Cook Islands – The stuff of Pacific dreams

Cook Islands – The stuff of Pacific dreams

Last update: 20 January 2021

The Cook Islands are the stuff of Pacific dreams. White, sandy, coconut-strewn palm beaches, translucent lagoons in all shades of shimmering blue, and a laid-back atmosphere where everything just circulates on island time.

But there are also craggy peaks beckoning in the interior of Rarotonga, the main island. Most notably The Needle sticking out in the middle, Te Rua Manga. You can explore it on a walking track across the island.

Lost in the jungle of Rarotonga

The Rarotonga Cross-Island track was quite an adventurous route. I almost got lost in the thick jungle, crossing a bewildering amount of streams where the track was barely recognizable at some points. Luckily I had borrowed a local booklet, describing the route with pictures of significant trees and rocks along the intertwining tracks. This turned out to be very helpful…

Eventually I emerged out of the bush on the other end 🙂

Rarotonga Cross-Island track, Cook Islands
The Rarotonga Cross-Island track. Follow the orange triangles – although they sometimes seem to disappear…

Rarotonga Cross-Island Track

The track starts just outside the main town Avarua on the north side of the island and ends at the Wigmore Waterfall, near the village Vaimaanga Tapere on the south coast. It takes about 3 to 4 hours (if you don’t get lost…) and it’s strongly recommended to do this walk from north to south only.

On the southern part the track is a lot trickier to folllow, as it’s much more overgrown and the elusive orange markers are less obvious to spot. It’s also nicer to finish at the blissful waterfall and natural pool at the end of the hike! 😉

Te Rua Manga peak, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The distinctive Te Rua Manga peak, in the jungle interior of Rarotonga.

Rarotonga (Cook Islands) map

This handy interactive map shows the locations in the pictures above, as well as the Cross-Island Track. You can also click on the icons, and zoom in for more details of Rarotonga.

How to get to the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Tahiti. The flight from Auckland only takes 3 hours. But you will actually go back a day in time, as you fly over the international date line between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. Air New Zealand has regular flights to Rarotonga on their trans-Pacific route between Auckland and Los Angeles.

Cook Islands stopover

A stopover in Rarotonga can be arranged on a return ticket to New Zealand, or on a round-the-world ticket combination with other airlines. There are also connections from Australia and Tahiti. The Cook Islands Airports website has an overview of airlines that are currently flying to Rarotonga.

Muri Beach lagoon, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Muri Beach lagoon.

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(c) Nancy Claus – Wilderness Coffee & Natural High

Remote Islands – Rarotonga, Cook Islands

This post was originally published as NaturePic Challenge: a series of pictures of epic nature and places that will induce a natural high 😉

© All photo’s on this blog are my own, and subject to copyright (unless credited otherwise). Please contact me if you would like to use a particular picture you’ve seen in one of my articles. You’re welcome to share a link to my blog articles and pictures on social media.


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