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January - June 2017












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From the Prime Minister Kia Orana, To all our visitors and those planning a holiday in the Cook Islands, I’d like to extend to you a very warm greeting and welcome.

Above all, we want you to stay safe in this environment we |



Interview 5

Australian personality Tim Bailey ‘loves a little paradise’


Cook Island Tourism’s Metua Vaiimene’s ‘life’s passion’




23 A ‘heart to heart’ with Pa, a Cook Islands living treasure

Island life & Culture

9 Pacific Weave, a unique cultural shopping experience

As your hosts, we want your stay with us to be as memorable and enjoyable as possible. We are your home away from home and your time with us will be more than comfortable – it will take your breath away! There is much for you to explore and discover, whether you are a first time visitor or a returning holidaymaker. You can do that at your own pace and as your desire allows. There is a natural freedom here that will put you at ease and you will soon learn that Cook Islanders are keen to join you in the fun – out on the lagoon, trekking in the mountains, or dining out at our many restaurants and cafés. Our world is your world to experience – in our culture and traditions, as well as a wide range of recreational activities.

In this issue


10 Meet Air New Zealand’s CI Manager, Marissa Newman 11 Tips for a beach wedding in Rarotonga

Dining & Entertainment

5 9

12 Tony Bullivant, celebrity chef

16 A Guide to Eating & Drinking in Rarotonga 18 Hawaiian music icon Rudy Aquino, now a Cooks music icon

See & Do

22 The Raro Buggy Tour – too much fun!


24 Tips on Diving in Rarotonga 26 The Maitai wreck – 100 years not out!

call our ‘little paradise’. Take care wherever you may be, whether on our roads or out in the water. And allow us to share with you all the reasons why you must come back and see us again! Kia Manuia, Honourable Henry Puna Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism PUBLISHER/EDITOR: Alastair Blount TELEPHONE: +682 20 222 or +682 77 183 EMAIL: DESIGN & LAYOUT: PMP Limited - New Zealand DISTRIBUTION RAROTONGA: 20 222 or 77 876 DISTRIBUTION AITUTAKI: 31 009 POSTAL: PO Box 30 Avarua, The Cook Islands



28 An insider’s look at Aitutaki with Nick Henry 29 Onu Hewitt from Dive Aitutaki



31 Tumunu, an Atiu Tradition



32 ‘Protect a little paradise’ – Te Ipukarea Society


Front cover image: Pa Teuruaa by Jaiah Aria














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COOK ISLANDS Top Jewellery & Gift Store



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Find us on Facebook

Look for our sign west of the airport – opposite the Weather station in Nikao

CoOK ISLANDS SuN A journalist by profession, Tim Bailey is one of the most recognisable faces on Australian television, best known for his long association with Network Ten as weather presenter.


Why Tim Bailey Believes the Cook Islands is the Place to

‘Love a Little Paradise’ The Channel Ten ‘Weather Wall’ promoting Cook Islands holidays

day goes by without multiple conversations about ‘Love a Little Paradise’.

How does the Cook Islands differentiate from other tropical island holiday destinations? It's in its heart and soul. It's the 32-kilometre round island of Raro, no traffic lights, and no buildings taller than a palm tree. Tim with Quinton from Wet & Wild, well-known for their water activities The warmth of the in Aitutaki people, the diversity of accommodation largest travel shows - and options the endless, beautiful speak from my heart on my beaches. love of the Cook Islands.

How did you become a tourism ambassador for the Cook Islands in Australia? In December 2015, the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation found out I'd been travelling to The Cooks for seven years - and that Rarotonga and Aitutaki had stolen my heart.

What was your impression when you first visited the islands? We had been looking through the South Pacific and beyond for ten years - to find a second home. Our extensive search included Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Norfolk Island, Thailand and Malaysia. Seven years ago we discovered Aitutaki and Rarotonga - we haven't been anywhere else since. The unique infrastructure, the ‘aquamarine’, the Kia Orana spirit - a palm-tree paradise that is now in our blood.

After many visits, how do you describe the Cooks holiday experience today? Turn back the clock. Imagine Maui forty years ago. Imagine an easy-going, beautiful lifestyle by an idyllic lagoon. Imagine luxury, and adventure. Imagine colors your eyes won't believe. Then stop imagining and start booking!


Tim Bailey, cooling off at Black Rock Beach on Rarotonga

“It's all about peace, love and sandy feet!” What is it about the Cook Islands that you think Australians, in particular, would most appreciate and enjoy? The personality of paradise! The South Pacific of old with all the trimmings of the ‘here and now’. A perfect place in time, with a seascape that needs to be seen to be believed.

You are a keen surfer. Have you surfed in the Cook Islands? No. Its shallow and local knowledge is a necessity. But

this will change. There are a couple of spots that are calling my name. And, a body board might be added to my kit too.

When you visit Rarotonga with your wife Sam, what do you both most like to do? We do a lap of the island every day by car. Sam and I ‘beachcomb’ for two hours everyday, and we sit at Vaima on the Beach Restaurant planning our future here every day!

away trips to Royal Takitumu, Rarotonga Beach Bungalows, Sea Change Villas, Nautilus Resort and the Pacific Resorts. They have been beautifully displayed on our giant Weather Wall - while I sing the praises of Raro. I also present at Australia's

Then there's radio promotion and many interviews - just like this little gem. To be true, it's a passion.

How do you weave into your working day the fact that you are a tourism ambassador for the Cook Islands? It is always with me. Whether I'm on TV or just at the shops, or having a beer. Not a

It's the Kia Orana vibe. The new Aloha!

What do you want to do on your next visit to the Cook Islands? Stick my head in the lagoon at Titikaveka. Gaze at the colour. It stirs the soul. Order a fish curry at Vaima and watch the sunset. It's all about peace, love and sandy feet!

What is involved with you being an Ambassador for The Cooks? I have been lucky enough to put The Cooks in front of a million plus Australians each week, by way of my TV presentation. I've been on telly for 25 years with Network Ten. The past year we have given

Tim and Sam love the lagoon at Titikaveka


Supreme Tourism Industry Award & Tourism Attractions Award 2016 / 2017

Ph 24006 Muri Beach Spectacular Over Water Night Show & Buffet Dinner !


A1 Meitaki Awards

Acknowledging excellent customer service in the Cook Islands

Thank you to the visitors in the second half of 2016 who nominated an individual and/or business for an A1 Meitaki Award. Nomination forms and drop boxes are located at Cook Islands Tourism Information Centres, at the Rarotonga Airport Departure Hall. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and the Cook Islands Sun publically acknowledge the top nominees, and A1 Meitaki Award certificates are presented. Each of the TOP NOMINATIONS listed below (alphabetically) received multiple nominations. Where an individual was nominated in addition to the business, his/her name is shown in brackets.

THE TOP NOMINATIONS RAROTONGA (alphabetically) • • • • • • • • • • • • •


C oo k I slands T o u rism

ARIKI HOLIDAYS (Jules) BLACK PEARL AT PUAIKURA (Jane Barclay) CAPTAIN TAMA’S CRUIZES (Casanova) CASTAWAY RESORT (Michelle, Paul) CLUB RARO (Sammy, Chuta) COOK’S ISLAND BUS (Mr. Hopeless) EDGEWATER RESORT & SPA (Moana, Peter Pan, activities staff) THE ISLANDER HOTEL (Michael) KOKA LAGOON CRUISES MAGIC REEF BUNGALOWS (Simon, Angela) MURI BEACH CLUB HOTEL ( Vinnie, bar staff, Margaret, Reception) PALM GROVE (Mata Jimmy) PA’S TREKS (Pa, Bruce)

• • • • • • •

RARO BUGGY TOURS (Shaun) RARO QUAD TOURS (Sean Brown, Fili Larkins) RARO SAFARI TOURS (Big V, Veroa Nooapii) SANCTUARY RAROTONGA (Loata, Ruby, Vaseva) STORYTELLERS ECO CYCLE TOURS (Dave, Uncle Jimmy) TIK E-TOURS (Tania, Karl) COOK ISLANDS VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRES ( Marthalina (Rarotonga), Mareta (Atiu)

AITUTAKI (alphabetically) • • •


What People Said about some of the nominees!

Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa: Hospitality service above and beyond the call of duty. Karren from Australia Raro Safari Tours: The guides were friendly and shared so much knowledge about the Rarotongan culture and plantation gardens, followed by a kai and music. Connie from New Zealand Pa’s Treks: Exceptional knowledge and friendliness, care and personal inquiry after service (Bruce & Pa). Amber from Australia The Vaka Cruise: Our tour guide (Ali) on Aitutaki, funny, friendly, very keen about promoting his homeland. He was an excellent ambassador for the C.I. Jono from New Zealand Ariki Holidays: Jules was extremely welcoming and made every effort to accommodate my holiday request. Goes the extra mile and is friendly and informative and lots of fun! Mary from Australia Club Raro: Exceptional service, friendly attitude. Liked that he (Chuta) asked my name and remembered it! Roxanne from Canada Cook’s Island Bus: He (Mr. Hopeless) sang, he made us laugh, and he was so helpful in every way. We loved him and never tired of his jokes! Robin from New Zealand Sanctuary Rarotonga: (Va was) enthusiastic and friendly, extremely helpful and genuinely loved her job. Meaghan from Australia Storyteller Eco Cycle Tours: First hand cultural enlightenment and knowledge of islands flora and their medicinal powers that was second to none (Uncle Jimmy). Tim from Australia Muri Beach Club Hotel: Polite, courteous, friendly, attentive, perfect at their job (Reception and bar staff). Bron from Australia The Islander Hotel: After an awesome (island) show the hotel accommodated us to watch the State-of-Origin league game. Teagan from New Zealand Black Pearl at Puaikura: Fantastic customer/guest service, clean and gave us really great advice on what to see, restaurants, tourism etc. Jannette from Australia Palm Grove: Exceptional customer service, warmth, welcoming, and Mata goes above and beyond what’s expected. Toni from New Zealand Raro Buggy Tours: A great way to see and experience the island. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable and we got a great feed. George from Australia

Raro Safari Tours

Muri Beach Club Hotel

Koka Lagoon Cruises

Your chance to say Meitaki! Reward excellent service in the Cook Islands by nominating an individual or a business for a A1 Meitaki Award. When an A1 Meitaki Award is given, the recipient receives nothing more than grateful acknowledgment for providing excellent service.


A1 MEITAKI AWARD Simply complete an A1 Meitaki Award form at any Cook Islands Tourism Information Centre, or at Rarotonga International Airport, and nominate an individual or a business in the Cook Islands for excellencein service to a visitor. Meitaki maata for your interest in acknowledging excellent service!


C oo k I slands T o u rism


My life’s passion, my life’s work, is to help my country Director Destination Development, Metua Vaiimene Pacific islands.


“We look at blue water cruising, sailing and fishing expeditions, big cruise ships, and luxury expedition cruise ships. But, we need a better harbour, and the outer islands need facilities like moorings and access to Wi-Fi, electricity and water. We’d like to open the northern islands to a small amount of yachting and blue water sailing.”

Air Rarotonga is another key partner in tourism development: “They are our number one supporter in terms of marketing. Air Rarotonga is a quality airline. Interest in inter-island travel is there, but with a relatively low conversion because of the cost of airfares – but domestic air travel is still affordable!”

hat the industry W may not know is that Metua is a qualified

economist on a mission to secure the future of the Cook Islands and the role of tourism in that future. One of his greatest achievements to date has been the launch in 2015 of the Kia Orana Values Project, developed to align Cook Islands’ people, its communities and the tourism industry, with the true values of Cook Islands culture. According to Metua it is about strengthening the connections between community and heritage, and the Cook Islands number one industry – tourism. “The core values of the Kia Orana Values project are Kia Orana - the essence of the Cook Islands Maori people and our culture. It is not only the way we greet each other – it is who we are! Meitaki – means everything is good, well, OK and thank-you all in one; and Mana Tiaki – guardianship of our environment and culture, to preserve for future generations.” Significantly, Metua brings multi-disciplinary experience to his leadership of the Destination Development team. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Pictured with Metua Vaiimene (right) at the Kia Orana Values launch are Cook Islands Tourism Destination Development’s Tina Kae and Noeline Mateariki.

worked for government. It was unsustainable, of course,” said Metua. “A lot of people migrated at that time. That’s when the country began to rely more on tourism to generate revenue.

“The Government changed the structure of the economy by the late 1990s and the growth in visitor numbers started to climb in the 2000s. “That time had a personal impact on my family, which drove me to seek out opportunities to support political and economic reform.

“It is about strengthening the connections between community and heritage, and the Cook Islands number one industry – tourism”.

“I consider myself a ‘development economist’ dedicated to the future of the Cook Islands. My life’s passion, my life’s work is to help my country. “I have lived here all my life. I grew up on Rarotonga,” said Metua.

“After high school I worked in the office of the chief economist Attending international tourism in the ministry of conferences is all part of the job economic planning. This was in the transition time in 1995. Whilst Then I went to USP to get my I was only just a school leaver degree in Suva: “I learned a lot it was an amazing time to be in about South Pacific cultures at the Government. USP”. “The transition was from a public sector economy to a private sector economy.

“Political reform is an important issue for me. Prior to 1996 we were a public service based economy. Most people

Metua’s first job out of university was as purchasing officer with The Rarotongan Resort, but he quickly moved from the private sector into Government.

“I was a Government auditor. It

was during this time that I got involved in politics. I was part of an organisation called the Group for Political Change. Through petitions and the like we got political reforms through Parliament. We got rid of the overseas seat in parliament; we also got them to reduce the parliamentary term from five to four years. And, we changed the superannuation scheme for parliamentarians. “In 2003 I became a legal rights training officer for Punanga Tauturu, an NGO providing counselling. I trained to give legal advice, but I wasn’t a lawyer, I was an advocate around the Cook Islands teaching people about the constitution, voting rights and responsibilities, political reform and how politics works.”

“Around that time, I moved from Group for Political Change to a political party. I had seen the frustrations from trying to change the political system from the outside – I wanted to get in on the inside! I joined to Cook Islands Party in 2004 and participated in the 2004 elections. We were successful in getting into government. That year I started working for the Hon. Tom Marsters the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Transport, Youth & Sport as the CEO for his office”. Tom Marsters is the now Queens Representative for the Cook Islands.

“Then I took a break and worked for myself. I ran a DVD store, a market stall; I worked part-time for Air New Zealand. I decided to do an MBA. A lot of my case studies were Air New Zealand and tourism based.

“During my MBA studies I came across the idea of using marketing – putting good branding and messaging together - on top to engage the

community into tourism.

“When I finished my MBA I didn’t get a job for a year. I waited for something that I knew I could use my skills and education to positive effects. When the Destination Development job came up, I knew!

“In 2010 the newly created position in the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation was advertised. It covered product development, event management, strategic planning, management and information, developing infrastructure, safety and awareness, and it was filling in those other areas that have always been considered ancillary services or amenities that are good to have. “When I first took up the job, I identified quickly that there was a disconnect between the community, businesses and the tourism industry.

“Wandering dogs for example is a soft infrastructure issue. We partner with SPCA, the Police and Esther Honey in a dog control strategy. I am also on the Road Safety Council.

“Never before have we faced the challenges around the inadequacies of our infrastructure like we do now because of the growth of the tourism industry. Destination Development contributes to all government infrastructure projects and plans, that’s part of my job. I am on the National Infrastructure Committee.” “Human resources are another challenge we have. It’s part of

Air Rarotonga is a key partner in tourism development

“Fixing the disconnect is about getting everybody to understand why it is important to the Cook Islands economy for people in the service sector to be nice to all customers, local and visitors, because the country relies on tourism so much.

A1 Meitaki and Kia Orana spirit are catchy phrases to help close that disconnect.

Metua said Events is a key platform for Destination Development: “We invest in events that bring in incremental visitors such as Vaka Eiva in Rarotonga and Motu2Motu in Aitutaki. “With our infrastructure program we don’t just focus on the paid experiences, we also have to manage the free experiences like the scenery, and providing information about local sites. Plus information for the local people to understand the benefits of tourism – that is what the Kia Orana Values program is all about. We have to look at both the hard infrastructure and the soft infrastructure.

the infrastructure – we support customer service programs in the public and private sector. We call it the Kia Orana Customer Service Program.

“Our aim is to encourage the improvement of customer service to visitors across tourism. The Program is also offered to businesses that are not often considered part of the tourism industry.

CITC (Cook Islands Trading Corporation) operates supermarkets, a department store and liquor store, a 24hr petrol station/store, a pharmacy and airport duty free shops. “We have taken every staff member at CITC through the Kia Orana Values Program, with a focus on customer service”. On the inbound development side, Cook Islands Tourism belongs to the South Pacific Cruise Alliance attracting passenger ships to South

One of Metua’s achievements has been the introduction in 2016 of the A1 Meitaki Awards that recognise excellence in customer service, nominated by visitors to the Cook Islands. On World Tourism Day last September, Metua presented dozens of A1 Meitaki Award certificates to tourism operators in the first-ever A1 Meitaki Awards ceremony. “The A1 Meitaki Awards are a great way in which we can find out from visitors if the work we are doing is having an effect or not. “I’d like to see these awards grow into more than just a tourism award. I’d like to see Police, Immigration, and hospital staff nominated too for their excellence in customer service! “I have seen A1 Meitaki certificates proudly displayed around the island. Our acknowledgement for excellence service is the reward!

“Research and statistics underpins everything that we do. For example, economic studies on the impact of investment in events is a requirement for the level of support that we give. We require reports, people counts, where they came from, and we want feedback from the people who attended. Same thing for Cook Islands Tourism, we look at investments in infrastructure and can give government an idea on the return on investment from issues related to things like visitor cruise ships and airport development, and the potential for growth in critical areas”. “All the best plans are those informed with the best information”.

Metua concluded that all stakeholders must be strongly involved in the planning of the future tourism industry government, community and tourism operators.

“We want the people of the Cook Islands to talk about ‘our tourism industry’, instead of ‘the tourism industry.”




Lesley & Temu Okotai Harbour House, Avatiu, ph 20 635 email:

Grading Guide to Cook Islands Black Pearls This information is a guide for visitors who want to buy a Cook Islands pearl. The criteria and standards are endorsed by the Cook Islands Pearl Authority to promote uniformity and consistency in the classification and grading of Cook Islands cultured pearls. These represent minimum standards and thresholds for each grade. A higher grading standard may be applied by a retailer or pearl grader.

Visual Grade Perfect

Surface Quality Surface is free from any blemish, ordefect visible to the naked eye.

Lustre Excellent


Over 90% of the surface has no blemishes or defects; 10% or less of the surface has one or two slight blemishes (confined within one segment on the surface of the pearl).

High to excellent


70% or more of surface is free of blemishes or defects; 30% or less of the surface has slight blemishes (within area of segment).

At least Average or better


50% or more of surface is free of blemishes or defects; 50% or less of the surface has slight

At least Average or better


30% or more of surface is free of blemishes or defects; 70% or less of the surface has blemishes, with up to 30% deeper blemishes (within area of segments).

Dull or better

No side is free of blemishes, or defects; over 30% of surface has deep blemishes

Dull or better

Low grade pearl

What is Lustre? Surface quality and lustre are very critical factors in determining a pearl’s grade. However lustre is what separates the inferior pearl from the superior and the ordinary from the extraordinary. For example if the surface quality is an “A” category but with a “dull” lustre, the pearl would be graded down to a D.

What are the categories for lustre? Excellent

Exceptional shine; mirror-like and sharp reflection


Less shine than ‘excellent’ but reflection is well defined


Shine and reflection are average


Very little shine or reflection; appears chalky, milky or dull.

Enquiries to COOK ISLANDS PEARL AUTHORITY, PO Box 153, Rarotonga | T 29 055 | F 29 045 | E

Pearls for Pandora Carved Pearls Shell and Bone Jewellery

OPENING HOURS Monday-Friday, 9am-2pm Tokerau Jim’s shop at Matavera - main road on eastern-side before Muri Beach

Saturday morning, 8am-12pm Tokerau Jim’s shop at Punanga Nui Market in Avarua, with pearl carving demonstrations and free name engraving.


I sland L ife

Aunty Nane,

the personification of Kia Orana Values Cook Islands Tourism launched its Kia Orana Values program in June 2015 to encourage the people of the Cook Islands to celebrate the values of their beautiful culture, especially when presenting the Kia Orana Spirit to visitors. Kia Orana Ambassadors Nane Papa and Lydia Nga have been on the front line since then, showcasing the Kia Orana Values through their energetic presentations in Rarotonga and Aitutaki. And their enthusiasm never fails them!

Spreading the Kia Orana spirit Let’s meet one of those tireless Kia Orana Ambassadors, Nane Teokotai Vainepoto Papa, known to many simply as Aunty Nane. Born in Rarotonga, most of Nane’s schooling was in Rarotonga: “But, I finished off my education in Wellington, NZ, where I spent 17 years,” said Nane. “I returned to the Cook Islands twenty years ago, mainly for my mum and dad as they were getting older.” Nane began work as a receptionist at the Rarotongan Beach Resort but didn’t enjoy the reception work so much, so applied for transfer to the restaurant and bar. “I preferred the more relaxed time to move on.” “I went to the Royale Takitumu; Peter Heays was the manager at the time. I was a jack-of-all-trades there. I did the rooms, the grounds work and office work. I loved that!” said Nane. “Lydia and I became Kia Orana ambassadors a year ago.” Since then the Kia Orana ambassadors have dedicated their time and effort to spreading the Kia Oran Spirit throughout the Cook Islands.

Kia Orana Ambassadors have also presented at many government and quasi government departments. “We always get a positive reaction because Kia orana is our identity, and it has values that more and more people are understanding and appreciating.” “We want our visitors to leave with happy memories and a high possibility of returning or recommending our little paradise to their family and friends.” It is not surprising that Aunty Nane was nominated for the first-ever A1 Meitaki Awards that acknowledge outstanding and excellent customer service.

“I use the Kia Orana values in my daily life,” said Nane “I love the Kia Orana program with Aunty Lydia and I love doing the Kia Orana presentations.” “It has really opened a lot of people’s minds. One young man from Bluesky thanked me because he had never before really understood the values behind Kia Orana. He said he is now more proud to be a Cook Islander.” Nane and Lydia have also presented to the likes of

“I love every single moment of working for Cook Islands Tourism!”

CITC (Cook Islands Trading Corporation) who operate supermarkets, a department store and liquor store, a 24hr petrol station/store, a pharmacy and airport duty free shops. “We did nineteen sessions with 12-16 people in each session. Just about everybody in the whole company.” Nane said she often asks participants ‘why do you wear a uniform? “Some said it was because they had to, others rightly mentioned identity. I remind them that Kia Orana is our Cook Islands identity – it tells the entire world where we are from, Kia Orana Ambassadors Nane Papa and Lydia Nga also star in Cook Islands and that we are Tourism advertising proud of it!”

Aunty Nane welcome guests to the A1 Meitaki Awards ceremony

The A1 Meitaki Award Presentations last September were made at Maire Nui Park in Avarua in the presence of other award recipients, business and government representatives. “I was so nervous. I was asked to do a speech on behalf of all the A1 Meitaki Award winners.” Nane brought the audience to laughter talking about some of her Kia Orana experiences in the Cook Islands and New Zealand. Nane concluded: “Kia orana values are here to stay!”

We want our visitors to leave with happy memories

Pacific Weave

- a unique cultural shopping experience Russian-born Rarotonga entrepreneur Tatiana Burn opened a new store in 2016 showcasing the art of weaving from around the Pacific, aptly named Pacific Weave.


e have many special creations from around the Pacific baskets, platters, home decorations, carvings, tapa, mother-of-pearl and woven adornments. All items are hand made by gifted artisans from many island countries including the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Fiji and, of course, our beautiful Cook Islands,” said Tatiana. “A young Cook Islands weaver, Nanave, is making her weaving creations in store. You can join her every day for a lesson in traditional weaving. Learn a new skill and have a unique cultural experience”. Pacific Weave is located next to the

Perfumes of Rarotonga factory in Panama - just before Rarotonga Airport. Look for a marae entrance with a large Tangaroa looking down on you.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.00am-4.30pm, Saturday 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel. 27535. Tours welcome.

Pearl & Art Gallery




Simple Elegance & Timeless Beauty

Local Art by: Judith KunzLe - Limited edition Prints • ALLAn tuArA - traditional Carving •

Located UPTOWN Avarua, Taputapuatea • ph (682) 22312 •




I sland L ife

Marisa Newman

Meet Air New Zealand’s New Cook Islands Manager

What is your business background, particularly with Air New Zealand?

I have been with Air New Zealand for 21 amazing years, starting as a regional flight attendant with Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson based in New Plymouth before moving to the big smoke of Wellington to fly on the airline’s bigger jet aircraft. When I got the travel bug, I became an international flight attendant. It was an amazing experience to travel all around the world during my three years in that role. After meeting my partner David, it was time to pack away my suitcase and I spent the next ten years in a leadership role, which involved training new flight attendants. Over that time we had our three beautiful children. In 2014 I became a cabin crew manager, which meant I oversaw the Wellington cabin crew base of 110 people until my appointment to the role of Cook Islands Manager in September 2016. I am truly thankful to be given the opportunity to now live in the Cook Islands with my family and work with the high performing Rarotonga team.

How did you react to being offered the Manager Cook Islands position and how long is you posting? I had tears of joy when I received the phone call offering me the role of Cook Islands Manager, as it has always been a dream for our family to be able to live and work in a different country. I feel truly blessed that my children are able to attend school in the Cook Islands and for our family to become immersed in the local community and culture.

How do members of your family feel about the move to the Cooks? Since my children have been able to walk, they have always preferred to play outside or in the water so they’re delighted to be able to do that in Rarotonga. My children are also looking

forward to making new friends and David and I are enjoying the relaxed island lifestyle, fresh fruit and vegetables, the warmth – but most of all the friendly locals.

What are the opportunities ahead for Air New Zealand in the Cooks for the near future? The team of 56 Air New Zealanders I work with are committed to delivering a world-class customer experience for locals and all visitors to our little paradise. It’s an exciting time for our team as we have been delivering excellent results when it comes to not only customer satisfaction but on time performance and staff engagement. As a result of this, some members of our local team have been travelling to share their expertise with other ports, such as Air New Zealand’s latest destination – Vietnam. As country manager I also want to continue to support sustainable tourism growth.

the moon at being recognised around the globe in 2016 for their inimitable style and high standard of service.

In the World’s Luxury Hotel Awards, Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa was the country winner in the Luxury Villa Resort Category; and at

your tropical e-tuk experience

l e! T r av e l is l a n d-s t y

✱ 1 00% electric & the most fun you’ll ever have on 3 wheels! ✱ Personalised island tours ✱ Cocktail & happy-hour hopping ✱ Wedding limo service ✱ Airport transfers ✱ Dinner and market transfers

Call 28 687 or 53 686

Email •

You have been in the Cooks only a short time, but what are your first impressions of the Cooks and its potential as a tourism destination? One of the biggest draw cards to the Cook Islands is definitely its friendly people. Rarotonga is also clean and tidy and everywhere you look appears to be from a postcard! The islands already attract huge numbers from New Zealand every year and I would like to see more tourists from around the globe come to our shores. I see the global visitor looking to the Cook Islands for an ecotourism holiday – arriving on a modern, fuel efficient aircraft, staying in accommodation that meets sustainable environmental practices and having adventures, which show the Kia Orana spirit – such as watching the sunset, watching whales from the beach, eating local produce, dining at our many restaurants and bars and meeting our amazing locals.

Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa a global winner in 2016 elinda and Andrew Griffin, the B management owners of Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa in Muri, are over

Tik-e tours


the Seven Stars Luxury and Lifestyle Awards, Rumours Waterfall Spa was the recipient of the ‘Signum Virtutis’ – the Seal of Excellence. To top off the year, Belinda and Andrew travelled to London to attend the The World’s Finest Boutique Hotels Awards ceremony at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, where Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa was presented with Australasia’s Best Honeymoon Hideaway Award and Best Beach and Coastal Retreat Award. Attending the ceremony were travel and lifestyle media from around of the world including CNN Travel, Elite Traveler, and The Financial Times. For more information contact Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa, or +682 22551.

THE Multi Award Winning ★★★★★


M A I N R O A D, M U R I B E A C H , R A R O T O N G A + 6 8 2 2 2 5 51 info@r umour s-r w w w. r u m o u r s - r a r o t o n g a .co m




Tips for a Beach Wedding

in Rarotonga

Ina and Brynn loved their sunset beach wedding.

rynn Acheson, a native of Montana USA, and Ina B Nooroa, a local Cook Islander first met in 2010 when Brynn took a job at a The Rarotonga Resort &

Spa. They literally met on Brynn's first day on the island. After a six-year courtship they decided to unify their lives with a sunset beach ceremony. Their entire relationship is based around the beach and being outdoors. Brynn taught Ina how to kite-surf and this newfound passion for him blossomed into forming the company KiteSUP Watersports Cook Islands they co-own and operate together, based in Muri. It was an easy decision for them to have a beach wedding where they could share their love for each other and their love of the ocean and nature. Is there a ‘best time of year’ to get married on Rarotonga?

How do you go about arranging to get married on the beach?

The bride and bridesmaids arrived in an electric tuk tuk. (above) The wedding dance on the beach. (below)

private section for our white tent reception.

It's a tropical island and I thought because we live here the seasons are hot/dry and it would be easier to organise, humid/wet, I would say just but I'm really grateful we What determines the go with what works for you. decided to get a wedding cost of getting married From personal experience, planner. No matter how on the beach? even if you choose a ‘dry’ small or large your wedding, The great thing about a month, be prepared with there are still many details to tropical environment is the Plan B. It rained all day, and consider. We wanted to get natural beauty and sideways, on our day decor so you don't in June, but we got our need to go overboard sunset in the end. Also, with decorations. the dry months JuneThe easiest option August typically have is to book a package less flower and fruit deal with a hotel or options in season so if wedding planning you are set on having company, as they will amazing tropical flower include all the details arrangements and at various prices exotic fruit platters you depending on how may want to consider involved you want February-May. You can your ceremony to be. also get better room If your ceremony is rates in the shouldershort and sweet you Barefoot and sandals, perfect for a beach wedding. season months. can get away with a simple standing ceremony What are the married at sunset and we had with just a few chairs for the perfect west side beach ‘essentials' about the older guests or guests picked out and an amazing getting married in the of honor. You will need a

Cook Islands?

If you are choosing a wedding package with a hotel they will organise all the little details for you, which really helps take all the stress away. Otherwise there are plenty of independent wedding planners that will take care of that for you. Be sure to bring a copy of your birth certificate, as this is mandatory for getting your marriage certificate.

Why did you decide to get married on the beach? We both love nature, the sea, and sand between our toes. For us, getting married on the beach was an easy mutual decision. I wanted to be barefoot and comfortable on our wedding day.

celebrant, marriage certificate, and maybe a solo artist providing some nice music as you walk down the beach.

What is your recommendation to those wanting to get married on the beach in Rarotonga?



e2 3 0 0 0 to b o o k

beachclubhotel i r u .com w.m w w

Think a lot about the time of year, time of day, and what is in season. Consider your attire very wisely and what to tell your guests to wear. Heels in the sand really don't work and suits and ties usually are best left at home. After all, if you want a beach wedding you are normally looking for more of a non-traditional setup. Go with a local hair and make up artist. They know what products work best for the climate to make sure you and your wedding party are glowing and not melting on the big day.

where nature meets science





D ining and E ntertainment

Celebrity Chef Tony Bullivant anchors himself to Rarotonga Private chef to the NZ Consulate General in New York at 21 and caterer for the stars in his mid thirties, today Tony Bullivant is a well-established restaurateur and foodie in the Cook Islands


ver a forty-year career Tony Bullivant has made a name for himself as a chef in New Zealand, Australia, North America, and the South Pacific, sometimes in the service of global entertainment greats including the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Rod Stewart CBE, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and the late David Bowie.

“Big name entertainers visiting Auckland were often put up there,” said Tony. “I was house caterer for the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, and often their children. We also did catering for the Prime Minister and the New Zealand Government. On one occasion Hillary Clinton was a guest of the Prime Minister; that was really cool because she came into the kitchen.

It all started in a little bakery forty-five minutes north of New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.

Personally, my favourite food dish is fish, perhaps tuna or mahi mahi. I’m probably the easiest person to please – uncomplicated, fresh, grilled. “I had a happy childhood with my brother and a sister, though I lost an elder brother at an early age, when I was nine”. Tony’s mother was a seamstress working from home, who also worked at the bakery; his father, a chauffeur for the New Zealand Government. “Mum got me on to the apprentice chef thing at the St George Hotel in Wellington. Education didn’t seem to matter in those days – if you got into something and enjoyed it, well that was it! I loved working with food”. During Tony’s apprenticeship, Jack Cooper was the hotel manager. Jack went on to develop and run the Cook Islands ‘institution’ known as Traders Jacks Bar & Restaurant on the waterfront

“I had bought a café, then picked up the contract for catering for Kiwi Rail supplying the food from Auckland to Wellington. They just approached me and said asked if we could deliver 500 sandwiches a day. The business built up from then over five years”. It was during this time that Tony earned his moniker ‘celebrity chef ’, when he also began catering for the ‘rich and famous’ at Auckland’s elite Waimanu homestead in Herne Bay - one of New Zealand's most expensive houses, once owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

According to Tony, the road that led him to settle in Rarotonga twenty years ago has been a lively and enjoyable one.

“At 14, I worked in a bakery before school. I did a lot of surfing. We lived in Titahi Bay, which has a pretty good surf beach. We lived at one end of the beach and the bakery was at the other end. So I’d trot along to work at 4.30am, make pies and sausage rolls; then get on the bus and go to school. I didn’t like school and it didn’t like me, so I left at 15 and became an apprentice chef at the St George Hotel in Wellington,” Tony said.

Auckland known as: ‘Food for Thought’.

In 1993, New Idea featured ‘celebrity chef, Tony Bullivant

at Avarua Harbour, on Rarotonga. “Jack was a pretty good boss. We got along and we kept in touch. That’s why I eventually came to Raro,” said Tony. “But, straight out of my apprenticeship, I moved to Australia - like every good Kiwi kid! I started in Sydney then worked in Wollongong for two and half years – I met some really good people. I also worked in Brisbane, then Perth - I was in Australia for six years.” At that time, Tony’s father drove for the manager of the Bank of New Zealand, which was still government owned at that time. The manager, Bruce Smith, was promoted to New Zealand Consulate General in New York and he was looking for a chef. “He knew through dad that I had done my apprenticeship and had six years experience in Australia. So at age 21, I was living and working in New York, which was awesome! It was a three-year contract as the Consulate General’s private chef cooking for guests the likes of former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. “I had an opportunity to go to South America with the Government, but the work wasn’t really challenging enough for me, so I bailed out after two years and headed back to Australia after dropping in to see mum and dad in NZ. That was in 1987 when the America’s Cup was on. I got a job straight away in

Fremantle.” Following his stint in Fremantle, Tony headed back to NZ and took up skiing with a passion! For three seasons he worked as a cook to feed his ‘skiing bug’, moving seasonally between the ski fields of New Zealand and Canada (Calgary). “I was working around getting lots of experience in those days”. Tony returned to work in Auckland for a while before moving to Fiji as executive chef for a management company that ran three hotels. On his return to NZ, Tony set up his own catering company in

Tony Bullivant setting the menu at the Anchorage Restaurant

Cooper’s kitchen partner) who had had dengue fever. On this occasion Tony came to Rarotonga for six months but never went back, except to sell his catering business in Auckland. He worked for Trader Jacks for six years, when decided it was time to become independent again so opened Salsa Café in Avarua featuring his ‘Pacific fusion’ cuisine, where ‘international dishes get a new

“One very special stay for me was that of the McCartneys: Paul, Linda and their children Heather, Mary and James. Paul and Linda would walk around in board shorts. We’d have drinks and talk with The Anchorage Restaurant & Bar, Arorangi them. Because Linda was a vegetarian, she was in the kitchen every day!” twist!” Tony sold the business after seven years, then took Whilst life then was exciting, twelve months off before Tony decided to take a buying the Paw Paw Patch at little time off and moved to the Moana Sands Beachfront Rarotonga to work for a while Hotel in Titikaveka, renaming at Traders Jacks. He had it the Sands Restaurant & Bar worked there once before to - that too was eventually sold. relieve Chris Douglas (Jack

Today, Tony leases the Anchorage Restaurant and Bar at the Sunset Resort in Arorangi, still specialising in creative, Pacific Rim cuisine. The popular openair, undercover restaurant is set among tropical gardens adjacent the resort's pool. It is open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Personally, my favourite food dish is fish, perhaps tuna or mahi mahi. I’m probably the easiest person to please – uncomplicated, fresh, grilled.” Tony is married to Kelly a New Zealander with a degree in psychology and currently senior charge nurse, surgical ward at Rarotonga Hospital. They have three daughters. “I love the ocean: I am a paddle-boarder, a snorkeler, a diver and a fisherman. “I’ve been here now for over twenty years; it’s a friendly place, you know everyone, the climate is good, and it’s not that far from New Zealand.”

Beetroot Cured Yellow Fin Tuna A Tony Bullivant Recipe 800g fresh yellow fin tuna 2 large beetroot peeled and grated Zest of 2 lemons 5 tablespoons rock salt 5 tablespoons demerara sugar 60ml gin Small bunch fresh dill roughly chopped 1-tablespoon fennel seeds Method: In a large bowl rub tuna fillets with all ingredients wrap tightly in glad wrap and chill for 48 hours turning occasionally. Gently rinse off cure, tuna is now ready to slice and serve.


D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T


Highland Paradise Rarotonga’s most Authentic Cultural Experience Located high in the mountains overlooking the lagoon Join us and experience the magnificence and beauty of real Cook Island singing, dancing and drumming

Island Night dinner & show: 5pm – Monday, Wednesday & Friday Includes – transfers, welcome cocktail, tapu lifting ceremony, Buffet umu style dinner, and finally the magnificent singing, dancing & drumming. .


Inspired by traditional, scientifically-proven, Cook Islands regenerative medicines

A key ingredient in the TeTika® Skincare range, Bioactive Cook Islands Oils are the result of intense research into the traditional Cook Islands medicinal practices. These remarkable oils have a rejuvenating effect on the epidermis of the skin.




















See the full range of the TeTika® Skincare products at CITC Pharmacy in Avarua.





D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T

ISLAND NIGHT SHOWS ON RAROTONGA They are colourful, energetic and entertaining and, combined with a buffet-style feast, they are good value for money. Enquire about the different Island Nights on offer; some are smaller, intimate shows, others larger, spectacular shows with bigger audiences. Always book to avoid disappointment. Note: details are correct at time of publication, but may change seasonally. Always check with venue.

VENUE & SHOW DETAILS DAY MONDAY Highland Paradise Cultural Centre TUESDAY Te Vara Nui Village The Islander Hotel The Edgewater Resort & Spa WEDNESDAY Highland Paradise Cultural Centre Muri Beach Club Hotel THURSDAY Te Vara Nui Village Crown Beach Resort FRIDAY Highland Paradise Cultural Centre SATURDAY Te Vara Nui Village The Edgewater Resort & Spa




21 924

$99 adult / $55 child (U-11). Includes transfers.

7.30pm/8.30pm 7.00pm/8.00pm 7.00pm/8.30pm

24 006 21 003 25 435

$99 adult / $45 child (U-12) $49 adult / $20 child (6-12). Show only $15/$15 $65 adult / $25 child (7-12). Includes transfers.

PERFORMERS Crown Beach Resort: Akirata Dance Troupe & Fire Dance

The Edgewater Resort & Spa:

7.00pm/8.00pm 7.00pm/8.00pm

21 924 23 000

$99 adult / $55 child (U-11). Includes transfers. $59 adult (18 + only)

7.30pm/8.30pm 6.30pm/8.30pm

24 006 23 953

$99 adult / $45 child (U-12) $55 adult / $30 child (3-12). Show only $15/$15

Ta’akoka Dance Troupe

Highland Paradise Cultural Centre: Home of the Tinomona Tribe; E Matike Dance Troupe

Muri Beach Club Hotel: Akirata Dance Troupe

The Islander Hotel:


21 924

$99 adult / $55 child (U-11). Includes transfers.

7.30pm/8.30pm 7.00pm/8.30pm

24 006 25 435

$99 adult / $45 child (U-12) $65 adult / $25 child (7-12). Includes transfers.

Akirata Dance Troupe

Te Vara Nui Village: The Legend of Tongaiti. *Supreme Award Winner at the 2016-7 Air New Zealand Cook Islands Tourism Awards

Matutu – the taste of the Cook Islands. Started in 2006 100% locally owned

Amazing beers Made using sustainable practices

No added preservatives All natural ingredients

Handcrafted by E. Newnham & J. Puati

Tours Daily at 12pm and 1pm. Tour only $10. Transport & Tour $15. Free beer tasting on tour. Visit us in Tikioki, Titikaveka. Telephone. 26288. Email.


D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T








G u id e to

Eating&Drinking IN RAROTONGA

There is an eclectic variety of dining and bar experiences in Rarotonga, many on the waterfront, beachfront and in picturesque settings. In the following pages you will discover a wonderful variety of cafés, restaurants and bars to enjoy around the island.



1 20 22 13 14 3


25 9 27

4 32 5























18 11 MURI 15 16 31


28 30 12

VENUE DETAILS IN FOLLOWING PAGES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Alberto’s Restaurant Anchorage Restaurant & Bar On the Beach (OTB) Restaurant & Bar The Café Café Salsa Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill@The Rarotongan Crusoe’s Restaurant & Wilson’s Bar Coco Putt Bistro & Bar Islander Restaurant & Hula Bar Kikau Hut Restaurant La Casita Café Little Polynesian Café Flambé Restaurant Oceans Restaurant & Bar The Rickshaw Café Sails Restaurant & iSOBAR BlueWater Grill@Sanctuary Rarotonga Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar Spaghetti Pizzeria & Grill Tamarind House Restaurant The Tumunu Restaurant & Bar Vaima on the Beach The Waterline Restaurant & Bar Café Jireh The Yellow Hibiscus Restaurant Le Rendez-Vous Café & Bistro Saltwater Café Whale & Wildlife Café Deli-Licious Café Charlie’s Café & Beach Hire Bond Liquor Store



D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T


G u id



Alberto’s Restaurant Located between the Edgewater and Sunset resorts on the main road in Arorangi. Alberto’s is well known for their steak dishes but also offer seafood, chicken, pork, pasta and a fresh salad bar. Small private functions catered for. Open Monday to Saturday. The bar opens at 5.30pm with dining between 6.00 – 9.00pm.

BlueWater Grill@Sanctuary Rarotonga-on the beach

Bond Liquor Store

Café Jireh

Situated on the main road opposite the Punanga Nui Market in Avarua, the Bond Liquor Store is the No1. cellars in the Cook Islands, offering a huge range: over 600 wines, all popular spirits, liqueurs, imported & local beers, RTDs, mixers, ice and soft drinks. Open Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm, FridaySaturday 9am-7pm. Weddings & special occasions catered for. Delivery anywhere on Rarotonga.

Opposite the Airport, we’re world famous for our coffee and custard squares. Everything is freshly prepared including a huge variety of cakes, slices, pies, sausage rolls and sandwiches, plus cooked meals from bacon & eggs and eggs benedict to island pancakes, ‘Caveman’ and ‘Mega Angus’ burgers. Monday - Friday 7.00am - 3.00pm; Saturday 8.30am - 1.30pm.

T: 21 007 • E:

T: 24 776

T: 23 597 or 55 725 E:

Casual gourmet dining for age16+, 7days. Dine on fresh Pacific cuisine with your toes in the sand @ BlueWater Grill or Poolside Pavilion. Seafood Platters. Nightly dinner specials. Cocktails, wines, cold beers. Swim-up bar (in-house guests only). Regular live music. Virtual tours online. T: 25900 E:

Crusoe’s Restaurant & Bar

Deli-Licious Café

Flambé Restaurant

Islander Restaurant & Hula Bar

By the pool or the lagoon at Castaway Resort, Crusoe’s Restaurant & Bar have a themed menu every night. Monday – Pasta night, Tuesday – a la carte, Wednesday – Mexican, Thursday – Pizza, Friday – Seafood, Saturday – Curry, Sunday – BBQ. Happy Hour 2pm-6pm, restaurant from 6.00pm.

Located on the main road in Muri, check out our ‘all-day’ breakfast menu and join us for awesome coffee, friendly service and great home-style cooking. Try our custard square and cheesecakelocal favourites. Open Sunday-Friday 7.30am3.00pm. Wi-Fi available.

Rarotonga’s newest, ‘maverick’ culinary experience. An exciting menu focused on the legend of the demi-god Maui and the origins of fire to the Cook Islands. Exudes ambiance and style. Alfresco dining and bar, plus air-conditioned inside dining. Open for dinner only. Fire Dance Show every Friday and Saturday night. Closed Sunday and Monday. Patrons 16 years and over please.

The Islander Hotel and Hula Bar overlook both the pool and the ocean, offering a wide variety of cuisine made from fresh ingredients supplied locally, as well as imports from New Zealand. Open for breakfast from 8.00am, with an all-day lunch and dinner service featuring light meals to hearty options. (See ad on page 15)

T: 21 546 E:

Oceans Restaurant Relaxed private dining on the waterfront with vistas of the beach, lagoon and sunsets, Oceans Restaurant & Bar offers all-day dining including breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Breakfast from 8.00am-10.30am, lunch from 11.30am - 2.30pm, and dinner from 6.30pm 9.00pm. Happy hour is daily from 4.30pm - 6.30pm. T: 23 953 E:

Tamarind House Tamarind House Restaurant & Bar is located in a restored colonial house set on 2.5 acres of lawns adjacent to the beach. Opening hours are Monday to Friday - morning coffee from 10.00am, Thursday to Friday, lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm, Monday to Saturday - dinner from 6.00pm. Closed on Saturday during the day. Weddings are a speciality. T: 26 487 • E:

T: 20 858 Check us out on Facebook

On the Beach (OTB) Bar & Restaurant Beachfront dining OTB at the Manuia Beach Resort is enhanced by the restaurant’s Cook Islands-style sandy floor, kikau-thatched roof and Polynesian-inspired menu. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, OTB also features daily happy hour, Sunday night BBQ Buffet, and live music Sunday and Wednesday. T: 22 461 • E:

The Anchorage Restaurant & Bar

T: 23 953 (Crown Beach Resort) E: •

T: 21 003 • E:

Rickshaw Café

Sails Restaurant & iSOBAR

Located on the main road in Muri village, The Rickshaw Café is a casual Asian streetstyle café that serves Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Malaysian and Thai cuisine. Bookings recommended.

Offering modern Pacific cuisine & epic views over Muri Lagoon, enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner & innovative bar snacks. iSobar beach bar happy hour cocktails, Matutu craft beer on tap, and live music Weds and Fri nights. Day and night entertainment on and off the water at Sails. Private venue for parties/weddings. Cook Island Tourism Award winner 2016. Open 7 days from 9am til late. T: 27 349 • E:

T: 22 232 or 75 449 E:

The Café

Located at the Sunset Resort in Arorangi, The Anchorage Restaurant & Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Happy Hour is daily from 4pm in the lounge bar, and live music is performed on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings.

The Café is located in the courtyard of the historic Beachcomber Pearl Market & Art Gallery in Avarua, with sea views. Known for its locallyroasted expresso, iced coffees, homemade cakes, muffins, fresh foods, organic breads, bagel and croissants, The Café is open Monday - Friday 9.00am – 3.00pm, and Saturday 9.00am-1.00pm.

T: 23 004 E:

T: 21 283 E:

The Yellow Hibiscus Restaurant & Bar The Yellow Hibiscus is an open-air restaurant overlooking the garden at Palm Grove. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is served 8.00-10.00am, light lunch 12.00-2.00pm, and a la carte dining from 6.00pm Monday to Saturday, with live music on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Sunday there is a BBQ with live entertainment. T: 20 002 • E:


D I N I N G & E N T E R TA I N M E N T


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Café Salsa Popular bistro & meeting place. All-day breakfast and lunch. Serving a wide range of fresh ‘n’ healthy options as well as homemade breads and wood fired pizzas. Open 7.30am–3.00pm, Mon– Fri, 7.30am -2.00pm on Sat. Downtown Avarua, next to CITC Shopping Centre & Pharmacy. Punanga Nui Market within walking distance.

Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill @The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa Open all hours (almost!). 7 days. Lagoon views. All-day Dining, Cold Beers, Sunset Cocktails, Wines, Poolside Cabanas. Extensive Casual Menu – Burgers, Fish & Chips, Steaks, Salads, Pizzas, Club Sandwich, Sizzling Fajitas, Seafood Platter. Kids Menu, Special Diets.

Member of Cook Islands Restaurant Association Member of Cook Islands Tourism Industry Accreditation Scheme

Charlie’s Café & Beach Hire

Coco Putt Bistro & Bar

Located on Te Akapuao Beach, Titikaveka, we offer tasty light meals, lunch, coffee and drinks. And, we hire standup paddleboards, kayaks, snorkel, mask and fins. Spend the day with us at Te Akapuao Beach!

A 18-Hole Mini Golf course and café off the main road at Aro’a, Coco Putt is also a bistro and bar with Sky Sports, live entertainment & all-day menu. Open 10.00am until late. Golf prices – Adults $12 (includes a free standard drink), Children$5, Students $7, Family Pass $30 (2 adults/2 children).

T: 28 055 E:

T: 22 215 • E:

T: 25800 • E:

Kikau Hut Restaurant

La Casita Mexican Café

Le Rendez-Vous Café & Bistro

Little Polynesian Café

A fusion of European and Pacific flavours, the Kikau Hut, located in Arorangi, offers a top-rated friendly and casual dining experience. Open from 6pm seven days a week with live music on Mondays and a transfers available by prior arrangement.

Located on the main road at Muri village, this Mexican-style ‘street café’ serves a variety of dishes featuring fresh, authentic flavours including Mexican burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, pizzas, and a range of vegetarian options. Fully licensed. Bookings advised. Open Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm.

Located near Airport. Owners are French as is the cuisine. Freshly made food with local and imported French ingredients, freshly baked pies and pastries & savory French crepes amongst the dishes. Great coffee! The café is open for breakfast/lunch until 2pm, and the restaurant from 6pm. Also, Rarotonga’s first drive-through takeaway. Also open Sundays.

Located overlooking the pool with striking views of the lagoon within the stylish Little Polynesian Resort in Titikaveka is the Little Polynesian Café. Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Little Polynesian Café presents a mix of Island and Mediterranean cuisine accompanied by an expansive wine list and ‘tantalizing’ cocktails.

T: 20 693 E:

T: 26 121 • E:

T: 24 280 E:

Saltwater Café

Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar

Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar

Spaghetti House Pizzeria & Grill

Enjoy alfresco casual dining while admiring the stunning lagoon view at Titikaveka on Rarotonga’s south coast. Located opposite the beach at the ‘Halfway Mark’, Saltwater Café uses fresh local produce and is open for breakfast and lunch from 9.00am Sunday to Thursday. Relax and enjoy a Lavazza espresso coffee, an icy cold beer or cocktail.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, the Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar has live music and a theme each night: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - à la carte, Wednesday - Island Night, Friday - Pig & Prawn Night, and Sunday Night - BBQ Grill Night. Happy hour is everyday between 4.00pm-6.00pm. (See ad on page 11)

Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar at Aro’a Beachside Inn was voted ‘the 3rd best beach bar in the world’ in a list of 50 by CNN Travel in 2012. Situated on the sunset coast, the Bar offers a range of drinks and bar meals, with live music on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.

The Spaghetti House Pizzeria and Grill at The Edgewater Resort & Spa is conveniently located at the Resort’s entrance on the main road. Open seven nights from 5.00pm to 9.30pm, the airconditioned Spaghetti House Pizzeria and Grill offers authentic Italian cuisine with a selection of pizzas, pastas and other signature Italian dishes.

T: 20020 E:

T: 23 000 • E:

Tumunu Restaurant & Bar

Vaima on the Beach

Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar

Whale & Wildlife Centre Café

The oldest restaurant in Rarotonga (38 this year), Tumunu offers garden surroundings featuring local artifacts and memorabilia. With its tropical garden and unique dining room, the Tumunu menu offers seafood, vegetarian, steaks, chicken and a children’s menu. The seafood platter for two is a specialty. Open seven nights from 6.00pm. T: 20 501 • E:

Located in Vaimaanga, Vaima on the Beach offers indoor and outdoor dining options in an island setting, with the cuisine that has a touch of tropical flavours. Open 7 nights a week from 6pm, Vaima provide transfers to and from accommodation on request.

The Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar is situated on the sunset coast for relaxed beachside dining. Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner, diners have a choice of dining on the sand or on the deck looking over the beach. The Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar also caters for small weddings and functions.

Coffee, teas, cold drinks, quiche & salad, pizza bread, snacks, grilled & fresh sandwiches, muffins & coconut slices, and more, are served on an open air, undercover deck. Located on the Back Road, opposite Mike Tavioni Carvings, behind Avatiu Harbour. The café is open 10am4pm Sunday to Friday and most public holidays.

T: 22 161 • E:

T: 21 666 or 55 901 to, or 58 727 E:

T: 26 860 E:

T: 26 123 • E:

T: 22166 E:

T: +682 27 181 E: W:

T: 25 441




Rudy and Kanoe on the beach at their accommodation property, Tropical Sands

Rudy Aquino – master musician

Rudy Aquino, a Hawaiian musician

with an eye for the good life in the Cooks When Hawaiian-born, Rarotongabased, master musician Rudy Aquino was 15-years old he recalls facing the high school principal in his office on careers day. The principal looked him straight in the eye and asked: ‘what do you want to be?’ Rudy returned the look, and replied: ‘I want to be a musician.’ The principal’s unsmiling response: ‘You are a dreamer Rudy’.

dreamer I am, and “A I have fulfilled my dreams!” said Rudy. Born 75 years ago on the ‘big island’ of Hawaii in 1941, Rudy spent his early years with his grandparents whilst his parents lived in wartime Oahu. “I come from a family of eight brothers and sisters. My father, who came to Hawaii from the Philippines in 1922, was a stevedore. My Hawaiian-born mother was a nurse after the war.

Today Rudy plays various instruments that are useful in a Hawaiian-style band such as piano, xylophone, conga drums, and, of course, the ukulele. “My first job was at Kaiser Hawaiian Village in the garden bar with Bernie Hellman. I was 18 years old. I was working in the same hotel they filmed the TV detective series Hawaiian Eye in the late 50s early 60s.

After school in Oahu Rudy tried stevedoring for a year but gave up because he had the impulse to follow his dream be a professional musician.

With the Vietnam War and conscription on the horizon, Rudy and some of his musician friends chose to join the US Air Force Band.

“My family enjoyed singing and dancing at home, my brothers all played musical instruments. I never had any real music training, though I took some piano lessons at age of ten. I joined the school band then starting playing other instruments like the saxophone. At 15 picked up the vibraphone”.

“We joined the Air Force Band, which is the old Glenn Miller Band. We travelled a lot with the band and we performed publically and privately for the State Department, including at the White House for JFK, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, and many other big names of the time.”

When Rudy and his friends left the army he returned to Hawaii and formed a group called the Hawaiian Allis. Allis means chief, same as Ariki in Rarotongan Maori.

in Rudy and Kanoe moving to the Cooks.

Soon they joined Don Ho, one of Hawaii’s most popular entertainers, as Don Ho and the Allis, performing in Hawaii, on the US mainland, and also making television appearances. They were with Don Ho from 1964-69. “We started with Don at Hoplouie. We were called the Aliis, sometimes the fabulous Aliis. One time in California we were named as the swinging Allis and some people thought we were a circus act!” When the Allis left Don Ho they continues ‘on the circuit’ which included Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. We’d make our rounds and come back to Hawaii. We did this from 197079.

“Our life here is peaceful and happy because we have found the place we’d like to live on earth.”

Tropical Sands

“In 1980 I became a school music teacher for a few years in Kailua. It was a big adjustment. I had no experience teaching so I took a crash course in teaching from the University of Hawaii.” Rudy enjoyed teaching children, but it wasn’t enough for him so he returned to performing. “I went back with Don Ho in the Hawaiian Village Hotel Kaiser Dome.”

Younger Rudy pledging friendship bonds with the legends of Waikiki, Duke Kahanamoku and Don Ho

“I met Kanoe in 1990. Her birth name is Heidi. Her Hawaiian name is Kanoe Lani given to her by her Hawaiian Aunty - it means heavenly mist.

“Kanoe was a dancer with my band. She was the lead ‘hula’ dancer. We were in Maui for about 15 years. It was during this time we decided to move to the Cook Islands. “I met Jim Bruce, who introduced us to the Cook Islands. We moved in 2008 after visiting him many times, for long and short stays. Jim had bought the Aroa Beachside Inn.

In 1988, Rudy moved to Maui: “I worked with my own band at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel”.

“We sold everything in Hawaii and moved to Rarotonga, and moved straight into Tropical Sands, which was an established accommodation business.”

Two new friendships in Maui would change Rudy’s life: he met his future wife, Kanoe, and he met his ‘best buddy’ Jim Bruce, who was instrumental

Tropical Sands, located in Matevera on the east coast of Rarotonga, has four, selfcatering beach houses on the oceanfront.

Happily settled in Rarotonga, living on site at Tropical Sands, Rudy also keeps busy performing his style of music around the island. But he hasn’t forgotten his roots. “Kanoe and I have children and grandchildren from previous marriages. It’s the second time around for both of us. We go back for annual visits for a month. “My mother is still around. She is 97!” But Rarotonga is home! “Our life here is peaceful and happy because we have found the place we’d like to live on earth. The people are wonderful and there was not too much transition for us as far as the personality of people, they are about the same as Hawaiians. We found the Polynesians of Hawaii and the Cook Islands are closely related”. But in all the time Rudy and Kanoe have lived on Rarotonga they haven’t travelled as much as they would like: “We haven’t even been to New Zealand! “But first, we want to travel to the outer islands. Those places really intrigue me! In his spare time, Rudy likes to play golf and said the Rarotonga Golf Club is special. “The best golf course in the world only $150 a year! I play twice a week – early morning hours so nobody sees me! Just Jim Bruce and me; we go out there and hack around!” Rudy said he is here to stay: “It is a blessing each day that I walk in the sand of Rarotonga.”




Guillaume and Karine Kapfer on the waterfront at Avarua

“Bon Appétit” Young French couple Karine and Guillaume Kapfer are passionate about good food and good service; their innovative Rarotonga restaurant, Le Rendez-Vous Café and Bistro, will celebrate its first birthday in March reflecting their dream to offer locals and visitors the tastes of France in their new home in the Cook Islands.

he success of Le T Rendez-Vous Café and Bistro has been the result of personal dedication, and the unfaltering love of French cuisine. Today, many would say that a trip to Rarotonga is not complete without a breakfast, lunch or dinner at Le Rendez-Vous.

Karine and Guillaume first met in their home town of La Rochelle on the west coast of France ten years ago, but didn’t get together as a couple until five years ago, when they married and had Gabrielle, who is now three.

Karin was in real estate sales and Guillaume was sales director in a printing company. “We got together in January and I asked her to marry me in March,” said Guillaume. “After working in our jobs for over fifteen years we decided we wanted something different, especially for our daughter who was born in La Rochelle. “We travelled a lot together, including to Indonesia, Mexico and Scotland, looking

for that somewhere different, but it wasn’t until I came here body boarding that we decided the Cook Islands was for us.” Karine and Guillaume looked at various businesses in Rarotonga, including accommodation, but they didn’t want to put everything they had into one business. Then they found the Nu Bar business. “This was the right place for us. It wasn’t too big, so no big pressure!” They redesigned and renovated Nu Bar, and renamed it Le Rendez-Vous Café and Bistro.

OTB: Rarotonga’s best kept ‘dining’ secret! OTB is the newly established ‘on the beach bar & restaurant’ located at the Manuia Beach Resort in Arorangi on Rarotonga’s sunset coast. OTB is a well located islandstyle restaurant that delivers quality contemporary cuisine. It is the ideal setting for a poolside breakfast, leisurely lunch, cocktail hour, or an evening meal enjoyed in the gentle glow of a setting sun on a balmy tropical evening.

“Chef Phillip has an affinity for island food and skill to take these tropical tastes to new, exciting levels”.


seafood and dessert specials. Sunday is BBQ Night, where meat and vegetables are

TB (On-the-Beach Bar & Restaurant) chef and owner Phillip Nordt has added the ‘ degustation experience’ to the OTB menu offering eight, five, and three courses, which can be paired with recommended wines. All the dishes are gluten free and mostly lactose free.

OTB also features an all vegetarian degustation night every Tuesday, and a Seafood Masterclass every Friday night.

There is live entertainment four nights a week and Chef Phillip entertains with flambé OTB Restaurant & Bar

and, of course, our crêpes”. Recently Le Rendez-Vous launched a new menu. In the menu’s welcoming comments, Guillaume states: “The subtle beauty or preparing and enjoying good food have always been central to our lives back in France. Keeping it simple and fresh is the key. This is why our menu is short.”

Le Rendez-Vous Café and Bistro

Located on the main road adjacent to Rarotonga Airport, Le Rendez-Vous was transformed by Karine and Guillaume through redesign and renovation from what was a well-known venue called Nu Bar.


“We called it Le Rendezvous because it means ‘the gathering’; gathering with friends or if you are dating someone,” said Guillaume. “It has worked out because people come for breakfast and lunch meetings, and couples and families for come for lunch and dinner. “We are serious about the cooking. Our head chef is Marie Andrew from New Zealand. Everything is handmade and healthy. We make everything onsite except the vanilla ice cream! Everything is made here – the pasta, the bread, the pastries,

The new menu speaks for itself. In edition to a scrumptious selection of crêpes, Le Rendez-Vous offer a ‘snacks and flight bites’ and a ‘kids’ menu; but it’s the French-inspired, simple and tasty, ‘bistro menu’ that appeals: from Vegetarian Ratatouille Pasta, Beef Ragoût, Fish of the Day and The Steak, to the ‘Butcher’s Choice.’ The yummy desserts are predictably French in style and taste. Wines are from France and New Zealand, with French Champagne available by the glass or bottle. The main menu aside, if you are just passing Le RendezVous during the morning, drive in and try their delicious range of coffees and teas, and importantly try their wonderful pastries, made with a touch of France! T: (682) 26 121 lerendezvousrarotonga

Chef Phillip entertains with flambé seafood

grilled over an open fire-pit on the beach. The menu features daily fresh, fine island style dishes from tataki of goat, carpaccio of octopus, fresh sashimi, ceviche, braised duck and coconut dumplings, ballotine of wild chicken, NZ prime beef filet mignon, mango and buffalo mozzarella. OTB also offers variety of daily fresh game fish with interesting new interpretations, the desserts are fine tropical compositions of house made sorbets, ice creams, cassatas, pastries and sauces. Chef Phillip advocates using mainly local organic vegetables, fruits and herbs

getting his daily supplies from small farmers around Rarotonga and his plantation. Phillip resigned as head tutor of Culinary Arts at the Cook Islands Hospitality and Tourism Training Centre to focus on making the best bar, cuisine and service on Rarotonga. Phillip has a BA in Culinary Arts and is studying for his Masters. He trained his

award-winning Cook Island students for international culinary Arts competitions like Toque D’or and City and Guilds. Married to a Cook Islander for 25 years, Chef Phillip has an affinity for island food and skill to take these tropical tastes to new, exciting levels. Ph:22 461 manuiaotb




An orientation trip around Rarotonga 5 12 13

























The main road is just 32km around the island but there is much to discover on Rarotonga. To help you get your bearings, here are some of the key places of interest that await you. The numbering starts in the township of Avarua. 1. The Beachcomber building was built by the London Missionary Society in 1845 and virtually destroyed by a cyclone in 1968. Restoration was undertaken in 1992. The complex now contains an art gallery, retails shops and The Café. 2. The Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) was built in 1853. The grave of the first Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Albert Henry, is in the churchyard. Visitors are welcome to attend church services on Sunday. 3. The Para O Tane Palace was once the site of Taputapuatea marae, the largest and most sacred marae (meeting ground) on Rarotonga. Today, the building is a private residence. 4. Takamoa Theological College was the first European-style building in the Cooks. It was built by missionaries in the 1830s and extensively renovated in 2009. The College trains pastors and missionaries for the CICC.

5. Maitai Shipwreck is clearly visible offshore from town as the engine block rises out of the ocean. The RMS Maitai traded regularly between the Cooks and Tahiti before it ran aground in 1916. 6. Arai-Te-Tonga Marae is about two kilometres east of Avarua. A small sign points inland to the marae (meeting ground). These are important cultural sites and still used for traditional ceremonies. 7. Avana, the circle of seven stones beside the harbour at Avana commemorates the departure of a fleet of canoes to New Zealand around 1350AD. Each stone represents a canoe that completed the journey. 8. Muri Beach with its wide lagoon and picturesque motu (little islands) is scenic and safe for swimming, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, kite-surfing, windsurfing and beach activities. Muri has many shops, eating places and accommodation.

Maitai wreck

Wigmores Waterfall Black Rock beach

Muri Lagoon

9. The Fruits of Rarotonga is a popular snorkelling spot in Titikaveka. The best snorkelling is just west of the car park. Be aware of the reef passages, which can be dangerous. 10. Wigmore’s Waterfall (aka Papua Falls) isn’t signposted, but follow the little road inland beside the abandoned hotel at Vaimaanga. There is locally imposed toll for vehicles to use the road to the waterfall. 11. Black Rock just past the Golf Club is a good snorkeling spot. As the area is next to the airport, on most days you will have the startling experience of watching the low-flying approaches of airlines that serve Rarotonga International Airport. 12. Aviatu Harbour handles most of the country’s imports and exports. It is a pleasant area to walk around. Often in the afternoon after school children swim off the wharf, and most of the gaming fishing boats, visiting yachts and cargo ships are moored there. 13. The Punanga Nui Market on Saturday 8amlunchtime is ‘huge’ for fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, clothing and music, food and drinks and cultural performances. It is also open Monday to Friday 8am-4pm with limited outlets.




Things visitors might like to know about the flora and fauna of the Cook Islands A chat with Gerald McCormack

The coconut palm is considered by Cook Islanders as the ‘tree of life’



omeone had to start recording the plants and animals with their Maori, English and Latin names - a good challenge for a new science advisor.”

Gerald has been the lead researcher since then, and continues to contribute to, the Cook Islands Biodiversity Database: “Nowadays the database contains around 4500 plants and animals, including fish”. We asked Gerald what plants and animals a visitor might typically encounter. “Most will encounter the House Gecko. It’s a new gecko that arrived around 1990 and spread quickly. It is a loud gecko. Most geckos make little noise. This one is almost like a chirping bird. “None of the geckos or skinks found in the Cook Islands is indigenous”. Gerald pointed out that the Cook Islands do not have native mammals either, except for the fruit bat, which was originally native on Mangaia and has since spread: “Only people wandering up valleys in the evening will encounter a fruit bat or if you go to the Takituma Conservation Area on a nature walk with a guide.

“By far the most common animal encountered by visitors is the dog: “Europeans introduced dogs, though there was once a Polynesian dog. About 1000 years ago the Polynesians brought chickens, dogs, pigs and the Pacific rat – they bought them all mainly as food. “The Polynesian dog was a very different looking dog. It was a small dog with up pointing ears, and it was barkless. The strangest thing about it was its outturned front feet. Today you see many dogs with outturned front feet – the question is whether this in fact indicates that some of the genetic material from those early dogs survived, or does this feature come from dogs more recently, possibly a dog like a corgi?

possibility that in the days of leprosy (1880s-1920s) it was thought that dogs spread the disease. Whichever is correct, Aitutaki has been clear of dogs since the early 1900s”.

What will visitors come across in the lagoons and on the beaches? “The Pacific Reef Heron on the beach, on a rock, or in the shallow water. It can be white or speckled. They are very shy and stay away from people.

“They don’t attack people; people attack them. If it doesn’t think it has time to

“Another one visitors will see

summer, aka the flame tree. You can easily recognise its umbrella –type appearance. Another beautiful tree is the golden shower – incredible bundles of yellow flowers hanging off these trees”. “They can be almost any colour! It is an interesting plant. Here in Rarotonga we have the hibiscus that was originally introduced by the Polynesians. When you do the cross-island walk you will see the hibiscus shrubs there; the flowers on those shrubs is a dark red with multiple petals. Red is the colour of chiefs. There is a smaller hibiscus on

Image by Darrin Drumm

When she woke up she told her mother about the dream. Now her mother was a famous medicinal person on the island on Mauke, and also a royal person. She said that is the ‘medicine for the man’. The night before, her father had said he knew of a man that was extremely ill in hospital. He had put a fork through his foot and the medicines from the hospital were not working. The mother made the oil according to the dream and they gave it to this man and within no time at all he was cured of his infection. So he said it was a miracle – hence miracle oil was born! Now known commercially as Mauke Miracle Oil. “Other medicines are family traditions, so they are not available commercially; they’re part of the social structure of the islands.”

Watch out for the scorpion fish in lagoons

“The Polynesian dog died out fairly quickly, the people lost interest in it when they saw the bigger dogs coming in with the European settlers; as they did with the pigs too!” Some of the Cook Islands that have no dogs, including Aitutaki. “There are many colourful stories as to why there are no dogs on Aitutaki including the

is one that runs ahead of you on the beach, the sandpiper. It is actually the Wandering Tattler. It stays around the waters edge looking for its food. If you walk behind it long enough it will fly around you and land behind you. At the same time it gives a characteristic call and the local name for that is Kuriri – after the sound it makes. It is highly territorial bird.”

What about in the lagoon itself? “The most common creature everybody sees is the black sea cucumber. There is lots of sediment and organic matter in the lagoon and the sea cucumber is like a vacuum cleaner that sucks up the sand and poops it out cleaned.” Gerald reminds visitors there are number of ways they can easily injure themselves in the lagoon: “You shouldn’t be touching anything in the water!”

When you go snorkeling you’ll see a whole variety of fish

in any hole – that is just asking a moray to take a finger. The only thing that people really worry about is the stonefish, though they’re not that common here. The thing that is common here is the scorpion fish – and it is nowhere near as dangerous as a stonefish. Neither of them dig in to the sand, they lie on top of it. They are an ambush predator. They lie disguised on the sand or near coral waiting for a little fish to go over the top; then they just leap up and suck it in.

“Grabbing hold of a rock or coral that is sharp. You certainly don’t put your hand

Most will encounter the House Gecko

move, it raises its spines, and you are going to inject yourself with a poison. The treatment is very simple, just soak it in non-scalding hot water.” “When you go snorkeling you are going to see a whole variety of fish. The convict tang (aka surgeon fish) is a dramatic little fish often in big schools. You’ll see lots of goatfish and parrot fish too”.

What about the turtle? “Most South Pacific green turtles live in their feeding grounds around Fiji and Vanuatu. Each year a few swim to the Cook Islands to breed during the southern summer. In recent years they have been regularly seen in the Aitutaki lagoon, and around Rarotonga”.

What about the most common trees seen in the islands? “On the lowland, the flamboyant is the most spectacular tree from November through the

the lowlands, which you often see in hedges, that too was introduced by the Polynesians”. Gerald has also been recording medicinal plants since he came here in 1981. On the database they record 160 plants listed as having some sort of medicinal use. More than half the plants listed have come since the missionaries in the 1800s. He tells the story of one of the famous cases of medicinal plants in the Cook Islands the source of Mauke Miracle Oil discovered by a fourteenyear old girl in the late 1970s. “By the time I came to the Cooks, everyone seemed to have a bottle, putting in on every little sore they had and so on. And, they were all saying this was miracle oil!,” said Gerald. “The story behind miracle oil was that this fourteen year old girl had a dream that a woman dressed in white came to her and took her to a place on the island, which was well described in the dream, which showed her a plant which was used to make an oil.

Whilst it is known there was a native coconut palm here before Polynesian habitation, they brought with them the coconut trees we see most abundantly today. The native one was smaller. “The variety the Polynesians brought had bigger nuts because they contained more juice and more flesh. Coconut trees last only up to a hundred years, so when the native coconut tree was replaced by the version brought by the Polynesians it didn’t take long to die out”. The productive coconut palm is considered by Cook Islanders as the ‘tree of life’. They could not imagine living without it! Gerald McCormack is Director of the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust. He has worked with the Cook Islands Government since 1980 as Science Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Director of the Conservation Service, and Director of the Natural Heritage Project. Gerald has a First Class Masters in Zoology, and is an accomplished photographer and author. He is also President of the Cook Islands Library Museum Society Council.



S ee & D o

E S I D A R A P N I S E R ADVENTU Adventure Cook Islands

Sea Scooter Safari

Located across from Kavera Beach, Adventure Cook Islands is Rarotonga’s latest PADI dive centre and adventure tour operator offering a range of land and sea adventures and activities. Sea adventures include guided scuba dive trips, PADI dive courses, outer reef snorkeling trips, as well as free diving and blue water spearfishing trips. Land adventures include the Raemaru Mountain Trek, mountain bike tours, customized trekking tours for small groups and independent travellers, and lessons in Cook Islands dancing and drumming. If you prefer to experience Rarotonga on your own, they hire scooters, mountain bikes, bicycles, kayaks, snorkel gear, body boards and scuba equipment. Just about everything you need for an adventure in paradise!

A Sea Scooter Safari last around 90 minutes and includes fitting of mask, snorkel and fins as well as a safety and use of scooter briefing. After a short play in the water to make sure everyone is ‘all good’ they head out into the lagoon. The scooters travel at 4km an hour pulling you along effortlessly as you swim through schools of fish. Guides take you through some of the best marine snorkelling spots inside the lagoon, but for the more adventurous they run tours outside the reef to a shipwreck. Ariki Holidays, the operators of Sea Scooter Safari, are the only sea scooter operator on the island. Cost: $65.00. T: (682) 27 955 E:

T: (682) 22 212

KiteSUP Watersports Cook Islands Located at Muri village, KITESUP Watersports is located on the main road between two popular cafe's on the island's East side (LBV and Deli-Licous Café). Offering kitesurfing (lessons and kite rentals), paddle boarding and kayaking (lessons and rentals), night paddling tours (using latest technology of LED SUP systems), beach fitness (SUP/ Yoga & SUP/Pilates), and windsurfing (lessons and rentals), KITESUP Watersports are a one-stop shop for activities on Muri lagoon for young and old, learners or experienced, watersport travellers! Additionally, the KITESUP Watersports shop offers a variety of women's fashion, footwear, swimwear, snorkel gear, towels, accessories and gifts. They also offer tour booking services and advice on things to do around the island. T: (682) 27 877



Ph 55096 or A/h 25099

Raro Quad Tours Too much fun! The well-established Raro Quad Tours take you ‘off road’ to picturesque deep valleys and tropical forests on 4-wheel automatic quad bikes, accompanied by an experienced guide - an unforgettable adventure experience in Rarotonga.

n island-style ‘ light lunch’ A is also provided at either The Mooring Fish Café or

A valid driver’s license must be presented.

Quad Tours operate MondaySaturday with 8.30am and 12.00pm departures. You’ll need to book, as space is limited to seven vehicles on each tour, which lasts around 2-2.5hours. Book online, by phone or email (see below).

Just bring along sunscreen, mosquito repellant, sunglasses, drivers license, a towel and swimmers for a Raro adventure of a lifetime!

Charlie’s Café, together with a complimentary drink.

Quads are operated by one driver only at a cost of $125.00 per vehicle. The driver must be 18years +.

Transfers from around the island are provided at $10pp return, pre booked ideally.

For more information and bookings: T: (682) 23 000 E:



Private or Shared 7 Days a Week


Ph 55096 or A/h 25099 Email:



A ‘heart to heart’ with


Pa Teuruaa

…. Cook Islands’ most celebrated national treasure ‘Heart to heart’ is how Pa Teuruaa will greet you. His heart pressed against your heart, sealed by his all embracing arms.


a’s trademark personality has been the curiosity of visitors and the media for more than thirty years. His eccentric demeanor is spiritual and welcoming, his hair dreadlocked, his loin-clothed athletic body is bare-chested, and his mind wide open. Today, he is known for his pioneering eco tourism venture Pa’s Treks, which delights visitors on the challenging cross-Rarotonga trek, and the less taxing nature tours. Significantly, he is recognised for his spiritual connectedness to the island of Rarotonga. A former Ironman, competitive swimmer and lifeguard, in 1985 Pa swam from Moorea to Tahiti in French Polynesia ‘to connect to his ancestors’: but that’s another story, which did in fact, become a children’s book: Pa and the Dolphins: A true story of Pa, Rarotongan hero and his return journey to Tahiti written and illustrated by his business partner and wife, Jillian Sobieska, who is also a well-known artist. Pa’s entire life has been centred on all things natural, healthy and spiritual. He began in eco tourism in 1985; in 2013 he was awarded the coveted “Outstanding Contribution to Tourism Award”, which is a ‘big deal’ in the Cook Islands. Pa has led nearly 5000 treks to date, but nowadays he concentrates on the nature walks, with his nephew Bruce doing most of the cross-island treks.

A distinguished career shaped from modest beginnings Pa Teuruaa was born and bred on Rarotonga: “I have a fond memory of my parents and my family, my brother and my sister, and my connection to this island. I was brought up in Matevera on the eastern side of Rarotonga.”

“It was hot all the time, so I used to go to the local pool at lunchtime and after work. That was the first time I saw a bikini. I liked swimming so I got a part-time job at the pool.” “I joined the swimming squad at the Newmarket Swimming Club and never looked back. I became a champion swimmer winning lots of competitions. I was only seventeen.” Pa progressed from competing in the pool to open sea racing: “I swam the Auckland Harbour Race. I won my first open sea three-mile race. “The distance didn’t matter I just enjoyed swimming. I competed for around twenty years until 1981.” Pa’s swimming prowess came to the attention of surf clubs and soon he became a professional surf lifesaver during summers, at the same time competing in in life saving carnivals.

In all Pa had 16 years in Auckland before heading off to Sydney Australia in 1978 to try his luck in the life saving competitions.

Pa’s entire life has been centred on all things natural, healthy and spiritual.

“I competed in Iron Man; best I ever did was coming third”.

“I was a Malibu board and surf ski champion.

“Nothing eventful happened until New Year’s Eve 1986,” said Pa.

“As a life saver I saved three lives. There was no motorboats or surf belts in those days, and sometimes I had to swim through 15 foot waves”. Pa was also lifeguarding at the Olympic pool during the summertime then the Auckland City Council put him in work during the winter in their indoor pool. “Indoor, outdoors pools, plus the beach. That’s all I did in Auckland.

Pa’s father grew and exported oranges to New Zealand. Pa tells of the day in 1959 when he said to his father: “You’ve got plenty of money, can I have a boat ticket to Auckland? The Mariposa is coming in”.

Australia didn’t suit Pa, so after a year he returned to Auckland to work again as a lifeguard. In the early 1980s Pa came home to Rarotonga on a oneway ticket.

“I called the Police asking if there was a report of a cyclone, they said no. I had sensed a storm coming around 10.30am. By 11.30pm the storm started. By 1.00am the biggest storm ever hit the island, and they named it Cyclone Sally - one of worst natural disasters ever to hit the Cook Islands. “The cyclone took the roof off my house blowing it onto the back road. “Jillian (my wife today) was with a girlfriend driving around the island when they saw my roof on the back road. They wanted to see where this roof had come from so they walked down to my house. There were no houses there, only mine. So they saw my house there with no roof. That was 11.00am on January 1, 1987. Happy New Year! Pa said he and Jillian both knew the moment they met was a spiritual connection. A new resident on the island, Jillian was an artist who worked part time in the tourism industry.

So for thirty pounds, Pa moved to New Zealand at age 15. He had no English, relying on a boy he was travelling with to teach him the language. Pa soon got married, started a family and got a factory job as a car painter.

“I was married with two children living in Devonport, Mt Victoria. Then my first marriage broke up”.

Pa, lifeguard and swimming champion

“Open minds have kept us together ever since. Amen!” Another significant thing

happened at that time; he and Jillian went into business with Pa’s Treks. “I had been doing mountain walks, but decided to go professional. We set it up as a business, and we are still going! I stopped hiking in 2016. I can still do them, but my nephew Bruce does the cross-island now, I am concentrating on the nature walks”. Pa was introduced to herbal and medicinal plants at the age of four, when he collected selected plants and herbs for his grandmother, who was a herbalist.

hear about the herbs and plant medicines. In the past, I have taken in students in herbalism; they come and stay with me and learn. “I do everything for the heart. I am dedicated to the people, and I am very thankful for my life. When I was given the Outstanding Contribution to Cook Islands Tourism Award in 2013, I was so humbled. “When my name was called I went up on stage a said a little prayer.”

Spirituality There is a strong spirituality in Pa’s presence, which is acknowledged internationally.

“I am a guru of nature, and proud of it.”

In 2000, a group of Buddhist monks, followers of the Dalai Lama, came to see Pa.

Today Pa is also a herbalist and he has received visits from people all over the world asking for his advice and knowledge. Local doctor Wolfgang Losaker featured Pa and his herbalist skills in a documentary that was seen on European television. “Many people who come on the nature tour have pen and paper to record what they

“They asked me did I know the energy point on the island. I said there were two on Rarotonga – male and female. The male one is at The Needle (Te Rua Manga) rock, and that’s the point I took them to”. Pa led the monks to the base of the rock, where they buried an urn with the 900-year-old remains on an ancient master. They had waited for the new millennium to come.

“The energy point is right around The Needle, and the urn is still there. “The Dalai Lama blessed the needle when he named it one of the eight energy points in the world.” According to Pa, the Rarotonga energy point was where the ancient Polynesians were spiritually rejuvenated.

Pa’s vision for the future “My vision for the future of the Cook Islands is for tourism to look after and nurture its natural environment, and develop good eco tourism connecting to nature, keeping away where possible from manmade attractions. Pa said he would like local people to become more involved with the development of eco tourism, and overseas Cook Islanders should be encouraged to work here: “Bring back the locals!” One of Cook Islands ‘living treasures,’ Pa is a spiritual and dignified man, surrounded by a serene aura that instantly calms those in his presence. You should meet him one day. “I am a guru of nature, and proud of it,” concluded Pa.

o tourism at it’s best!


Across Island Track

• About 3.5 hours • Reasonable fitness needed (not suited for those with heart, ankle, knee or hip problems)

• Transport & light lunch provided • Monday to Friday - weather permitting

Medicinal Nature Walk

• A gentle walk through the noni plantation and taro fields to the mountain. Enter pristine rainforest, visit the sacred Marae. • Hear stories of Pa’s ancestors and learn about local herbal remedies. • Tuesday & Thursday

THE TRUE STORY OF PA & THE DOLPHINS Written and illustrated by his wife Jillian Sobieska, this story will delight and inspire children everywhere. Available from Bounty Bookshop or directly from Pa and Jillian

Bookings 21079 or email |




More passenger comfort for Koka Lagoon Cruises Koka Lagoon Cruises now operate from relaxing new premises on Muri Beach, all built with customer comfort in mind. he new building T replaces the ‘container shed’ Koka Lagoon Cruises operated from in their first six years. The new building features local sea life motifs, thatch roofing and a big open deck.

Koka staff and crew held a blessing late last year with Pastor Eliu saying a few special words, acknowledging the hard work of the staff and crew in bringing the business to what it is today, and that the new building symbolised the efforts of all involved, and the vision of the owners in starting with one boat and a container shed, and bringing the business to where it is now six years on. Manager Serena Hunter said the new office added to the professionalism of the business, and also was a place that the crew could be proud to come to each day and feel a part of, as

New premises for Koka Lagoon Cruises at Muri Beach

“We’re very proud of our new office building, its not only an asset to the business, it’s inviting and has a good feeling.” well as a popular draw card to visitors to Muri Beach. “We’re very proud of our new office building, its not only an asset to the business, it’s inviting and has a good feeling, and aside from servicing our lagoon cruise guests, we have people coming down

and relaxing on the deck and seating overlooking the lagoon. “The new premises add to the aesthetics on the beachside.

“Koka Lagoon Cruises looks forward to continuing its reputation as a #1 ranked tour on the island”.

A local family-owned business, Koka Lagoon Cruises operate glass bottom boat cruises from Muri Beach exploring Muri Lagoon and a nearby motu (small island), snorkelling amongst lagoon life, with nonstop entertainment including ukulele playing, pareu tying, weaving, fish BBQ feast, a coconut tree climbing show and coconut husking. For more information: T: (682) 55 769 E:

FAQ: game fishing off Rarotonga



10% OFF


How far out do charters go? We are fishing the moment we leave the harbour - 3000m out is 300m deep, so there is no travelling times to fishing spots. The furthest charters go always exposed to the elements. out would be 10km tops. What safety equipment does a How many people can be on charter carry? the boat at one time? All fishing charters that are There is a range of charter accredited have standards boats; some take two anglers, to meet. Check to see if the some up to 30. Talk to the charter boat is accredited. skippers and see what they have to offer. You are often able All boats have the standard lifejackets and radio join a shared charter. Prices equipment. vary from boat to boat.

eafari is Rarotonga’s longest operating charter boat. Based at Avatiu Harbour its owners, Kevin and Sharon, answer ‘frequently asked questions’ about fishing charters. What is the length of typical charter? 4.5 – 5 hours What is the most common game fish caught off Rarotonga? Depending on the season, but mainly mahi mahi, wahoo and yellow fin tuna. Do anglers keep the fish they catch? Most times the catch is shared between those who are fishing so they get to take some back for a meal. Which is better for game fishing, morning or afternoon? It doesn’t make much difference. All species are caught at most times of the day. Will it be rough on the open ocean? Depending on the weather and winds. Some days it can be like a millpond with a slight wind chop. There are no little islands to shelter around so we are

Do anglers need to be experienced in game fishing to charter a boat? No, the crew does all the work. Boats come with experienced skippers and deckhands. What food and beverage is provided on a fishing charter? This varies with the charter boat, but most provide light refreshments. All boats provide water. It is advisable to check what is provided before you commit to the charter.

What are the best outcomes an angler can expect on a good day’s fishing? That depends on your expectations! On a good day, the island is spectacular from the water, and there is also the whale season between July–September. Marlin are here November-March. Most anglers are thrilled to get mahi mahi, or just to catch a fish and have something to take back for a meal.

For more information: Can anglers charter on a rainy T: (682 25) 099 or (682) 55 096 day? E:
 Yes, the fish don’t mind getting wet!

An adventure to suit all ages, fitness & experience. MUCH MORE THAN JUST A BIKE RIDE

Book Now!

Phone 23450 or 53450



A few tips on Diving & Snorkelling Rarotonga

Whale & Wildlife Centre

Don’t miss it!

From Sabine




at The Dive Centre, aka The Big Fish


visitors have never scuba dived or snorkelled before, what can they do in Rarotonga to try out one or both of those experiences on an average stay?

age 10) that includes a lagoon dive for training first, and then if they like it, a dive off the reef limited to twelve meters with maximum four divers + instructor, and we always have an instructor on the boat.

There are lots of places, but a good place to start for both scuba and snorkelling is the The Dive Centre (obviously!) We’re located opposite one of the most gorgeous lagoons in Rarotonga with the oldest Raui and the Aroa Marine Reserve that boasts over eighty fish species, and its shallow - one and a half to three meters deep. Perfect for snorkelling and a first time scuba introduction.

What can snorkelers do to help keep Rarotonga's lagoons healthy? Don’t over swim the reef, stay at the edge of the reef where most of the fish are.

What are the minimum fitness levels and best tips for the enjoyment of snorkeling and diving?

What tips do you have for snorkellers about gear, best and worst times of day, sunscreen and water conditions?

For snorkelling: nearly everyone can try it, we are happy to help with the first steps if you never snorkelled before, fit you out with equipment and show you how its done. Some people are a little scared of scuba diving, but actually its a bit easier then snorkelling. The breathing is easy, but you will need to able to swim, that is important, but you don’t have to be a perfect swimmer. Certain medical issues will stop you from doing scuba diving, but most of them might not even apply when we take you into the shallow lagoon. If you are not sure always ask. Safety always comes first!

This depends on the day, location, and condition! Rarotonga is a small island. We are blessed to have our mountains, which usually give us one side of the island sheltered. This applies for snorkelling as well as scuba diving. The lagoons are mostly safe, but stay well away from any passage on the south side, which are dangerous! Gear has

Where are the most popular snorkeling and diving locations? For snorkelling it’s the Aroa Marine Reserve, Fruits of Rarotonga and Tikioki Lagoon. For diving - hard to tell as we dive all around the island and it’s very different on each side. It also depends on the experience level of the diver. Most of the dive sites are between 18-25 meters and its usually easy diving.

Can visitors’ scuba dive in the lagoons as well as the open water? Yes they can; they could try a ‘discover scuba dive’ (from

fish up a bit because they look for the sun. If you use sunscreen please be aware that your sunscreen can affect the reef in a very bad way and it’s our responsibility to protect the reef. Oxybenzone and Avobenzone are ingredients you don’t want to have in your sunscreen!

If you have to stand up, find a sandy area, put your full foot in the sand and shuffle backwards. No need for any food to attract fish, which can actually destroy our reef, just take two little stones off the beach go in the water and bang them together… you will be amazed what will happens!

What does a person who wears glasses or contact lens do about snorkeling or scuba diving? Contact lenses are usually not a problem at all with snorkelling and scuba diving. If your eyesight is bad you might want to look into buying a mask with prescription lenses before you coming to the Cooks, as they are not available here.

What do people most often say to you after diving in Rarotonga’s waters for a week or so? to fit well, as you won’t have a lot of fun if you have fins that are too big and you get some cramps, or even blisters if they are too small. Rain actually is really cool as the fish love to play with the bubbles. Outside the reef, overcast brings the

Sea Scooter Safari - Night SUP Lagoon Tour - SUP & Snorkel Tours Mountain Bike Tours - SUP Fit Classes - Cocktail Night Paddles GIANT XL SUP Hire - Kiteboarding Lessons

See you next time! We rely on people on returning once they’ve caught the ‘Rarobug’. For many beginners it’s the highlight of their trip as they are introduced to diving in a very safe, slow encouraging environment.

Sabine Janneck is co-owner of the Dive Centre (aka the Big Fish). She is from Germany and a qualified Padi Divemaster. Her passion is underwater photography and marine conservation/education. Sabine learned to dive in Mexico where she met her partner, Sascha. For more information: T: +682 20 238, mobile: +682 55 238 E:

Tours leave 9 & 11 am, 2 & 4 pm Sunday to Friday (conditions dependent) 9am & 4pm tours by special arrangement


+682 55901 +682 55903 LANDLINE

+682 22608




“ One hundred… not out!”

Image credit: Turama Photography

own raider, the Seeadler, had been wrecked at Mopelia. Mistaking the darkness of the Maitai as a deliberate blackout by watchful crew, von Luckner instead opted to head back out to sea – the Maitai had saved Rarotonga from an armed landing!

The mysterious ‘boiler’


or Rarotonga, Christmas Day 2016 marked an unusual centenary - the day the Union Steam Ship Company’s RMS Maitai, was wrecked on the reef at Avarua. Today, the ‘Boiler’ - as locals (incorrectly) refer to the ship’s main engine – is a bit of a mystery. However, as it looks set to be a fixture on the reef for another 100 years, the Cook Islands Sun decided to dig into the Maitai’s history. It turns out this lonely, forgotten, tower of rust marks the remains of a truly remarkable ship. Thanks to Tim Arnold, Rarotonga resident, local steam enthusiast and internet trawler, here we can enjoy a fascinating insight into the ‘mysterious boiler’ and the wreck of the Maitai.

Beginnings – the Miowera The Maitai did not start life either with that name or as a Union Steam Ship Company ship. She was built in Newcastle-on-Tyne back in 1892, as the Miowera, for James Huddart, a wealthy Australian shipowner. Paying for her personally, the Miowera, along with her sister ship, Warrimoo, represented a good part of Huddart’s fortune. His great dream was for a British Empire shipping and railway route – the All Red Route – connecting Australia and New Zealand, across the Pacific, Canada and the Atlantic, to ‘Home’. The Miowera’s arrival in Sydney in late 1892 marked the start of a fiercely contested trade war between Huddart’s company and the Union Steam Ship Company. It was a price war like nothing seen before or since. Steamers like racehorses, galloping from port to port; newspapers keenly reporting speeds, times and tactics. Fares dropped to the point that a 10/- ($1.00) fare across the Tasman (with bed and board included) literally made it cheaper to travel than to stay home! The madness could not last; in April 1893 a quiet gentlemen’s

agreement saw the Miowera leave the ‘inter-colonial service’. Instead, she went off to make history – the very first voyage of the Pacific ‘All Red Route’ – a service that lasted for sixty years, carrying the royal mails between Australia and Vancouver.

The ‘Rock Habit’ Just months later, though, the Miowera was wrecked! High and dry on the Honolulu harbour reef. It took six weeks to salvage her; she was patched up and steamed round Cape Horn, all the way back to the UK so her builders could put a whole new bottom on the ship. Huddart aimed to recover some of his losses by putting the Miowera on cruise work for the UK summer of 1894. A tour of the Norwegian fjords ended badly – it was ‘abandon ship’ when the pilot crashed open the ship’s side on a massive rock. Bruised and battered she limped back – a second time – to her builders. By late 1894 the ship was notorious – the great Mark Twain referred to her jokingly as a ship ‘”with the Rock Habit”. Serious mechanical and boiler troubles followed, that saw Huddart suffer more losses. Famously, the Miowera helped rescue the steamship Strathnevis – adrift in the

North Pacific for 59 days with over 200 aboard (its propeller had dropped off!). However, not even that salvage award could stave off bankruptcy. By late 1897, Huddart had lost both his fortune and his ships – by 1901 he was dead. The Miowera continued her trans-Pacific runs, her line now under the control of the New Zealand Shipping

Mistaking the darkness of the Maitai as a deliberate blackout by watchful crew, von Luckner instead opted to head back out to sea – the Maitai had saved Rarotonga from an armed landing! Company. 1902 saw the Miowera make shameful legal history in Honolulu – some of that territory’s first-ever racial discrimination awards - after a black minstrel troupe were denied passage on the ship. A performer who had less trouble getting aboard was Nellie Melba, the world famous Australian prima donna who today graces

Australia’s $100 note. Her long-awaited homecoming was aboard the Miowera. Unfortunately, heavy weather led to delays, fuelling speculation the Miowera had sunk and taken Australia’s greatest daughter down with it!

Old and Slow By 1908, ageing and slowing, the Miowera was taken off the All Red run. She was purchased by the Union Steam Ship Company, re-named the Maitai, and put back into service on the ‘inter-colonial’ run. Two years later, though, the ship was again making history. Put on the ‘Frisco run, from Wellington to San Francisco, through Rarotonga and Papeete, she was one of the first New Zealand ships fitted with wireless. Famously, she brought back to Wellington with her, New Zealand’s first proper marine radio installation for the Government. Veteran that she was, the Maitai lasted only two years on that run, but the start of WWI saw her replacement requisitioned as a troopship, so back she came! Along with her running mate Moana, the Maitai avoided the cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisnau that had shelled Papeete (our very own Tiare Taporo in harbour at the time) in September 1914, arriving to find the township battered and

the coal heap still smoking! The Maitai’s own fate, when it came on 25 December 1916, was almost an anticlimax – mid evening, a calm night with little breeze…and the sudden parting of the anchor chain, leaving her hard on a mushroom of coral that penetrated her hull - by 11am Boxing Day 1916 the fires were dropped for the last time.

Von Luckner and the ‘Auxiliary Cruiser’ The wrecked Maitai, though, had one more trick to play. In September 1917, several months abandoned, she lay in total darkness. A launch neared the Avarua harbour; aboard was Count Felix von Luckner, shipwrecked German raider and his crew of armed officers. They planned to come ashore to seize supplies and perhaps a larger boat; their

By early 1920, it was all over; crashing storms had left just the engine (as today) and a small part of the bow visible. Picked over for non-ferrous scrap at the start of World War II, the Maitai played host to some enthusiastic amateur salvors in the 1950s and 60s. One of those, Gordon Keys, has recently published a short history of the ship, and a fascinating account of raising two of her propeller blades. A third blade helped finance Malcolm Sword Snr into Cook Islands General Transport. For more reading, visit the Maitai Exhibition at Cook Islands Library Museum on historic Makea Tinirau Road. And, to get up close and personal with this remarkable relic of those wonderful steamship days…. book a trip on the Raro Reef Sub, which sails out the wreck daily from Avatiu Harbour. Some of the local dive companies dive on the wreck. Tim Arnold

The Book:

The Cook Islands Library and Museum Society recently published Stranded in Paradise - Salvage on the wreck of the RMS Maitai, and her story authored by Cook Islandsbased Gordon Keys. The book is available from Museum Cook Islands located on Makea Tinirau Road, opposite the University of the South Pacific, or at the Bounty Book Shop, in Avarua.

The Exhibition:

The history of the RMS Maitai is currently on display at Museum Cook Islands.




Visit Aitutaki Many will tell you that a vacation to the Cook Islands is incomplete without a visit to Aitutaki. Famous for its vast blue lagoon and palm-fringed beaches, Aitutaki is more peaceful and less crowded than Rarotonga.

Only a forty-minutes from Rarotonga, Aitutaki is a lovely little island paradise with lots to do…or nothing to do! The ‘lots’ include snorkeling, scuba diving, wind surfing, game and bone fishing, eating and drinking! The ‘nothing’ involves peace and quiet, relaxation and rejunination. Or, enjoy a hassle free combination of both! Aitutaki has a population of

around 2000 and no dogs! The island was the first of the Cook Islands to embrace Christianity back in the early 1800s and it has the oldest church the Cook Islands, and some of the biggest banyan trees. If you can’t stay a while in Aitutaki go for the day! Air Rarotonga’s Day Tour is a convenient option for those who are only in the Cooks for a week or so.


Our well-maintained and modern fleet includes • small 4 door hatchback cars • 8 seater MPV's • 15 seater vans • automatic scooters

Air Rarotonga’s inclusive Aitutaki Day Tour operates Mondays to Saturdays departing at 8.00am, returning by 5.30 pm.

Phone: (682) 31379 Email:

On arrival you are taken on a one-hour island tour by ‘le truck’. This is followed by the Vaka Cruise aboard the 21m vaka (catamaran), Titi-ai-Tonga, which offers comfortable seating and deck sun loungers. There is time for snorkeling, swimming and beachcombing on the little islands in the lagoon, working up an appetite for a barbecue lunch cooked on board. Included in the Aitutaki Day Tour price of NZ$493.00 (including VAT) per person: • Pick up/drop off from/to your accommodation on Rarotonga. • Return flights from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. • The Aitutaki Island Tour. • The Vaka Lagoon Cruise with stops on islands in the lagoon. • Snorkeling equipment and towels. • BBQ lunch, tea, coffee and water.

Book with the Air Rarotonga Tour Desk at Rarotonga International Airport or call 22 888 seven days a week. Enquire by email at or visit

Only 45 min ut

es to Aitutaki

taki lagoon

tu Bone Fi shing in Ai

with Air Raro





Enjoying Aitutaki with Nick Henry, General Manager, Tamanu Beach Best places to watch the sunrise For those who are keen to be up before sunrise the view from Piraki lookout is heavenly. Looking towards motu Angarei and Motu Ee as the sun sneaks through the coconut palms and lights up the lagoon. Otherwise sunrise (May-Sep) when the sun is north of east the view from the Boat Shed verandah looking across the ocean reef break can be spectacular.

Best places to watch the sunset Every sunset is special. Sunsets are delightful from the beaches of Amuri, right through past town. On Fridays, my partner Diane and I often share a glass of wine at the end of the Arutanga harbour as the reds and purples light up the evening sky.

Top three ‘must do’ activities First ‘must do’ is - slow down - breathe - now you are starting to feel the Aitutaki essence. Undoubtedly top of the list is our lagoon - a lagoon cruise with any of Aitutaki's

main lagoon - go with a local lagoon cruise and stop off at various spots - the sandbank off Honeymoon Island is pretty good, and each operator has their own favourites around the island. If you want to snorkel off the main island, base one near the end of the old airstrip is good and anywhere along Amuri Beach from Tamanu Beach to Pacific Resort.

Best long walk on the island Depending on how long you want to walk, but starting in town at the Post Office and walking through the middle of the island past Kuramoo gardens and up to Piraki Lookout is a leisurely walk with gentle slopes. Take some fruit and water. Walking up to Maunga Pu is a little more strenuous, but she rewards you with great views!

Best places to meet the locals Almost every Friday afternoon, the locals compete at the various sports clubs around the island, and then of course there is church on Sunday. If it’s nightlife you are looking for our version of ‘clubbing’ is going to the golf and fishing clubs Wednesday through to Saturday, best time normally after 9pm.

Don’t leave Aitutaki without... …your jandals - just kidding - a stamp in your passport if you haven't made a visit to One Foot Island (tapuae tai) then you haven't been to Aitutaki and experienced possibly the most beautiful tropical beach in the world. cruise companies is an absolute must! No2: Meet the locals -say Kia Orana- whether it's over an ice cream in town, a beer at the fishing club, or in one of our churches - meeting the locals is a must do. No3: Tamanu Takurua Island Night & Fire Dance Show- this sounds a little self promoting, however, based on the number of locals that come for Aunty Marie’s pork its got to be right up there!

Best coffee on the island As the GM I have to say that at Tamanu Beach we have a new rainforest organic coffee bean that tastes great via our retro Faema E61 espresso machine, but in all honesty you can't go past Koru Café for coffee and my favourite there is the affogato!

Best cultural activity to experience Our version of the energiser bunny is Ngaa at Punarei Cultural Tours. This man never stops. He exudes positive energy - and he is becoming a wealth of knowledge about our traditions. I highly recommend you book this tour as a part of your Aitutaki experience.

Best snorkeling spots Best snorkelling is in the

Something interesting about Aitutaki that all visitors should know? People of Aitutaki are proud that the first leader of our small nation, our grandfather, Papa Arapati was born in Aitutaki. They named the main road to the harbour Sir Albert Henry Drive after him, and the road back inland from the dock is named Lady Elizabeth Henry Road after Albert's wife. Of the nine prime ministers (since independence in the 60s), six have Aitutaki heritage. Also, in 1942, USA and NZ armed forces were stationed in Aitutaki - they built an airstrip and they erected ‘u shaped’ bunkers that would house their aircraft under camouflaged netting. Some of the ‘u shaped’ mounds of coral sand are still visible today.

Kite Surng Tube Riding Water Skiingg Wake Boarding ing Snorkelling Boat Charters rs Deep Sea Fishing Spear Fishing Water Taxi Whale Watching (seasonal) Beachfront accommodation

E: T: 31651, 56558 or 75980

Rino s ’

Beach Bungalows & Rentals

Affordable self-contained beachfront bungalows & apartments

(with airport transfers)

Best rentals rates on scooters, jeeps, cars and bicycles Call +682 31197 | Email |

YES, we do it all. Let my husband

I take you out on one Aand great day out! of our Personalised Charters.

CK PEARL A L B CHARTERS 1.DEEP SEA FISHING - Fish the FADs and drop offs for Tuna, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi. Other fishing available, jigging, live baiting, bottom fishing and casting for GTs. Experience not required.

All Charters include, transfers, breakfast or lunch, hot and cold drinks, towels, snorkelling equipment, etc. Certificate of Excellence

2. PRIVATE LAGOON / SNORKELLING TOURS - Enjoy a day exploring our lagoon without the crowds. More snorkeling than any other operator, including the outer reef. Visit as many islands as time allows and enjoy a BBQ on One Foot Island. Timings are flexible and families welcome. Half days also available. 3. SPEARFISHING - Spearfish your own lunch or dinner, experience not required. Phone Give us a call for details. 31125 home

52 125 mobile Email:



Dive Aitutaki with turtle

crew members, with one crew member always on board during the dive for safety reasons”.

‘Bubbles Below’ is the main dive operator on Aitutaki. Also known as Dive Aitutaki, ‘Bubbles Below’ is run by Onu Hewett - a New Zealand accredited Padi and SSI diving instructor of Aitutakian descent.

nu is the Cook Islands O Maori name for turtle. Just like his namesake, Onu Hewett is very much at home in the open ocean or in Aitutaki’s lagoon.

According to Onu having that name was not always good when he was young. “At school in New Zealand when someone calls you ‘turtle’ it sometimes ended in a fight; however now it fits in well with diving!” Whilst Onu was born in Auckland, both his parents are from Aitutaki. “Dad told me that times were tough during his upbringing on Aitutaki. They moved to NZ for a new start. My dad was a fireman for over twenty years and mum was a food laboratory worker.

“I go with just about all dive trips because I don’t like being kept out of the water”.

you come back that you have something to do or offer before living here in Aitutaki”.

When asked about the future Onu said he would like to be relocated downtown nearer the harbour.

“I kept coming back more regularly because of the love for the place. “In NZ I was always diving and fishing, even taking out my dad’s workmates on private snapper fishing trips, however it was after one of the trips back to Aitutaki that an idea came to mind. “I had seen an ad in the NZ Herald to become a professional diver, and I thought this could be my ticket home! “When I saw the ad in the paper, I said to myself – that’s me!

Onu riding along with a green turtle

from family, friends and the Aitutaki community was heartwarming!”

Scuba opportunities in Aitutaki Onu said scuba diving is one of the most rewarding experiences for visitors to Aitutaki. “The shallow lagoon in Aitutaki is perfect for new or inexperienced divers to learn scuba before venturing outside.

“When I left school in NZ I got into carpentry and building.” Onu loved playing rugby league, representing Hawkes Bay, and also playing in the Auckland premier competition for both Mt Albert and Ellerslie Eagles Rugby League Club, as well as representing the Cook Islands. “I played either hooker or prop with the Eagles for six years”. It was 1989 when Onu first visited his traditional home island of Aitutaki: “I was 15. I loved the idea of coming home!” After his first visit Onu wanted to stay but his father said: “…make sure when

Onu Hewitt with his ‘onu’ namesake

“I qualified as both a Padi (Professional Assoc. Diving Instructors) and SSI (Scuba Schools International) Dive Instructor. It was then that the planning process took place to return to Aitutaki. “Two years later I had accumulated the necessary equipment ready for the move to Aitutaki with my wife Menema and our children to start our business venture ‘Bubbles Below’. The support

“Outside they will see turtles, I can pretty much guarantee that. And they are pretty big too! They can even pat them if they are lucky.

“They’ll experience some of the best diving in the Pacific, sighting schools of white spotted eagle rays, manta rays, massive green turtles, reef sharks, colourful napoleon wrasses and moray eels. Onu said one of the most unexpected experiences divers can have is when a whale cruises past, in season. “That is awesome. They are humpbacks with their calves. They cruise just off the reef between July and October.” Onu said diving in Aitutaki is popular with all age groups, including honeymooners.

Lime coloured lion fish

Napoleon wrasse


“A big part of our business is young couples who have never been scuba diving before. We teach them

I don’t like being kept out of the water. the basics of safety, use of equipment and what and what not to do, then within the hour we’ll have them having the time of their lives experiencing Aitutaki’s underwater world. “The rewarding thing for me is seeing the massive smiles upon surfacing after a dive, that’s very a satisfying moment. You just sit back and listen

as they talk about their dive experience”. ‘Bubbles Below’ provides all the diving gear and they know the best places to dive around Aitutaki. “Aitutaki has both fringing coral reef and a shallow sandy lagoon, so it offers both scuba diving and snorkelling - all close to land. “We also offer PADI courses, Discover Scuba, Open and Advanced Open Water, through to Divemaster, as well as two tank dives daily. The ‘Bubbles’ boat can take up to eight divers and two

“We have just received some very welcoming news from the Aitutaki Island Council to use one of the buildings near the wharf for our dive operation, so at the moment we are in the process of preparing this building. “This is very exciting, something I’ve always wanted to help the business grow and to expand into the retail side of selling masks, fins, spearfishing gear and accessories. We should be relocating very soon!” When asked about his love of diving around Aitutaki Onu said: “Naturally turtles know all the best diving spots so I enjoy showing divers the natural diving locations around our awesomely beautiful island of Aitutaki.” For more information about Bubbles Below, visit








Private Island Resort 5

2 3

The ONLY Overwater Bungalows, the ONLY private island resort, the ONLY resort right on world famous Aitutaki Lagoon. Exclusively yours. Sunset beach weddings. New Virtual Tours online.

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Fully Credit cards accepted Openlicensed. Mon-Sat for Lunch only Enjoy a la-carte fine dining Mon-Sat from 6.30pm Major credit cards accepted Bookings recommended

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Tel. 31678 678 Ph. 31

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Ph. [682] 31 810 Fax. [682] 31 816 A I T U TA K I • C O O K I S L A N D S



Blue Lagoon Restaurant & Bar +682 31009

CoOK ISLANDS SuN Tumunu translates as coconut trunk. It is the word given to a barrel carved out of the bulbous base of the coconut tree and also the name given to the social gatherings in Atiu, known as the tumunu. The brew enjoyed at a tumunu is a bush beer made out of oranges.



The tumunu tradition emerged in Atiu as a matter of necessity following the arrival of the missionaries who banned the drinking of alcohol over two hundred years ago. The social practice, whilst not illegal nowadays has survived and is of interest to visitors.

Birds-nest ferns, a sight to see


Set in the jungle, the tumunu is the meeting place for expressing ideas, singing songs and solving problems. There are currently six tumunu on Atiu each meets at different times in evenings during the week, except Sunday!

Because of its limited accommodation capacity and flight schedules, Atiu receives less than fifty visitors each week, making a stay in Atiu quite special. There are a few accommodation outlets on the island, but the most comfortable place to stay if you appreciate an onsite swimming pool, restaurant and tropical gardens, is Atiu Villas. Their six villas feature a mini-bar and larder. There is also a floodlit grass tennis court, vehicles for rent and free WIFI. For more information about travel to the island of Atiu, contact:


• Jetsave Travel (Main Road, Avarua, Rarotonga) on +682 27707 or • Air Rarotonga on +682 22888 or • Cook’s Landing, one of Atiu’s beautiful beaches

are probably in the right place for the tumunu,” said Jackey.

Jackey Tanga from Atiu Villas, our storyteller

tiu-born Jackey Tanga has lived in New A Zealand and Australia and now works at Atiu Villas. Part of her job includes organising day tours for visitors. Here she tells us about tumunu, the Atiu tradition ‘not to be missed’. “If you are driving in the middle of nowhere, and you hear laughter and singing you


“You’ll see a hut in the jungle. When you enter you'll spot a person (barman) in the centre and everyone else will sit on a stool surrounding the barman. He will have a small coconut shell, and all he'll do is scoop and pass, scoop and pass. When you enter, they will offer you a chair or stool. When the coconut shell goes around and arrives to you, you just take it and drink; then pass it back to the barman. Easy process! The second or third time, you can choose to say ‘pass’ but the happier you are the more you want to join in their fun so you tend to say ‘yes please thank you!’ This is a great way to talk to the local people, because everyone’s happy”. According to Jackey, Tumunu is very much part of the daily lives of the people of Atiu. “It has become an art form in

Birdman George, a tour worth joining

itself. And, now women are accepted into the tumunu, whereas once upon a time women had to stay home and just look after the household. “Brews vary in taste and alcohol content depending on who makes it. Some add passion fruit to their brew while others just leave it like it is. Sometimes the brew is compared to a new red wine, and some compare it to ciders, both a little bit sweet.


Birdman George introduces visitors to Atiu's unique forests and their occupants. Learn about the plants, flowers and trees - native and imported. Hear about traditional

medicines. But, especially, learn about Atiu’s birds and bird programs, and view the birds close up, including the Kakerori (Rarotonga Fly Catcher) and the Kura (Rimatara Lorikeet). Thanks to the eradication of the Mynah birds, Atiu now has more fruits, and more fauna life. Birdman George’s tour ends on one of Atiu’s beautiful beaches with a picnic.

What other activities can visitors experience in a few days in Atiu?

Depending on the season, visitors can rent a scooter or bicycle to explore the island, including the lake, Coral Garden, sinkholes and the three grottos. The Anatakitaki Cave Tour, and Rima Rau Burial Cave Tour are operated by tour guide, Marshall (originally from England).

“A new tour guide, Peckham Mokoroa, has recently returned from Melbourne, and has quickly become part of the tumunu tradition. With him you get to see and meet some of the local people. You get to learn about the brew and also learn about the coconut tree. This tour also includes an introduction to the coconut tree because that’s where it all started from - the tree of life in the Cook Islands,” said Jackey.

Cook Islands specialists for inter-island packages, local tours and activities Foreign Exchange and Money Transfers A one-stop shop with personalised service


Your hosts Roger and Kura will make your stay an exciting adventure Phone: (682) 33 777 | Email: On-line bookings at - Free email & internet For more information on Atiu Island visit



C ommunity

PROTECT A LITTLE PARADISE How you can help! In Rarotongan Maori, Ipukarea translates as ‘our heritage’. The Cook Islands Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) is an organisation dedicated to looking after that heritage.

lanna Smith and Liam A Kokaua are locals and full-time project officers for the Society, working on a daily basis with TIS technical director Kelvin Passfield.

Liam acknowledges that Te Ipukarea Society is the oldest and most active environmental organisation in the islands. “We celebrated our 20th birthday this year. That’s twenty years working towards ensuring that economic activities are not destructive to our islands, and that they conserve our natural environment. “Our membership includes environmental ‘greenie’ types, traditional leaders, government workers, ex-pat and local people, the young and the not so young. And, we have a number of local business sponsors.” The Society are active in a range of environmental issues, focussing mainly on waste management, biodiversity, ecologically sustainable development, and youth. “Alanna and I visit schools to inform students about TIS activities and programs. We have also run a marine camp encouraging students to pursue a career in marine science. We are currently running a composting and worm farming project with schools throughout the Cook Islands,” said Liam. “Climate change is a new area for us. Our first project is presenting weather stations to all schools. We will be training schools on how to record and analyse data so they can build their own climate records for their school and islands.” The Mana Tiaki Protect A Little Paradise Program Another new project for the Society has been the introduction of the 'Mana Tiaki Protect a Little Paradise’ program, which is aimed at visitors to the Cook Islands, a program that enables visitors to make a donation to help fund TIS activities. In the Cooks, Mana Tiaki means the authority of a

caretaker or guardianship. “Everyone wants to enjoy our beautiful lagoons, beaches, and mountain forests. Mana Tiaki enables visitors to contribute to helping local people ensure that these areas remain clean and pristine for the future,” said Liam. “We have donation boxes in participating hotels and at the airport departure lounge – so if you have some spare Cook Islands coins please make a donation!” Alanna offered suggestions in which visitors can further assist the Society in their work. “Some waste management practices to keep in mind whilst on the island include supporting food vendors who sell food in bio-degradable containers. A number of food vendors

Alanna with a ‘Mana Tiaki’ donation box at Rarotonga Airport

“We have the passion and the belief that all this work will benefit future generations of Cook Islanders, as well as future visitors to our shores” on Rarotonga have made the shift from nasty polystyrene containers to the bamboo starch bio-degradable. So keep an eye out for these eco-friendly vendors. Also, you can support the ‘rent a plate’ initiative at the Muri Night markets. Simply rent a plate and cutlery for a donation, which can then be

Te Ipukarea project officers, Alanna Smith and Liam Kokaua

used at all food vendors on site. Used plates and cutlery are washed by students from Te Uki Ou Primary and funds generated go directly to the local school,’ said Alanna. “Visitors can also assist financially by joining Te Ipukarea Society as a member – $20 for individuals and $50 for a family. Join up at the Society's office located close to town, in Tupapa, between Bamboo Jacks Restaurant and Rarotonga Printing.” Accommodation outlets currently participating in the ‘Mana Tiaki’ program are Aro'a Beachside Inn, Ikurangi Eco Retreat, The Islander Hotel, Manuia Beach Resort, Moana Sands Beachfront Hotel, Muri Beach Resort, Muri Beachcomber Resort, Nautilus Resort, Pacific Resort, Rumours Luxury Villages and Spa. And, the list is growing. “During 2017, we plan to roll the program out to other visitor-oriented businesses such as cafes, restaurants, shops, car rental services, and attractions,” said Liam. “The Dive Centre in Aroa is already a participant.” “For a small team team we have huge challenges and very little money to direct towards these challenges, but we have the passion and the belief all this work will benefit future generations of Cook Islanders, as well as future visitors to our shores,” said Liam “We have been fortunate to have had the encouragement of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation since the beginning of the ‘Mana Tiaki’ program. With their support we present the program to the industry through the meetings attended by tourism operators – this has helped us to reach out to accommodation managers”. A final message about the Mana Tiaki Protect a Little Paradise

program and its importance to the future of tourism from the technical director of TIS, Kelvin Passfield. “Tourism generates significant

economic benefits for the Cook Islands, but there are negative consequences through increased levels of solid and liquid waste, and stresses to our infrastructure. As tourism grows, the impacts on our fragile environment also increase. These pressures are a real threat to our natural ecosystems, especially the lagoons and coastal areas where most tourism occurs. Our Mana Tiaki projects aim to minimise pressures and promote visitors education in these natural areas. So please help us protect a little paradise. “Consider making a donation before you leave your accommodation, or at the airport on departure. Look for the Mana Tiaki Protect a Little Paradise boxes. Meitaki Ma’ata.” Contact: Te Ipukarea Society: W:; E:; T: 21144;

Help us make sure the Cook Islands and our island way of life is maintained for generations to come. The Mana Tiaki programme enables visitors to engage with our local conservation efforts through supporting the work of Te Ipukarea Society and local communities in looking after our natural environment.

All donations received will be channelled into one of these five key areas and will assist in making sure our holiday destination will always be that special place to visit.

COOK ISLANDS SUN SUPPORTERS Adventure Cook Islands Air Rarotonga Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa Alberto’s Restaurant Anchorage Restaurant & Bar Ariki Adventures Atiu Villas & Kura’s Kitchen Avaiki Cook Islands Pearls Boat Shed Restaurant & Bar Bishops Cruises Black Pearl Charters Blossom at id.CK Blue Lagoon Restaurant & Bar Café Jireh Café Salsa Captain Andy’s Beach Bar & Grill Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes Charlie’s Café & Beach Hire Coco Putt Bistro & Bar Cook’s Fudge Factory Deli-Licious Café Good Life Id.CK Island Car & Bike Hire CIPS Coconut Tours Computer Man Dive Aitutaki Dive Centre Edgewater Resort & Spa Factory Outlet Farm Direct Pearls FEXCO Money Exchange Flambé Restaurant Goldmine Highland Paradise Cultural Centre Islander Hotel CIPS Electronics/Jaycar Jetsave Travel Kikau Hut Restaurant KiteSup Watersports Center Koka Lagoon Cruises La Casita Café LBV Bakery & Café Le Rendez-Vous Café & Bistro Little Polynesian Café Mana Tiaki – Te Ipukarea Society Matutu Brewery Moana Gems & Art Gallery Muri Beach Club Hotel Oceans Restaurant & Bar OTB Restaurant & Bar Pa’s Treks Pacific Weave Perfumes of Rarotonga Polynesian Rentals Popoara Rentals Raro Buggy Tours Raro Reef Sub Eco Tours Rarotonga Rentals Rickshaw Café Rarotonga Rito Cook Islands Rinos Bungalows & Rentals Rumours Waterfall Spa Sails Restaurant & iSOBAR Saltwater Café Sanctuary on the Beach Seafari Fishing Charters Shipwreck Hut Beach Bar Silver Sands Restaurant & Bar Storytellers Eco Cycle Tours Spaghetti House Pizzeria & Grill Tamanu Beach Tamarind House T&S ArtworX Te Tika Bioactive Cook Islands Oils Te Vara Nui The Café The Spa Tik e-tours Tivaevae Collectables Tokerau Jim Treasure Chest Tumunu Restaurant & Bar Tupuna’s Restaurant Waterline Restaurant & Beach Bar Wet and Wild Aitutaki Whale & Wildlife Centre Wilson’s Beach Bar Yellow Hibiscus Restaurant & Bar Vaima on the Beach Restaurant


DRIVE? Friends of

Road side assistance and scooter skills testing available 7 days a week

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Profile for Cook Islands Sun

Cook Islands Sun Jan-Jun 2017 edition  

A Cook Islands traveller magazine covering what to see and do, eat and drink, shopping, news and reviews, and local stories.

Cook Islands Sun Jan-Jun 2017 edition  

A Cook Islands traveller magazine covering what to see and do, eat and drink, shopping, news and reviews, and local stories.