take plenty of water and mosquito repellent.

About 2km into the walk we met Lee who arrived this morning from LA. he lives in Perth, Scotland. He joined us for the walk which was nice. We did not see anybody else at all during the walk.

Before heading out for the walk we decided to hire a car from the hostel, 24 hours hire for NZ$40, Paul the manager said it will help us tomorrow as we can just leave the car at the airport and he will pick it up. We drove the car to the south of the island and parked it at the end of the cross island walk route, we then took the anticlockwise bus to the north, it was very busy. We began the walk by celebrating with an ice lolly!

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After completing the walk we picked up the car and drove to town, where we dropped off Lee after exchanging contact details. We went for a drink at Club Bana Bistro, Sangeet had a mango, pineapple, papaya and banana smoothie, I had a cappuccino. The smoothie was huge and very tasty!

As we needed to use the internet we popped over to ‘click internet’, a internet shop to use their computers, unfortunately the internet for the whole island was down!! We then popped into the ‘Perfumes of Rarotonga’ I bought a couple of ice pops which were very nice, reminded me of my school days. Sangeet bought a couple of postcards and some gifts. The shop makes soap from the local coconuts.

After some time relaxing at Cooks Corner terminal and watching people go by, we popped back to the car where Sangeet saw a chicken with 11 very young chicks and fell in love with them! She started feeding them salt and vinegar crisps!

We then drove to a restaurant called Tamarind the location and restaurant looked amazing, Sangeet decided to check out the restaurant, whilst I stayed in the car as there were dogs walking around and eyeing up the ‘brown meat’. Sangeet came back and said I should take a look, we ended up ordering drinks and enjoying the views, Sangeet had hot chocolate I had cappuccino. The restaurant had some vegetarian options but could not say if the cheese was vegetarian. We then went to the Indian restaurant called Raviz, we ordered take away and vegetable and onion pakoras to eat there, the pakoras had no flavour and were a disappointment. I ate a few and got the rest to take away, along with Sangeet’s mutter paneer and rice. We arrived back to the hotel in time to see the very cloudy sunset. After some time we popped out to a nearby village hall to see the locals who were singing, it seemed like a play and the singing sounded amazing, it was all in the local language so we are not sure what it was about but still enjoyed it! We stayed there for about thirty minutes before heading back to the hostel.

At the hostel Sangeet had the mutter paneer with rice which were VERY chilli, I had a couple more pakoras which tasted awful. Around the hostel there is a dog, the owners live a few houses away, I gave the pakoras to the dog, he loved them and ate every bit up. I then gave it crackers which it also loved and ate. Unfortunatley I could not find any other food and Sangeet would not allow me to give it the hot mutter paneer. I think I have a new friend especially as it is now sleeping on our balcony!

Pesky mosquitoes…..

The mosquitoes in the Cook Islands are vicious! Nothing seems to distract them , we bought the local repellant called Bushman but that has not worked, we even tried locally made deterrents but that has also not worked. Perhaps we deserve it for all the sweet treats we had in America!

Fill up on a free breakfast…..!

Fill up on a free breakfast…..!

When you are on an island where food is limited for vegetarians you learn to have a VERY good breakfast, especially when it is free! So I spent some time over indulging in bread and fruit, basically so we could go without lunch.

We got talking to a couple (Joanne and Keith) from Huddersfield (Sangeet’s home town!) we exchanged travelling experiences which was fun. It felt like we were talking for a few minutes, it was actually a couple of hours!

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Afterwards Sangeet and I grabbed the kayaks and snorkelling gear courtesy of the Etu Moana and went into the lagoon. It was a fantastic sight, there is a good trick, to paddle up to the coral and then stop paddling, just let the kayak glide over it, that way you do not disturb the sea creatures. You see fish in between the coral. I also paddled 50 feet away from the strong waves which were hitting the coral reef with huge force, it got a bit scary so I paddled back!!

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Sangeet swam out quite some distance, I found it strange to be able to look underneath the water and still breath though I have been snorkelling before, it was quite some time ago! You automatically want to hold your breath. I got quite a lot of cuts from the coral on my hands and feet. They feel like paper cuts.

Oct 17, 2012 10:32 AM

Afterwards I went for a walk, I am desperately trying to get free wifi the rates here are pretty high. The wifi in our hotel is provided by Zenbu, http://www.zenbu.net.nz/
The rates are as follows (correct at time of writing)

Price is NZ dollars
$6 for 20mb
$12 for 40mb
$18 for 60mb
$24 for 80mb
$30 for 100mb
$45 for 150mb
$60 for 200mb
$75 for 250mb
$90 for 300mb

Also the speeds are not great. I walked past houses, to see if they had open wifi, everybodies wifi is locked down……pity!

When I got back to the hotel Sangeet and I decided to walk up to the highest peak on the island, it takes about 20 minutes, on the way we passed a hotel called Paradise Cove, the hotel prices are very reasonable and most overlook the lagoon…..I think this is more geared towards backpackers. Yes, I know what you are thinking “but you two are also backpackers!” This part of the trip we decided on a bit of luxury!

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The walk to the peak had amazing views of the lagoon as we got to the top, we sawis access to that peak.

On the way back we passed through a restaurant called Puffy’s and asked what vegetarian dishes they do, the answer was “none!”

We decided to walk back along the beach. We saw some fish on the sand obviously they were dead….I think they committed suicide. Here we saw plenty of fish swim very fast towards the beach and then jump up out of the water then swim back.

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As we arrived back at the hotel we got chatting to an American couple from California (Phil and Candy) who have been coming here for the last five years, we sat with them and watched the sunset. Another couple passed us, they were from Leeds (20 minutes from where we live!) they got married here a couples of days ago. Phil and Candy asked us if we wanted some of the fresh vegetables they bought that day and gave us a bag of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onion., carrots and capsicum as we left. It was very generous and nice of them.

In the evening we cut the salad, which tasted very nice, Sangeet also made tomato soup with with the fresh tomatoes. I also had crackers and peanut butter.

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Cook Islands…..

Cook Islands…..

We arrived in Rarotonga at 6am the flight was with air New Zealand which was okay – cabin crew were friendly and safety video made us chuckle. As we had our Virgin frequent flyer details on the flight (all being part of Star Alliance) we thought we would automatically get the special meals, this was not the case. The options were beef or chicken!! Luckily they had some vegetarian options which were edible’ish!!. You have to ask the cabin crew for these.

We arrived in Rarotonga at 6am and the connecting flight to Aitutaki was at 8am. The check in desk opened at 7:30 so we just hung around the airport. At Rarotonga airport Papa Jack welcomed us all with a song which was pretty cool. It was around 20 celcius which for me felt cold but suppose at 7:30am it is warm. Lets hope it gets HOT!

Papa Jack
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Sweets given on the flight, Pranks!?!?
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Once we arrived at Aitutaki it was 9am and we were greeted with fresh flower garlands by the resort staff! The transfer to the resort was complimentary. It took ten minutes to get there:

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Aitutaki airport:
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Etu Moana
PO Box 123
Aitutaki
Cook Islands
T: 682 31 458
F: 682 31 459
E: onthebeach@etumoana.com
W: www.etumoana.com

As soon as we got to the resort the staff gave us a delicious fresh cocunut drink served in the cocunut. The resort is stunning very relaxed and friendly staff, from our villa we have great views of the lagoon. There are only ten villas at the resort so it feels very cosy.

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After checking into the hotel, we were offered a fruit breakfast beside the pool and honesty bar. Breakfast was delicious, all the fruit is grown locally. There is passion fruit, breadfruit, bananas, coconut, yogurt, bread and jams The fruit tasted amazing, as if it had just been picked. During breakfast we met another couple from Switzerland who had just checked in aswell – they are in Aitutaki for three weeks, lucky them. They have already been here two weeks so gave us some tips on what to do and see. They warned us that food is very expensive here especially groceries.

The room
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Afterwards we had a wander around the amazing gardens where there are lots of cockerels, chickens and cats! We then went to the beach just a few meters away and had a paddle in the ocean. Then we went to our villa to freshen up.

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