We took off from Auckland at 4:20pm on Saturday 30th January. After a 3.5 hour flight we landed in Rarotonga at 8:50pm on Friday January 29th. We are time travellers… Although read on to find out why John preferred January 30th better the first time around.
Your first greeting after landing in The Cook Islands is Kia Orana which means ‘May you live long’.
Immigration was very simple, they check your landing cards, ask to see proof of your onward travel from The Cook Islands and ask to see any food items brought into the country. The airport is probably the smallest international airport you could ever imagine to see. We collected our bags and went through to meet Henry, our airport pickup. To our delight we were given flower garlands when we landed which really made us feel like we were had arrived in tropical paradise.
We rented a studio apartment at Muri Beach for our 8 nights in paradise. Our driver dropped us off after about 30 minutes and we were both ecstatic to be in the same place for 9 days. Our studio apartment was very modern, clean and the host had left us a breakfast pack containing bread, passion fruit, muesli, tea & coffee, which was handy considering our late night arrival.
On Saturday we ventured to Punanga Nui Market, we hailed down a bus at the end of the driveway, paying $16 return for us both. The market was very small considering it is one of the main things to do on the island, lots of residents gather to sell fresh fruit and home cooked dishes which all smelt divine. We purchased some bananas and a coconut and took shelter from the searing heat. We headed back to our apartment and spent the afternoon walking into town to buy some food and at Muri Lagoon. Muri Lagoon currently has an Algae problem which residents are trying to rectify, it does spoil the experience of swimming in the warm waters and exploring the coral. The Algae not only looks disgusting, it feels it when it gets tangled in your legs!
After a lamb dinner John suddenly realised his bag was missing, we searched high and low for over an hour, retracing his steps (I had left him at the beach whilst I started dinner), turning the apartment upside down and found nothing. We feared the worst and John set an alarm for 6am to go back to the beach when it was light to look again. There wasn’t much in the bag apart from our underwater camera which contained lots of undownloaded memories from our trip. We spent most of our Sunday going over where it could possibly be, when I went outside to look again. I was looking through next doors fence when I spotted something on the ground that resembled the bag, john stood on a log and confirmed it was indeed the missing bag, contents untouched!! After speaking to our hosts the only explanation for it was next doors pesky dog which is renowned for running off with all sorts from the beach. Feeling thankful for its safe return we decided to eat out at the night market, which runs on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We shared a tasty coconut chicken curry and chicken skewers with mushroom sauce, followed by a reward piece of chocolate cake for finding the bag!
Whilst on the beach that morning I had met 2 German ladies and asked if they had found anything on the beach, we bumped into them again that evening and spent a while chatting to them about what to do on the island, as they had both visited several times with one of them staying for 8 weeks each winter! They gave us some great tips for the rest of our week and we left feeling excited about what our week would bring.