Paradise Islands - Again!!

Trip Start Feb 07, 2005
Trip End Aug 24, 2005

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Flag of Cook Islands  ,
Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Welcome to the South Pacific Islands,

Bobby and I arrived at stupid o'clock in the morning with no where pre-arranged as per, so we were relieved to be greeted by one of the island's more enigmatic characters - Piri Purato III. He was offering us the cheapest accommodation on the island, and although I had my doubts over the standard we were about to encounter, at that time, we really didn't have much choice. It was as basic as basic can be, but it would have to do, at this stage in the trip, the budget was too close to zero to complain.

The next morning, Rob and I woke really late, totally knackered from the night before and the weather wasn't too great. It stayed over cast and miserable for the next couple of days, getting progressively worse each day until we were in the middle of a tropical storm. We had hired bicylces and became stranded in the middle of this storm, Rob skidded off his bike and two locals took pity upon us and put us up in their work shed until the rain died down.

Eventually, the weather broke and we were able to go off and explore the island. The centre of the island consists of mountains covered in lush greenery, they are circled by a 32km road that clings to the coast line, overlooking golden beaches and the turquoise reef and lagoon. In the sun, Rarotonga is the epitome of Paradise with its vibrant colours, laid back people and palm trees.

One of the activities that Bobby and I did was the cross island walk. We cycled into town to return the bikes and decided to come back across country through the mountain ranges. The sun was still high in the sky and we didn't have much of a clue about the route we should be taking. However, we long ago learnt that it's generally a much better experience if you 'free-style' it! So we made our way and for the best part the track was obvious until almost half way up where the track split into 3. We chose the middle and proceded to climb the mountain before us, it just seemed like the right thing to do and we struck lucky, we made it to the top where there were a further 3 routes. We followed one track to get us to the Needle - a huge rock formation visible from the coast road. We were followed by a rooster who was seemingly happy with our company, the bloody thing wouldnt leave us alone until we reached back to the junction and here we went wrong, so very wrong!! We trekked across, up and down vertical cliff faces and ridges. We were both sweating bucket loads by now, the sun was starting to go down for the night giving us about an hour or so to get down. We eventually came to one cliff face that offered no solid ground to come down along so we had to 'surf' or 'ski' our way down. Bobby went first clinging to tree roots, rocks and vines to stop from falling. I followed after him but all the loose stones were sent flailing down after him in a mini avalanche only narrowly missing his head as he took cover behind a tree!! Eventually we reached the waterfall only a few hundred metres away from where we were staying, just as dusk was falling.

Other awesome things we did:
Rarotonga has a jet blast area that always has people waiting at as an aeroplane lands. It lies at the start of the sea wall in the north east of the island and when a plane flies in, it is literally only about 10 metres above your head, check out the video!!

We were fortunate enough to be there in time to watch a rugby world cup qualifier between Rarotonga and Niue, both teams had recently beaten Tahiti and so a result was important to both sides. The conditions were perfect; the sun was shining, the wind was non-existent and we were in the mood for a few beers so we really couldn't have asked for more. An under 18s cup competition final was being played before the main fixture and these boys were built big. The international players were huge!! They lined up for their respective national anthems before both teams stood opposite each other and carried out their respective 'Hakas'. It was an awesome sight with the crowd - a few hundred people - screaming. It was a great game to watch with Rarotonga coming out on top 24 - 5. Following the match, we headed into town and that night myself and a guy we'd met at Piri's place, Chris, went out on the drink and ended up coincidently meeting up with the first XV at their after match presentation dinner. we spent the evening with them before heading back. Chris hitched a ride whilst I cycled completely bladdered. I came off my bike on numerous occassions and was pulled over by the police for not having any lights on a rental bike!! All good fun!!
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