Jul 25, 2014

travelling to rarotonga- part 1

We loved our trip to Raro. We need to go back. Tomorrow. There's so much information and hear-say about travelling there. And here's our two cents worth about travelling with two small people to the jewel of the Pacific- Rarotonga.

Rarotonga itself

Rarotonga is one of 15 islands that form the Cook Islands. The culture of the people is very similar to our indigenous people, the Maori, and so we felt very at home. The island is small and takes only 35min to drive all the way around. Most of the people live around the edges and the middle is very mountainous.

It's always warm and often rainy. It's very laid back and everything is on "island time". Nothing is a problem and the people are super friendly. You can use New Zealand currency and everyone speaks English. It's paradise...

Getting there

You can either fly Air New Zealand or Virgin Australia. Air New Zealand is more expensive but depart and lands in hours that are decent to the human soul. Virgin is cheaper/ no frills and departs and lands in hours that no human being should have to cope with. We chose Virgin as it was cheaper and thought that we would have more day time in Raro.

Good in theory but we were so zonked out the first full day by arriving in the wee hours that our the day was a little wasted. Our last day was spent anticipating leaving and then packing so was also a little wasted. The flight back was hell on wheels. Waking the kids to get to the airport at 11.30pm and then checking in and waiting until 2am to board sucked the marrow from my bones. The flight was packed and while the kids were troopers, it was unpleasant. Next time we'll pay the extra and fly Air New Zealand.

Plus Virgin is a no frills airline. Nothing wrong with that but for the love of Job read the fine print on your ticket. 23 kg per piece per person is not the same as an allocation of 23kg per person. Each bag can only be 23kg. This meant repacking our entire luggage load on the airport floor to redistribute the weight. Plus the purchase of a new bag at the airport so we each had a luggage piece. I had no issue with this as it's a no frills airline and was stated on the ticket but flying Virgin means zero flexibility.

Getting around

We hired a car to get around for 4 days. This was great as we could all get in and go. It was especially great as some of the week was rainy in varying degrees from a drizzle to a torrential rain storm. Despite what anyone tells you, you are able to drive on a New Zealand drivers license.

Most people hire scooter motorbikes and use those. No helmets are required (yikes) and the speed limit is 50km around the whole island. You do need a motorbike license but you can get one really easily in the town.

Next time, if the weather forecast is fine we will get scooters and put the kids on the back. We will all be in helmets! The islanders put tiny kids sans helmets on the back of their scooters and drive really slowly. You don't truly need a car and certainly not for 4 days as there is not a huge amount to see on the island. But if it buckets down with rain, a car is lovely.

What to do

Swim and chillax. Pretty much that's it.

If you still would like to do something and you haven't been before then travel around the island and possibly take the bus. There are two bus routes "clockwise" and "anti-clockwise". This is all the buses say on the front. So if you would like to travel clockwise around the island wait for the clockwise bus... This seems fool proof but even after checking twice we got on the clockwise bus instead of the anti-clockwise bus and took the long route around the island to town. The long route took half an hour so wasn't too bad!

Lots of people recommend visting the resorts and using their facilities. We didn't do this. Meh, we were in slug mode.

The market in town on Saturday morning is worth a visit. My Mom and I left the kids at the resort with MJ as they would have been bored in two seconds flat. I had a wonderful couple of hours wandering the stalls, eating waffles and ice cream and watching the traditional dancing.

There is a botanical garden of sorts which is lovely to visit. The kiddies would have expired from boredom as per the market experience so I went with my Mom.

We did get to visit the hospital with my mom and a bladder infection. It's high on a hill (out of the tsunami zone) and was built for an outbreak of tuberculosis back in the day. I can tell you the view is excellent and the hospital really clean. The waiting time was zilch and the doctors responsive and friendly.

Seriously all that's left is to relax, read, eat, snorkel and perhaps take a cruise on the lagoon. We could not tear the kids away from the pool and beach so spent most of our time poolside. It was bliss.

Utter and absolute bliss.

Part two follows with:
Where to stay
Kids in Raro.

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