Fifteen tiny islands in paradise, that a small nation calls home
Where would someone say, “may you live long”, upon meeting you for the first time, but in the Cook Islands?
The Cook Islands greeting Kia Orana, means exactly that, “may you live long.” It’s a unique first gesture of friendship from a special Polynesian people, renown for their hospitality and warmth.
Sprinkled over 2.25 million sq km of the South Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands are like an ei (necklace) of island gems at the centre of the Polynesian Triangle.
Lying between Tahiti and Samoa, the Cook Islands consists of two main islands, Rarotonga and Aitutaki, with 13 smaller islands. All of the islands combined make up a land area of just 240 sq km.
Each of the island ‘gems’ is unlike the other and all have their own special features. From the majestic peaks of Rarotonga, the main island, to the low lying untouched coral atolls of the northern group islands of Manihiki, Penrhyn, Rakahanga, Pukapuka, Nassau and Suwarrow. The latter, inhabited only by a caretaker and his family, is a popular anchorage for yachts from all over the world.
The southern group of islands is made up of the capital Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, Manuaw, Palmerston and Takutea. Takutea is an uninhabited bird sanctuary and managed by the Atiu Island Council. Manuae is the remaining uninhabited island.
Cook Islanders have their own Maori language and each of the populated islands a distinct dialect. The population of the Cook Islands is around 20,000.
The Cooks have been self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1965. By virtue of that unique relationship, all Cook Islanders hold New Zealand passports, and use a combination of New Zealand currency and distinctive Cook Islands coins and a $3 dollar note that has the same value as New Zealand currency.
We visited the Cook Islands for 10 days and had the best time. We write about it here on the blog: