Atiu beach Ovovaru Beach, Atiu

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 walk the same paved trail the crew took to the main settlement at Orongo. Signs of the old village can still be seen around Orongo Marae


Some will tell you the island has no beaches to speak off, but that's far from true. There are 28, but some are almost inaccessible. 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


Caves litter the island.  Many were formerly used as burial grounds and are filled with skulls and bones; organised visits are popular.  But if you prefer the open air, look skyward for a whole host of colourful birdlife or around you at the myriad of plant life


Andrea Eimke is an extremely talented artist who set up her studio on Atiu in 1986 but sadly that has now closed. Here are some examples of her stunning patchworkquilting (tivaivai) work. 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

There's no written record of how or when the sewing of tivaevae was introduced to the Islands. Some say the wives of the London Missionary Society missionaries, who arrived in 1821, might have taught it. Others hold that it was learned from the Tahitian missionaries who helped introduce Christianity 

Source: The Art of Tivaevae by Lynnsay Rongokea, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, published by Random House New Zealand, 2001

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 flat bed bagggage wagon at Atiu airport when I photographed them. For me, they capture perfectly the charm of Atiu and its people 

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 grandchildren, 70 great-grand children, and 30 great-great-grandchildren by the time she passed away