I must confess that I had never heard of Rarotonga until I came to New Zealand. When a colleague told me that they were going there I said “where is that?”. I assumed perhaps it must be part of Tonga. Sometimes referred to as just “Raro” by the Kiwis, it is the largest of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Time to get ready for Island Time (you are never late in the Cook Islands!) and ultimate relaxation…
First though…some things you may not know about Rarotonga and the Cook Islands…
- Seagulls have not yet discovered Rarotonga. There are none about (and no pigeons either). What there are are plenty of chickens roaming freely and it is quite peculiar to be snorkelling with the sound of cockerels ringing in your ears.
- Rarotonga is a volcanic island (not active) and is quite mountainous in its interior although still only small (circumference of around 32km). It is surrounded by a lagoon which acts as a nursery for fish before the sea suddenly descends several kilometres down to the depths. According to Wikipedia, the foot of the volcanic mountain is 50km in diameter on the ocean floor. Massive.
- The Cook Islands have free association with NZ which means that they govern themselves but their residents have NZ passports and they use the NZ Dollar.
- The moped is the preferred mode of transport and there are plenty about.
- You can currently fly to the island direct from Los Angeles, Sydney and Auckland only.
- You cannot get lost here. If you are walking in the bush and feel lost…just head downhill. If you are not sure where your hotel is, just walk around the island.
- The prison on the island MAKES MONEY! The inmates are put to work on a farm or in making crafts (or labour for the council) and what is sold either enables the inmates to feed their families or goes back to the prison. It is an open prison and, given it is a small island, if a prisoner attempts to leave they get an immediate four year increase on their sentence. Makes you realise how backward other countries penal systems are in some respects.
What you really want to see though are some photos, so here you go…idyllic…