After approx 500 nm, catching 3 tuna and having a whale surface right beside us we arrived into Aitutaki with its shallow narrow pass and small harbor basin. We anchored in a small channel towards the reef until space in the harbor freed up allowing us to tie stern to a few coconut trees, making it a lot easier to get ashore and do things.
The Cook Islands is closely tied to New Zealand (NZ) and you definitely see it in the food, accents, currency and culture. After being in French Polynesia it was strange meeting the Islanders whose language is Cook Islands Maori but almost everyone speaks English with a New Zealand accent. Checking in was very easy but a lot more expensive that we thought it was going to be. In NZ$s: $20 to biosecurity (and fresh fruit & vege removed from boat) $25 to health, $57 to customs, $69/ person to immigration and a $5/night anchoring fee. Oh well we’re in the islands, Time to enjoy!
Aitutaki is a really clean place with colorful homes, well manicured yards and small communities dotted around the island. The population is approx 1500 and we found everyone very friendly and relaxed waving out or stopping to say hello. We loved seeing Grandma driving a scooter waving to us as she went by.
Our bikes once again came in handy for getting out and seeing the island & lagoon and going for lunch at some of the hot spots around the island. With it taking us 1.5-2 hours to get around the main road of Aitutaki on relatively flat roads it was good exercise every day.
At night you can hear the drums beating up the hill as they practice for the various island dances scattered around the resorts. We went to Temanu Beach Resort on Thursday night for their Island fire dance, which was good fun.
Friday afternoons all the local rugby teams arrive to play and with the field being right beside the harbor basin we could wander over to watch the action. Long time since we have seen live rugby.
Kevin & Pam from Cambridge, NZ were on holiday and we ran into them all over the island. They wondered who these crazy people were traveling on a boat so we invited them over for cocktails aboard. I think they left very happy knowing they are and will remain “landlubbers”.
We met Greg & Ingrid from NZ who live in Aitutaki for non cyclone season. They invited us over for drinks, great stories and ceviche on their balcony. Yum! We then reciprocated and also met their NZ friends Ida & Chris. Kiwis are just so friendly and it’s nice to be back in this part of the world.
Our friends Aline & Luc from S/V Oceana1 arrived so we couldn’t resist taking them to the Heineken store for NZ “Dads Pies” and Tip Top Ice-cream to catch up. Very tasty NZ treats!
Sundays are a day of rest with the various churches being the busiest places in town and everyone dressing in their best clothes and hats. Sitting in the oldest church (dated 1821) listening to the singing was wonderful as the acoustics was impressive and you could see and hear that these people like to sing.
We took the dinghys out to Maina Motu for lunch on the Sunday as town was closed and the lagoon tour companies were not there. It’s a small island with nice white coral sand that you can walk around spotting lots of baby birds about and crystal clear shallow water.
Off the neighboring motu called Honeymoon we watched kite surfers out enjoying the winds and flat seas. At one point we counted more than 30 kite boarders.
This was definitely a lovely relaxing place to stop with good protection for some strong winds we had. It’s getting time to move on to Beveridge Reef and then Niue before the weather does its full cycle again.