Why New Zealand? And I answer with another question, who does not dream of going to New Zealand? Well, it may seem a somewhat atypical destination for a honeymoon. At least for a large part of society that relates this trip with relaxation, sun, and beach. In our case what most strikes us is the adventure, to see new places that leave us speechless, nature, especially if it is mixed with physical activity. Considering these factors, New Zealand fitted our goals perfectly.
On a personal level I add that I wanted to discover Middle-earth. Do I need to add more? It is true that those goals I spoke about are a bit stronger in me than in my partner. So I had to give up a day for that of beach, relaxation and sun. It at once translated into visiting the Cook Islands, so we are all happy!
Day 1: Flight to New Zealand
Nobody will be caught by surprise if I tell that the flight is long and tiring, right? Well, I still confirm it. In our case we traveled at a comfortable hour in the evening that already invited us to be in dream as soon as dinner was served. In total it can be translated into Thor 2, and the complete Hobbit trilogy, to get more than familiar to Middle Earth. We landed there at 10:30 am. It is good time to start the adventure!
After a bit of confusion and waiting to contact the agency, they finally took us to their headquarters, near the airport. How could it be otherwise? There is overcast sky, and sporadic rain. We are also happy to meet you New Zealand!
Once the paperwork was done, the first moment of truth came, to get behind the wheel. Surprisingly I did it better than expected. So the next thing was to fill the tank at the gas station that was the cheapest on the whole north island and head to Matamata.
The trip was not very long, especially because part of it was done by highway, a luxury for a country like New Zealand, whose roads are mainly national. In fact we did not step on a highway again in the following days.
Once we left the same we stopped to eat a chicken in a roadside restaurant. A few km later we took a few provisions in a road market, and the first New Zealand dollars are spent.
At mid-afternoon we arrived in Matamata. We went directly to the site, which was already closed, but we saw a beautiful and large parking lot next to it. At the end of it had one of those wonderful and clean public restrooms spread throughout New Zealand. We had found our place to spend the first night!
It was the night that arrived prematurely, as we did not even have the strength to go around the town. The fatigue of the trip and a little jet lag plunged us into a deep sleep at around 5:00 pm. We had to recover well, as the next day we will have the first real contact with Middle Earth.
Day 2: Flight to Rarotonga
We got up at 5:30 and we were at 6:30 to return the car with enough time to catch our flight. We were very early as I say. There was only one other couple and it took us a while to return the car, between which they check the gasoline and any possible damage that could have occurred.
With a mixture of feelings we went to our next destination, the Cook Islands. We caught our flight early. At 8:45 in the morning we left Auckland in the direction of Rarotonga. The flight was very comfortable. As a curiosity, it was the first time I saw that we could order food and drink through the individual touch screen.
For the rest it was a quiet flight, with good views of the Pacific Ocean at all times. In the flight it is the first time I saw the windows that darken automatically, in this case a bluish tone. As if from a trip to the past it was about 13:35 we arrived at the international airport of Rarotonga. Do not confuse the name, as the largest airport in the Cook Islands is rather small.
Rarotonga received us with a pretty good day. We did not know what awaited us the rest of the days. After the immigration procedures, much simpler than we were used to in New Zealand, we picked up our suitcase and went to the terminal. Our driver was waiting for us to take us to our accommodation in Rarotonga.
When we arrived we met the owner of the establishment, through which we were able to book a Quads activity for our last day. We decided to put on the swimwear, take the kayak and go to explore the lagoon of Muri Beach. We wanted to take advantage of the light and that was more or less clear with some threatening clouds.
Since it was a bit cloudy, we do not need to protect ourselves from the sun. When we returned from our walk through the kayak, I must say that we are quite bad at this paddling. It is a pity the light that was there as the clouds were making an appearance more and more. What I can tell you is that the place is magical. With the sun it is spectacular, but few things take away the beauty of this island.
As this first day we had no means of transportation yet. We booked dinner at the beach. We dined quite well, because the restaurant is on the same beach. There was live music that entertained us during dinner.
What we had seen so far we liked a lot. We had managed to disconnect completely and all the hustle and bustle, trekking, hiking and long tours of New Zealand seemed a distant memory.
We went to sleep in paradise.
Day 3: Avarua
During the night we came listening to the rain, but unconsciously I associated it with a dream. When I got up I could see the reality, the one with the red octopus was falling.
All the good luck we had in New Zealand was getting twisted in Cook Islands. In our accommodation, breakfast is brought to our room based on what we ordered the day before among a series of possibilities that wear given. They bring us some fresh pastries, bread and eggs that we cook ourselves. So our morning started as cooks preparing a good breakfast.
When we finished breakfast we were picked up from the car rental office. They have several offices throughout the island, which I remember one in Avarua which is quite large and where we reserve, smaller, near Muri. We wanted the most basic car they had.
Our route starts at the Rarotonga International Airport. As soon as we get to Rarotonga, we will realize the profound religiosity that its people have. Before reaching Avarua, we find an information point and the Marine Park of the Cook Islands.
The beaches in this area are not the best on the island, as this area is not suitable for snorkeling. From the airport we are immediately in Avarua, the capital and the largest settlement of all the Cook Islands. We can see that much of the architecture is colonial, including the Catholic Church and some buildings that we see. We leave the main road at the Avarua roundabout and take the Takuva'ine Road to the inner road.
We take this opportunity to stop to eat. As we arrived at the afternoon we could only order a pizza in the bar they have. The restaurant was already closed. For us the next interesting point, of all Rarotonga, is the Muri area with its wonderful lagoon. This is where most of the island's accommodation is concentrated. The most interesting part of Muri is the area of the lake where the motus (Taakoka, Koromiri, Oneroa and Motutapu) are. For me the best way to explore this area, apart from a nice walk on the beach, was kayaking up to the motus.
As it was time to go to the show Te Vara Nui, we went to the apartment to wait to be picked up. We contract the long visit that starts around 5:00 pm and before the dinner show have explanations of the Polynesian customs and traditions. For a day as bad as the one we had it is a pleasant and quite entertaining visit.
In the long visit, they talk mainly about the history of the Cook Islands, the islands that compose them, their great attachment to the sea and the main navigation techniques . They have been a town of great navigators and are proud of it. In one of the rooms where explanations are made, we can see an example of a small waka (canoe), as well as different gear used for traditional fishing.
They talk about traditional medicines, as well as typical clothes from the Cook Islands. Of course, at this moment they take some unsuspecting person to the arena, usually a woman, to dress her with the typical Polynesian skirt and teach her some typical dance.
The most peculiar of the visit is the last stop when they talk about the Tree of life and everything that has to do with coconuts. After the visit we pass to the area where the show is seen. At this moment many more people are there, all those who have not come to the cultural experience.
The food is good and we have a great variety of meat, fish, salads and typical dishes. The show is based on the Legend of Tonga-iti, transmitted from generation to generation by its tupunas. The show is done in the lake on floating surfaces and boats. We liked the show of dancing, fire and music a lot and we had a very good time. Around 10:30 p.m. we leave and arrived at the accommodation. We saw a romantic movie of the many DVDs that they have and we went to bed with our lips and hips tucked in each other.
Day 4: Motutapu
We had some hope of having better weather today and thus be able to enjoy our last day in Rarotonga as this island deserves. The day dawned cloudy like the previous one. So we are glad to have hired the excursion in Quads for that day, which can be done even if it rains. The starting point of the tour is the hotel.
From the beginning we realize that everything is a little precarious. I asked the guide who came to the end of the group if I can change the Quad. He asked me not to think about it and released the Quad. With the new Quad it was something else. I looked at the guide and he told me that nothing was wrong,. Everything went well for a while and we arrived at the first stop of the excursion at the end of the Vana Stream where there are some of the water tanks that supply the island.
After this stop the problems with the new Quad returned. Now it was not possible to start it. Finally the guide was able to put it into operation but that already smelled bad to me since it seemed that it was going to permeate every moment. We retraced the path that we had made way to the second valley. We were going to visit until suddenly the Quad came back to stop and why not guess where it stopped? Well, of course, following Murphy's Law, the Quad stopped in the middle of one of the rivers that crossed the route and stayed there. When I saw the man trying to start the Quad in the purest style, I realized that he had the same idea of Quads and his mechanics as I did of Quantum Physics.
It's a good thing it did not last long because suddenly we saw the other guide return. I changed the Quad, third of the day, to drag the defective Quad. Soon we arrived with the rest of the group. They changed my Quad again and it sounded a bit like a joke. From here the route was normal, without sudden starts or stops, or having to tow anyone. We toured Turangi Stream and at the end of it we went back to make a stop.
At the end of the tour they take us to the cafe where they invite us to one of their famous fish or chicken sandwiches and a soft drink. The cafe is in the northern part of the Muri Lagoon, in Avana Harbor, in front of the Motutapu. It is a good fishing spot on the island from where there are also some boats to rent to go fishing.
From there we returned to the starting point of the tour and they take us to our accommodation. As it was still half a day we decided to go to Avarua. The coins are only valid in the Cook Islands, although they are very interesting to collect.
That day to eat we chose the restaurant of the hotel. The place is nice and we eat well. For the first time since the day we arrived we started to see the sun a little and it is amazing how the island changes and the water color of the lagoon with a different light.
With the best time we had in the three days we were in Raro and how could it be otherwise! We went for a walk around Muri, from the Rumors to the Avana Estuary area. It was one of the best moments on the island On our walk along the beach we saw the celebration of a wedding in Muri. Is not it a bad place to get married?
At last we have a nice walk in Rarotonga watching the sun! Our stay in Rarotonga had not been the best due to the weather. However, we had done very interesting things like the excursion in Quads or the Te Vara Nui show. The beauty of the island is undoubted, both in the lagoon and in the mountainous interior.
For dinner we were guided by the guide and recommendations of the owners of the Rumors and went to the west coast of the island, Arorangi. It is a nice place run by Filipinos. As we went at night we could not enjoy the views.
Day 5: Aitutaki
Our adventure in Rarotonga was coming to an end, but another one was beginning. Our flight left at 10:30. The flight is very comfortable. From the air we can already check two things. Aitutaki is unique and the weather has improved a lot. The Aitutaki Airport is even smaller.
Once at the hotel we could see that we were already in paradise. When we already settled in the room and unloaded all the luggage we went to reception to organize the excursion for the next day's lagoon and the rent of a scooter. The rental of the scooter was easier since the hotel has a small "fleet" of them.
So we simply took our motorbike and headed from the hotel to the highest point of the island, Mount Maungapu. The views from this point are simply without words. We cannot stop admiring the landscape and the views. From the Maungapu we went to explore a little more to the north of the island. We try to eat in the Ootu Beach area, but we did not have luck since we were in holiday period.
As we could not stay in that area, we returned to the hotel to have a drink at the pool bar. We decided that day to snorkel in the lagoon in front of the hotel. It is not the best point on the island as we could see later, but we enjoyed it a lot and saw a lot of fish.
After a quick shower and we returned to take our scooter to visit in this case the southern part of the island, passing through Arutanga.
After our visit to the southern part of the Island we returned to the hotel to dine and enjoy the last moments of light.
Day 6: Rapota
The expected day of our trip to the Cook Islands arrived! It is the visit to the lagoon of Aitutaki. No matter how many people tell, for many photos that you see, you will not have an idea of what it is, until you see it your own eyes.
We had breakfast at the hotel and quickly went to reception to be picked up. The tour departs from Arutanga around 9:00 am. The first island we visited is Rapota. The excursion starts very well, with good weather, some clouds that are even appreciated so that the sun does not squeeze so much.
Do you know the typical photos of travel or postal catalogs that we usually see and wonder where they are from? I give you a clue where they can be. Rapota Island was used in a British reality show. The photos that we could take during the time we were on the island are simply postcard.
The second island we visited was Moturakau. One of the smallest islands we visited, smaller than Rapota. It was also used in the British reality. We were able to cross the island from one end to the other walking through the lush vegetation of it.
Both this island and Rapota are of volcanic origin. On this island they told us the legend of a father and a daughter who hid in a cave on the island before the arrival of their enemies. It was the birds, who nest on the island, who warned them of the arrival of the enemies.
The third island or rather sandbar is called Heaven Island. It has no vegetation and is only famous for being used in an Australian television program. The next stop is one of the tops of the tour, Tapuaetai or better known by One Foot Island.
There is a well-known legend on this island that gives it its name One Foot. Some say that the name acquires it in its way reminiscent of a foot, but it is not like that at all. The legend begins with a father and son fishing in their canoe when their village is attacked by enemies. The father went to the nearest island to hide. The father to hide walked in the footsteps of his son, in order to make it appear that there was only one person. When the warriors arrived on the island, thinking that there was only one person, they killed the father and left the son who had hidden by climbing a tree. That's where the name of the island comes from, the last sacrifice a father made for his son.
Tekopua is the largest island of the 22 that form Aitutaki, regardless of the main one. We arrived at Honeymoon Island. This island started to be called after a Canadian couple who decided to get married there. I can not think of a better place on the planet than the Aitutaki lagoon and this island in particular.
Honeymoon is very used to practice Kitesurf and we could see a few enjoying. It is a protected island because there is a kind of bird that lays its eggs in it and as we can see it is very special. The last jewel of the day was Maina, a coral island that translated means warmed by the wreck who arrived on the island and warmed up on the beach thanks to the sun's rays.
It began to cloud a bit and even rained a little while we ate. Luckily we were covered. The food is prepared by Captain Fantastic and a woman who accompanies us during the excursion. I must say that I was surprised for good.
We were lucky because the rain lasted as long as we ate and so we could go snorkeling with better weather. They take us to two points, one in the lagoon where we see lots of fish of all kinds. The second point in the reserve is characterized because we can see the giant clams in an area of crystalline water of greater depth in the reserve. Both are great but I'll take the first one because of the amount of fish we had the chance to see.
It had been a spectacular tour of the lagoon. At about 3:00 in the afternoon we returned to Arutanga. They left us at the hotel and we rest a bit. It's amazing how the sun hit us.
We went back to take the bike to tour the island. I would never tire of going through Aitutaki and feel the sensation of freedom. It was Sunday so the island was very quiet and the main sites closed. The premises were gathered in the main church of Arutanga.
We have dinner and close our eyes with our lips and hands exploring all over each other.
Day 7: Arutanga
Today was our last day in Aitutaki and therefore in the paradise of the Cook Islands. After breakfast, I went to try to hire another cruise on the lagoon to return to One Foot Island and Honeymoon. I looked for any company or a friendly fisherman who offered to take us to those two islands. I approached Arutanga to the information office but it was impossible to find any company. At the dock they indicated that there were no boats available. We return to the hotel to have some pleasure in the pool.
We asked for a good place to snorkel in Aitutaki. Before going snorkeling, we headed to the Aitutaki Lagoon area to enjoy the lagoon and its turquoise color. I think it's the best place in the world to disconnect and get lost. We saw a lot of people doing paddle surfing.
After enjoying the lagoon for a while we went snorkeling. After a couple of hours and we just stopped to go eat. After eating we return to the hotel to enjoy the spa.
Our stay came to an end Everything good has a final point but we never want it to come and less when we are in a place as special as Aitutaki. We said goodbye to the island with a good dinner and Aitutaki gave us one last postcard photo.
Day 8: Honeymoon Over New Zealand
We woke up a little sad for the idea that the trip was over and at the same time wanting to return home after almost a month away in what can be defined as the trip of our life. We had time for a quick breakfast and the hotel's free transfer service took us to the airport. Being such a small airport, everything goes very fast and boarding is easy.
We had a "long" stopover in Rarotonga of over 4 hours. We arrived at the Punanga Nui Market area where we had a quiet drink with sea views at the cafe and headed back to the airport. As it was lunchtime we stopped at a place very close to the airport. It is a small cafe on the Ara Tapu road run by a couple that serves some great sweet and salty pancakes.
We left at 3:00 p.m. Now yes, the trip was over. We had more than a day of flights and airports, but that served as a starting point to think about new destinations.