TAKUTEA

Dese‚Äčrted

189 kms/118 mls North East of Rarotonga      
Access: Restricted. Written permission to visit is required
Population: 0    1.3 sq.kms/0,5 sq. mls

ABOUT TAKUTEA

Twenty kilometres (12.4 miles) north west of Atiu is the tiny coral cay of Takutea. It's only 6 metres (20 feet) above sea level at the highest point and most of it's covered in coconut palms. Access (which is restricted) is only possible on the leeward side in calm weather as the island is surrounded by unbroken reef.  Takutea is sometimes still called Enua-Iti which means Small Island. Captain James Cook recorded that name in his journal when he reached the island on 4 April, 1777 and sent boats ashore to collect food.

GETTING THERE

There is no commercial access. The island is administered by a Trust and special permission is needed to visit even for landowners. Takutea Trustees, the Atiu Trust, the Island Council and the National Evironment Service all have to be consulted and approve

WHAT'S IT LIKE?

 The island has been designated a wildlife sanctuary. Thousands of red tailed tropicbirds and red footed boobies nest there and it's one of the most important sea bird breeding grounds in the Pacific region. The island is surrounded by a pristine, unbroken reef

No doubt the birds have thrived because Takutea is the only island in the Cooks never to have had a permanent population. Even when some of Captain Cook's crew went ashore over 240 years ago, there was no evidence of a permanent settlement, although they found some empty huts

BELOW AND ABOVE

The pristine reef surrounding the island is free of dead coral and includes features that experienced divers say are seen nowhere else on the planet. On the surface of the ocean, waves can be as wide as 400 metres and are a surfer's dream, according to islanders on neighbouring Atiu

A DIVER'S PARADISE

Research scientist and expert diver, Graham Wragg was given speical permission to visit the island and he took away memories to last a lifetime

"I did not sail off the end-of-the-world after all! I found a magical little uninhabited island, where time stands still. Well, I sort of did, anyway.

We went diving at Takutea Wildlife Sanctuary and about fell over backwards within one minute of getting into the water - we had stumbled onto a divers paradise"

PROTECTING PERFECTION

Island leaders on Atiu have signed an agreement with a not-for-profit environmental organisation, designating a 297 acre wildlife sanctuary on Takutea. A five mile restricted fishing zone has been set up around the island and it's illegal to land or fish in that area

The agreement means no changes will be allowed to the natural environment for 20 years. The organisation - SeaCology - have previously funded environmental protection work on Mangaia.