Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands and is where government resides. Circular and..Aitutaki Information
A visit to the Cook Islands is not complete without seeing the beautiful island of Aitutaki, which..Mangaia Information
To experience Mangaia is to feel the true warmth of the people, past and present. Mangaia is the..Mauke Information
Mauke takes its name from the legendary founder ‘Uke who came to the island in search of a..Manuae Information
Manuae, is a peaceful sanctuary and lies 102 kilometeres south-east of Aitutaki. this now unhabited..Mitiaro Information
Of the cluster of islands in the Southern Group called Nga Pu Toru (Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke), this..Palmerston Information
The unique social fabric of this atoll arises from the last century when Englishman William..Takutea Information
Takutea, a sanctuary declared to protect the breeding site of a number of seabirds, lies 50 miles..See all locations in Southern Group
Atiu - the island of birds and legends - is the third largest in the group, forming part of the Southern section of the Cook Islands. Atiu is a small volcanic island, with central elevated flat-topped mass of volcanic rock surrounded by a raised coral limestone reef called a Makatea. The makatea runs around the island ranging in width from anywhere between 50 to 100 metres. Low cliffs, 3 to 6 metres high surround the island, but there are many recesses in which small sandy coves are found.
It is a fascinating destination, riddled with caves, maketea, raised coral atoll, cliffs, and white sand beaches. Orovaru Beach is where Captain James Cook landed in 1777. The barrier reef lies close to the shore and the four main villages - Areroa, Tengatangi, Mapumai and Teenui - are grouped together on a central plateau some 71 metres above sea level. A road extending 20 kilometres around the islands is the best means by which to explore. Learn the legend of lovers Inutoto and Tangaroa and their association with Anatakitaki Cave, which is spectacularly adorned with stalagmites, stalactites and also home to the Kopeka bird. Visit Raka’s Cave with its fifteen different chambers and your guide will tell you about the many generations of the Rakanui family who have lived and died in this magnificent hideaway, inside the island’s lush rain forest.
Atiu enjoys a pleasant climate all year round that is perfect for the bountiful bird population that it supports. Most of the birds live in the Makatea Forest found on the costal area of Atiu. One of the most unusual birds is the Kopeka, that lives permanently inside the limestone caves. They are never seen anywhere else. Located 16 kilometres northwest of Atiu is Takutea a Sanctuary, supporting such exotic birds as the Tavake, White Capped Noddy, the Great Frigate and the Brown Bobby - a visit here is highly recommended. Perhaps the most well-known is the Kopeka (Atiu swiftlet) which builds its nest deep inside limestone caves and navigates like a bat in total darkness by sonar. Other birds to look out for are the endangered Kakerori (Rarotonga flycatcher) which has recently been introduced to predator free Atiu from Rarotonga and the Moo ( pronounced Maw-aw) a family memeber of the New Zealand Notornis or Pukeko.
A small restaurant trade is developeing in Atiu so when visting ask the locals about any new eateries - Kura's Kitchen which is found on location at Atiu Villas is worth a visit. Kura's Kitchen and bar is open every day of the week except Sunday. Visitors should change money in Rarotonga before travelling to Atiu. Shopping is limited but there are a few small dairy stores, and locals sell crafts from home. Another local custom to take part in is trying bush beer, Tumanu, a local brew made from imported yeast, sugar hops and malt.
Air Rarotonga operates regular flights to Atiu, which is 50 minutes by air to the northeast of Rarotonga. It is a small island surrounded by a close reef and shallow lagoon, with numerous secluded white sandy coves and little beaches. Rain forest and crops grow profusely on its raised, fertile volcanic centre.
Like several of the Southern Group islands, Atiu has several caves embedded in its Makatea (fossilised raised coral) and tours through these are a popular activity.
The reef is a rich source of food for local people, who can be seen gathering dinner at low tide. Out on the ocean you will see Atiu from a different and appealing perspective. Fishing tours on well equipped boats offer a chance to experience incredibly clear indigo blue waters while you try your hand at catching a BBQ dinner from a well stocked ocean.
There are many interesting facets to Atiu life and much that will appeal to the visitor. Traditional fibre arts using tapa cloth, (from the bark of trees) has survived here and village women produce wonderful tapa flowers. Tivaevae (a type of patchwork quilting) with its vibrant coloured patterns is also highly valued and a popular creative pastime, as is the carving of traditional drums, bowls and ornaments. And, the Cook Islands finest ukuleles originate in Atiu, crafted from local timbers. Above all, visitors should take time out to enjoy the local coffee, which is world class.