Via Auckland to the Cook Islands

Via Auckland to the Cook Islands

There is no direct flight from Samoa to the Cook Islands. Well, not anymore there isn’t.. The only option is to go via Auckland, New Zealand. Hmmm.. Sounds like a huge detour. And it is. Apart from the extra stop over, you also get to cross the international dateline twice. To make things even more confusing, we did them both around midnight. So we left Samoa on October 3rd and arrived in Auckland on the 5th. So much for animal day.. After we left Auckland in the evening of the 5th, we arrived in the Cook Islands just before midnight. Of October 4th.. Sunday the 5th happened twice for us. Just like ‘Groundhog Day’…

The good thing about a stop over in the ‘civilized world’ is that you can go shopping for all those things you ran out of quite a while ago and could not get your hands on while traveling the islands; A South America travel guide (finally!). A replacement for the dead camera battery I got in Kuala Lumpur. Some new shirts and some toiletries. The bad thing about a stop over in Auckland is that it’s freezing cold there still. Well, at least compared to where we came from. We had almost forgotten that we did pack jackets and sweaters.

The Cook Islands (14,000 souls, 15 tiny islands with a total area of 241 square km and sprinkled over an area of 2 million square km of empty sea and named after the famous captain) are really far away from the ‘real’ world. They’re classic tropical islands with white beaches, clear lagoons and plenty of coconut trees. People speak Cook Island Maori and English, and usually with a New Zealand (Kiwi) accent.. Huh? Well, it used to be New Zealand territory until 1965 when they became self-governing. It won’t surprise that their currency is the kiwi dollar..

Our first couple of days on Rarotonga, the main island, we basically didn’t do much because we had to recover from our time travel experiences; lazing on the beach, reading books while keeping an eye on the lagoon.. But since then we have cycled around the island (all 32 kilometers!) and walked the cross island track (yesterday). Our Lonely Planet guide led us to believe that this (3 to 4 hours) track was perfectly doable without a guide and wouldn’t be too difficult. What it failed to mention was that it was more climbing than walking, very muddy and slippery and that there was the risk of getting your feet wet while crossing a stream multiple times. Above all, because there had been a land slide, some of the tracks had changed (chances of getting lost have risen to near 100%) and had become more difficult. We did finish it in around 4 hours after a strenuous walk which at times was not funny at all (right Miek?). We came across another couple that had started just before us but at some point decided to turn around and try a different route. We know now that that was not a smart decision so we are kind of worried that they may still be out there…

Yesterday evening was ‘Island Night’ at the Rarotongan Resort. It’s a large buffet and show with traditional music and dances. Nice albeit a bit touristy but apparently a must-see while visiting the Cook Islands. Today we took the bus again into town (Avarua) for a much needed hair cut (OMG it’s short!) and.. some shopping for black pearls. Yes.. Miek decided that she wanted authentic black pearls as souvenir from the Cook Islands. And they look great!

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