Atiu Island


We’ve been lucky to spend a week of our winter on Atiu, which  is a small island three-quarters of an hour’s flight north-east from Rarotonga in the southern Cook Island group.  It’s a volcanic island 11 million years old, with a central plateau slowly rising from the sea,  a raised fossil coral border (makatea), and a narrow coral reef and small sandy coves around its coastline.  The island is covered with tropical rain forest, with swampy areas inside the makatea used for taro growing.  The population of 450 live in five villages grouped around the centre of the island, which has a coral  coastal road  and a few inland links. We stayed at Atiu Villas, built by Roger Malcolm from local timbers, and set in Kura Malcolm’s tropical gardens.


There are only forty-seven potential tourist beds at present, and the villagers are determined to hold fast to their culture and beliefs while welcoming a few visitors.  We unexpectedly arrived in the Cook Islands in the middle of Te Maeve Nui – the celebrations for their becoming independent of New Zealand 49 years ago. So locals on Atiu, like those in Rarotonga, were celebrating with parades, song and dance festivals.

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  1. Cynthia Roberts says

    Delightful photos of a special place and experience

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