TAKE THE ISLANDS HOME

Cook Islands souvenirs

Unique memories are the lasting souvenirs of a visit to the Cook Islands. But if you're looking for something more tangible, here are just a few ideas which I think are worthy of note

BLACK PEARLS

The black-lipped pearl oyster or parau (Pinctada margaritifera) is abundant in the Manihiki and Penrhyn lagoons. Islanders say they're the finest in the world. The industry itself is in decline with only a handful of pearl farms still operating

Perfumes of Rarotonga

PERFUMES AND MORE

The wonderful floral smells of the islands are captured and bottled at Perfumes of Rarotonga. Visit them at their new "factory" near the airport or their shop at Cooks Corner in town (Avarua). Everything is hand made.

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COINS AND STAMPS

The Islands produce some of the most unusual and collectable coins, banknotes and stamps in the world. The Philatelic Bureau in Avarua in Rarotonga is the place to go for a wide choice of both. A $3 note is a popular souvenir costing...NZ$3

Cook Islands currency

TANGAROA

Don't be shocked or offended...this is an image you'll see all over the Cook Islands. The ancient deity, Tangaroa was one of the children of the Sky Father, Ranginui, and Mother Earth, Papatuanuku. He's the god of the sea and fertility. Carvings are just a few of the many souvenirs featuring his image

Tangaroa wooden carving

PAREUS AND PATE

Cooko Islanders wearing pareu

The PAREU is a screen printed or tie-dyed piece of fabric with which Islanders seem to be able to work miracles! Just by tying them in different ways, they can be turned into strapless or halter neck dresses, shorts and even a beach jacket.
I've tried....it's not easy, but it's still a great souvenir which can be relatively inexpensive     Photo: Ewan Smith

Cook Islands pate

The PATE (par-tay) is something you're likely to see if you go to an island night of music and dance. It's an instrument carved from wood and beaten in a similar way to a drum. You can get plenty of tacky versions (more than likely made in the Far East or China) in local shops. But if you have a look round the weekly cultural market, you can find the real thing to annoy your friends and relatives with when you get home!!! 

SOUVENIRS SUPPORTING GREAT CAUSE‚ÄčS

If you're looking for pareus, the Creative Centre in Rarotonga not only has loads of locally-made choice, but every sale helps people with disabilities or those needing full-time care.  Alternatively, you could take home a bottle of "Paul's Hot Sauce" which is made with local ingredients, supporting island farmers. Proceeds from the "Raro Fire" flavour go towards helping volunteer fire brigades on the island.  The Centre store is located between the Kai & Co Eatery and Ollies Surf Shop, or visit their stall in the Punanga Nui market.   Photos: Cook Islands Tourism

PEARL CARVING

If your budget doesn't stretch to black pearls, Tokeraua Jim has beautiful items which he carves from black pearls and their shells.  His family come from Manihiki which is the heart of pearl farming and he carves  beautiful works of art like this one. He's now based in New Zealand but you can still find some of his work in shops and at the market in Rarotonga.  His Facebook page has more