Rarotonga Wedding - South Pacific Diaries 2

Our next visit to the South Pacific islands sees us on the island of Rarotonga.

About Rarotonga

To you Brits, that probably sounds very exotic – and to us too! But to New Zealanders it’s the equivalent of visiting Mallorca! Rarotonga is actually a protectorate of New Zealand (Rarotongand have the right to live in NZ) and the local currency is NZ dollars – very home from home! And so are the prices – don’t expect cheap!

Rarotonga is beautful – very green and lush. It has high mountains in the middle of the island, and a coral reef running round it about 50 to 100 metres offshore. There is one main road running around the coast, and other roads that almost circle the island running just a little further inland. There are no roads that cross the island through the mountains. To give you an idea of the size of Rarotonga, it takes the local bus one hour to drive all the way round it.

Buses

There are two buses that run every hour – a clockwise bus and an anticlockwise bus. Us tourists can buy single journeys ($4), returns ($7) or a card of 10 ($25) – this is good value, as you don’t need one per person (we used it for 4 people). The bus is a good cheap way of seeing the island – you pay per trip so if you get on at your hotel you’ll get a whole island tour for the cost of one trip if you don’t get off along the way!

Scooters

Another excellent way of seeing the island is by scooter. A day’s hire is $20, or $100 for the week. This MUST be the bargain of the holiday…. Or push-bike - harder work, but the road is reasonably flat. The main road and the roads that run parallel and inland are tarmacked (but sometimes are a bit rough). The coast road has some lovely views of beaches, and of course you cans stop whenever you like. We’ve taken scooters out for two days now, and have ridden down every road we could find, including dead-end ones that end at the foot of the mountains, and the odd private driveway by accident!!

Tourist Attractions

There aren’t a huge number of ‘tourist attractions’ along the way – don’t come here for museums or art galleries! The island itself is the pull. Things that caught our eye were the ‘Queens Representatives Residence’ – just an ordinary house on the side of the road – the Islands Parliament building, which looks more like a village scout hut, and the local prison which appears to be very close to our hotel! (we did notice an ‘escaped prisoner’ notice in one of the bars on the pub crawl – I wonder if we’re safe!) We stopped at the Maire Nui Gardens & Cafe – good for a break, but the gardens really do need a bit of TLC. ‘Sails’ restaurant at Muri Beach has a fantastic outlook, and the sailing tuition is based from it. Expensive drinks though - $8 NZD for a coke and orange juice!

Wigmores Waterfall (once we’d found it – find the little white and red hut with the notice ‘Saltwater Cafe 2 km’ above it and turn in from the coast) was a bit of a disappointment but a bit of a surprise find was the little river and minor rapids at the end of Happy Valley Road - the road’s a bit rough at the end, but a nice handy concrete block to crash out on for a snooze and (if you stand on a rock in the middle of the stream) a rather pretty waterfall.

Pub Crawl

So what else have we done so far?

We arrived on Friday, to be greeted with ‘Hi! We’ve booked you on a Pub Crawl! Definitely one for the younger ones, this! We gave up after bar 3 (the RSA). The ‘youngsters’ and Lee’s Mum Wendy saw it out, arriving back at 1:30am with a new friend (Hi Shaun!). Heads were very sore the next day, and there was no sign of Shaun (who by this time had gained the nickname ‘Shaun of the Dead’!)

Saturday Market

Saturday was the weekly market in the morning. This is held in the main town of Averua. It’s very touristy, but nice to walk around and browse. The bargain of the morning was a mug of tea for $1 NZD!

Cultural Evening

Then the ‘Cultural Evening’ – traditional Rarotongan buffet, with drums and dancers for entertainment afterwards. Not Art’s cup of tea, but he saw most of it through. Some time during this Shaun surfaced with his parents in tow. Fortunately they seem to be talking to us, and don’t seem to hold the group too accountable for leading their son astray….. The evening continued with some interesting dancing. (PS if you fancy something even more ‘cultural’ we also discovered a ‘cultural village’ off the ‘Back Road’- it doesn’t seem to be very well publicised but if you can find it, the tour starts at 10:00 and it costs $60 NZD for the day including lunch).

Diving

Sunday, following a lie-in, we went diving….. I always enjoy diving. Must say I’ve seen some better reefs though. Laura was chuffed to see her first shark – a reasonably sized (6 footer) white-tipped reef shark. As usual, Art was so busy looking anywhere except where his buddy was that he missed it! I preferred the second dive, which had some tame trigger fish who were more than happy to have a sea urchin cut open for them for a snack.

The Main Event – Lee and Laura’s Wedding!

Yesterday was The Big Day.

Art and Lee went off early in the morning for a scuba dive – I’ve never seen Lee looking so nervous! Little brother Steve and new friend Shaun (see Pub Crawl) wanted to go snorkelling but there wasn’t enough space on the boat so they headed for the Scooter Hire.

The girls had a very relaxing morning (I think Laura spent most of it in the Jacuzzi) followed by a light lunch then an afternoon of Hair and Make-up in the hotel Spa. Our hairdresser and make-up artist was a lovely Fijian man – he did us proud, and finished the last one (me!) with five minutes to spare before the ‘official’ start time.

But we were on Island Time, so it didn’t matter. The flowers were late, but beautiful. Lee was in the bar looking even more nervous than in the morning, little brother Steve was looking very casual, and Shaun was looking even more casual (well,he hadn’t come to Raro expecting a wedding!)

Brendan and Dee – sort of distant relatives of Lee – were there too, with video and still camera in hand.

At last! We were sumonsed to the beach. The Celebrant was there in a flowery shirt, the arc was in place, with a view through to the beach.

It had been a bit blustery and cloudy all day, but the weather had just been waiting! As the music started, Rachel the Bridesmaid walked round the corner, and the sun came out! Then came Laura, and her Mum Maggie.

Laura’s dress was stunning! I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It was an ‘off-the shoulder’ affair, with some beautiful embroidery. And it really suited her blonde hair and slightly bronzed arms and shoulders. I think Lee’s look said it all.

Like most wedding ceremonies, the next bit went in a bit of a blur until the ‘I Now Pronounce you Man and Wife’ bit’ A large cheer, then out came the champagne.

The professional photographer seemed really good so I’m looking forward to seeing the final album! (Shaun seemed to appear in a number of the Guest Shots – who IS this man of mystery??) Then the Bridal Dinner at ‘The Tamarind House - a lovely restaurant with a superb location on the other side of the island. By this time Lee was a tad more relaxed, but couldn’t stop feeling is wedding ring (I can’t get used to it!).

Photos will follow, but we forgot the USB lead from the camera to the computer!

Breaking News!!

We arrived back from our day’s scooter trip, and found the hotel looking very spick and span. The restaurant is decked out, there’s a marquee up next to the pool. Apparently the NZ prime minister John Key is visiting and staying in our hotel!! (Wonder if he’ll be in the room next to us – I could offer him a Duty Free Brandy and Coke across the balcony!!)

holidays/abroad/2009_rarotonga.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/31 11:04 by art
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