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Cook Islands Travel Guide

Rarotonga Road
A country road on eastern Rarotonga.

Toward Ikurangi

At Matavera there's yet another lovely CICC church (1865) beside the road. Farther along, just a few km before Avarua, watch for a signboard on Maotangi Road pointing the way in to Marae Arai-te-tonga, on the Ara Metua. Marae Arai-te-tonga, the most sacred on the island, was a koutu, or place where the ta'unga (priest) invested and anointed the high chiefs (ariki) of the island. The route of the ancient Ara Metua is quite evident here, and there are other stone constructions 100 meters along it to the east.

Take the road inland between these ruins as far as Tupapa Stream, where two rather difficult climbs begin. Just a km up the trail is a fork in the path: the right fork leads to the top of Ikurangi (485 meters), while the one up the stream continues to Te Manga (653 meters). Neither climb is easy, so a local guide would be a good idea. From the top of Ikurangi (Tail of the Sky) you can see the whole wave-washed reef, tomato patches, and plantations of grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and lemon trees. This climb is best done in the cool hours of the early morning.

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