GUEST ARTICLE: It was quite strange to land on Rarotonga (part of the Cook Islands group) at 4am in the middle of a vast seemingly endless ocean. After checking into our great find of a hotel (Club Raro) we got a few hours of shut eye before going on our first little adventure around the island.
We rented a moped and were soon scoping out the place and sights to see which is pretty much everything there.
Rarotonga is a very beautiful, lush island with the most beautifully coloured waters we’ve ever seen. The reef is also pretty special and the waves huge! One local said they can get up to 9 metres in height! It took us only an hour to drive around the whole island (32km circumference) at a whopping 40km/hr limit! Make sure you watch out for the kiddles, multitudes of dogs and chickens.
On Day 2 we had heard about a jungle trek to a place called The Needle, situated in the middle of the island.
Instead of forking over the $52 for ‘Pa’s Guided Tour’ we thought we would go on our own adventure and scope the place out … what a big friggin mistake that would turn out to be!
Everything started out pretty good, we had crystal clear blue skies, no wind, a pleasant +26C.
After parking our bike at the beginning of the path we took our bottle of water a few buns and we were on our way! At the beginning of the journey we ran into some other tourists also trying to find the same spot and we soon ended up leading the way.
The path wasn’t so bad for the first oh, maybe 50 ft but from there on it was pure jungle with an extremely steep path uphill. After 1 hour of doing the worst stairmaster of my life and almost losing both lungs the very few of us that made it emerged to the peak of the needle and took in it’s spectacular view of the island.
I have to say after seeing that it really did make it all worthwhile.
After catching our breath and taking in the view, we started talking to a couple guys who had heard of the path continuing on across to the other side of the island.
They told us that the path should lead us to a small river and we were to follow along side that to the end where there was a beautiful waterfall.
So we thought what the heck, we had found our way here no probs, why not right? So we began our trek once again across the jungle with those two guys somewhere behind us.
All seemed great until we started climbing around some hairy spots, oh yeah and one thing we seemed to have forgetten is – what goes up must come down. And down we did come, I’ve never abseiled like Tarzan before and I have to say this was something I never want to do again – at least by vines!!
Yeah, so somehow “someone” led us on the wrong #@$!*&^ path and we were forced to abseil a very steep mountain laden with tiny loose rocks, rotten vines and mud.
Grabbing at any stable small vines sticking out, using whatever fingernails we had left and some delicate ass cheek at times and treading lightly so as not to cause a rockslide on one another, we slowly made our way down.
After about an hour or so of doing this fun task, we finally made it to the bottom and found the very small river.
Now being on somewhat level ground we thought nothing could be as bad as what we had just went through…ha, ha, ha, no my friends that was not to be. Unfortunately our two fellow climbing friends ‘advice’ was somewhat misleading and there was no lovely path to follow along the river!!
After 4 hours of pushing our way through the damn jungle, my wife falling into the river getting a blackeye and being covered in mud, sweat and tears I yelled out because I saw a native!
And what do you know in the middle of the friggin jungle is this little old lady collecting chestnuts! Man you should have seen her little old face when we came up, hell I was soo friggin happy I almost picked her up and started swinging the old girl around! And lemme tell ya I probably would have if my arms weren’t draggin on the ground! Lol!!
Ah yes, I can laugh now. So, thankfully she pointed the way to freedom. On our way to the main road we came across a guy collecting coconuts for his pigs so thankfully he was kind enough to get us each one to quench our thirst and calm our tummies, unfortunately the two little buns and ‘1’ bottle of water we had didn’t quite cut it.
We were also fortunate enough to hitch a ride from a nice local lady back to our bike. On our way we came across our two ‘friends.’ We were very displeased to see them joyfully walking down the road and one in spotless white pants!!
We thanked them for their great advice and they proceeded to tell us how they could hear us ahead of them for a time and then they came across a rather perilous part and thought better than to take it and found the correct path down – just friggin lovely boys. Ah well, at least we can say we’ve trekked across the island now – Survivor bring it on baby!!
Over the next 5 days the weather turned on us for a bit but fortunately it held out enough for us to take in some local sights. We enjoyed wonderful local eats every day and on the very last day we were fortunate enough to hear the locals sing in their native tongue at their Sunday church service.
What voices!! I’ve never heard so many harmonies at once, definitely something we will never forget. I wish the weather could have been better because the snorkelling was superb and the water fairly warm. There are a number of other wonderful experiences I would love to share but then this would be a novel! Have a look at the pics!!!
This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!