The "land of the birds" has the kopeka (pictured above) as its signature species.  It's unique to the island and at the airport, you're welcomed not only to Atiu, but also to the "island of the kopeka".  You don't have to be a "twitcher" though to enjoy Atiu because it has much more to offer than just bird watching as I discovered
Atiu airport
HOW THE KOPEKA GOT ITS NAME?
I love this story even though it's almost certainly not true!  Centuries ago, an islander spotted the bird from a distance and thought it was a peeka which is a Maori word for bat.  He exclaimed: "Coo! Peeka" and that's how the bird got its name! :-)
 
Picnic with Marshall Humphreys
Atiu roundabout
Rush hour on Atiu!    The roundabout is one of only two in the whole of the Cook Islands (the other one's in front of the court building on Rarotonga).  But it's hard to see why it, and four road signs nearby are really needed
Centre marker
This marker is at the very centre of the island.  It was erected more than 100 years ago but sophisticated 21st century technology has established it's in exactly the right place
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF CAPTAIN COOK
Atiu Beach 1
Atiu sunset
Picnic on the beach...
 With Marshall Humphreys...even the Lonely Planet guide sings the praises of his banana muffins!  The food is included in his round the island tour which I can't recommend too highly.   Marshall is incredibly knowledgeable about the island and genuinely cares about its people and history.   You can also stay in the lovely home he and his wife, Jeanne have built on the island where you'll be treated like one of the family. 
Find out more at his own website.


Skull in cave
It may look a bit scary, but this skull is one of many found in caves all over the island that were formerly used as burial grounds.  Visits are very popular and I can assure they're not in the least bit gruesome
Andrea with tivaivai
Tivaivai bed cover
Tivaivai detail
    ART FROM THE HEART
Tivaivai exhibit
Andrea Eimke is an extremely talented artist who set up her studio on Atiu  in 1986 but sadly that has now closed.    Above are some examples of her stunning tivaivai work.  The one far right combines tradition with modern design and was Andrea's entry in an exhbition on Rarotonga.  You can sometimes find mama's in the Vainetine building next to the courthouse and town hall working on their own unique creations and continuing the tradition which Andrea helped to revive

Atiu church
The church plays an important part in daily life on Atiu, as it does throughout the Cook Islands.  The walls of this one are more than 10 feet (3 metres) thick
Blooming beautiful
The island is rich in greenery and fantastic flowers
WOULDN'T YOU BE HAPPY
IF YOU LIVED HERE?

I'm including this picture for no other reason than I'm really proud of it.   These young islanders were just sitting around chatting happily to each other on a bagggage wagon at Atiu airport when I photographed them.  For me, it captures perfectly the charm of Atiu and its people

Atiu Beach 2
See and hear the kopeka for yourself
With grateful acknowledgement to the Cook Islands biodiversity database
 
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Atiu gravestone of 107 year old
MAY YOU LIVE LONG
Kia orana - the usual greeting in the Cook Islands - roughly translates as "may you live long"...and on Atiu they seem to do precisely that.  This is the gravestone of Ina-I-Te-Roe who lived to the grand age of 107.  She had 15 children, 70 grand children, 70 great-grand children, and 30 great-great- grandchildren by the time she passed away.  Click on the picture for a larger version and you can read it for yourself.
Captain Cook's crew (although not Cook himself) went ashore here at Orovaru beach - easily identifiable by the huge rock in the middle of the lagoon about 20 metres from shore.  And you can still walk the same paved trail that the crew took to the main settlement at Orongo. Signs of the old village can still be seen around Orongo Marae
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Some will tell you the island has no beaches to speak off, but that's far from true.   This one is dubbed the Bondi of Atiu. The sand is bone white and the water crystal clear
Another of the wonders of the island is the Coral Garden lagoon on the south coast from Matai landing to Takaroa beach.  When there are no waves filling it, it's like a tropical fish tank because water drains out through a sink hole and the fish have nowhere to go.  Get to it along the reef from Takaroa beach. But a word of warning....this is a dangerous place unless conditions are right

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