Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bye Bye Pacific

Checking out of Beachcomber we walked across the road to Island Car Rentals and hired a car for our three remaining days on Rarotonga. The car was a super cute little Nissan March, although it was a little bit rattly. I think being so low to the ground after the van we had in New Zealand threw Gemma a bit. We went up to the airport to get our tickets revalidated for our journey to the USA. They tried to charge us for the revalidation again but we moaned so much that she waived the fee. Indignant about it, I went in to town and resent my complaint to Air New Zealand.

We’d managed to book another place, Puiakura Reef Lodges, for our remaining time, again via Although cheaper and a little bit shabbier than Beachcomber the room was nice enough with a separate bedroom and living/kitchen areas.

We charged around the South of the island in the car for some of the morning and early afternoon. The tide was wrong for snorkelling so we had a walk on the beach, taking along a couple of blocks of fish food that we’d picked up earlier on. The lagoon in front of Puiakura Reef Lodges is probably about midway to the width that it gets to on the island. We waded out into the beautifully clear water, chucking our fish food blocks in. We did manage to entice a couple of fish in to eat the food, but not many. Two dogs jumped in next to us and swam across the water to where they could stand up on the reef then proceeded to chase the fish that they saw darting around. I could have watched them for hours.

We were suddenly awoken at 01:00 by the arrival of a new group of people to the hotel. They continued loudly talking and laughing for at least another hour, with no consideration that anyone else might be staying there and wanting to sleep. Why is it that whenever there is a group of more than three women together they turn into cackling harpies? I lost my rag and yelled, ‘Shut up!’ at the top of my voice. I don’t know whether they heard or not but about a minute later they all filed off to their rooms. That screwed my sleep up for the rest of the night. I sat stewing about it and contemplated going to the car and blasting the horn at 05:00 but realised that would be petty of me.

When I finally dragged my sorry tired self out of bed we hopped in the car and set off anti-clockwise. Gemma had read about Whigmore’s waterfall, supposedly a beautiful spot. Maybe once upon a time but the falls didn’t appear to be running when we arrived. Instead there was a stagnant pool and some slime covered rocks. I think that the island may use the waterfall as a water source now, which could explain the lack of falling water. The non-falling falls are up a road that sits next to an abandoned Sheraton resort complex. I read somewhere that the deal fell through part-way through building the complex leaving the Cook Islands government in quite serious debt. We stopped in town for a coffee and to sort one or two things out, before returning to Kavera.

The tide was on it’s way out when we got to the beach. We’d brought some bread and stood in the shallows breaking off chunks and throwing them out into the water. This time we attracted many more fish and were able to persuade them to come quite close. The triggerfish in particular were bold in their pursuit of a meal. Unfortunately, as the sun came out, I began feeling a little ill, so I left Gemma to the beach whilst I had a lie down.

I felt refreshed after my little nap and so in the evening we drove into town. Gemma had read in the guidebook that several bars have live music on. We couldn’t really find evidence of any hip and happening nightlife. We had a couple of beers at Trader Jacks and fish and chips from the shop at the harbour. Whilst eating we watched a tender plying passengers back and forth from The World, the large cruise ship anchored just off Avarua.

In the morning we awoke to the blue skies and sun that we’d been longing for. Our first stop was the beach across the road from our accommodation for some snorkelling in the lagoon. We found a spot with a wide cut-out in the limestone. We did see a few fish, but nothing spectacular. We decided to hop in the car and make for one of the snorkelling spots marked on our map. A small café, Fruits of Rarotonga, sits opposite the beach. We were only about ankle deep before we noticed a wealth of fish. The spot was excellent. The coral wasn’t great, there were patches on the limestone reef, but the sheer number of fish was amazing. We had a very nice time drifting through the channels in the limestone and following the schools of fish.

After lunch we took advantage of the continuing good weather and had a drive round the island. There is a small botanic gardens with an attached café. We stopped for a drink, although somehow Gemma’s desire for a drink mutated into a desire for a cake when she saw the menu. All full of cake and coffee respectively we took a walk through the gardens, snapping photos of the flowers. I love the flowers of the tropics, Hibiscus and Frangipani especially.

Muri beach, where we’d stayed earlier and had bad weather, was packed. A set of outrigger canoe races was happening and a lot of people had turned out to compete, to watch and to generally soak up the sun. We continued round the island and stopped at Trader Jacks in town for a beer.

In the morning we checked out, took the car back and settled in town for a fun packed day of waiting for our 22:20 flight. Urgh.

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