Sunday, June 19, 2011

Your Own Personal Paradise...

Aitutaki: Your Own Personal Paradise

Aitutaki, also traditionally known as "Araura", "Ararau" and "Utataki", and is part of the Southern Group of the Cook Islands, and it is north of Rarotonga. With a population of approximately 2,000, Aitutaki is the second most visited island.


Aitutaki Airport is located close to the triangle's northern point, and there are daily flights to the island by Air Rarotonga


Arutanga is the main village where you will find the Westpac Bank branch with an ATM. You will also find the Tourism Office on the opposite side of the road, and close by is a store and a petrol station...







Aitutaki is an "almost atoll". It has a maximum elevation of approximately 123 metres with the hill known as Maunga Pu. The barrier reef that forms the basis of Aitutaki is roughly the shape of an equilateral triangle with sides 12 kilometres in length. The southern edge of the triangle is almost totally below the surface of the ocean, and the eastern side is composed of a string of small islands which includes Mangere, Akaiami, and Tekopua.

The western side of the atoll contains many of Aitutaki's important features including a boat passage through the barrier reef allowing for anchorage close to shore at Arutanga. Further to the north is the bulk of the main island. Its fertile volcanic soil provide tropical fruits and vegetables.

Polynesians probably first settled Aitutaki around AD 900. The first known European contact was with Captain Bligh and the crew of the "HMS Bounty" when they discovered Aitutaki on April 11, 1789, prior to the infamous mutiny.

Aitutaki was the first of the Cook Islands to accept Christianity, after London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary John Williams visited in 1821. The oldest church is the Cook Islands Christian Church in Arutanga, which was built by Papeiha (Bora Bora) and Vahapata (Raiatea), two LMS teachers Williams had left behind.

In 1942 New Zealand and American forces were stationed on the island, building the two-way airstrip that can be seen today. This airport, and one on the northernmost Penrhyn Island, were to be used as bases by the Allies during World War II. The first aircraft, an American light bomber, landed on November 22, 1942. When the war ended some of the servicemen remained and married the locals.

During the 1950s Aitutaki's lagoon was used as a stopover for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) flying boats on the famous Coral Route. The islet of Akaiami was used as a resting stop for passengers, who often lay about until the aircraft was refuelled for two hours. These operations ceased in 1960, and the only reminder are the remains of the purpose-built jetty on Akaiami. The flying boat 'Aranui', which was part of this service, is now on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand.

Two of Aitutaki's motus (small islands), Rapota and Moturakau, were the locations of the first series of the UK reality television program Shipwrecked in 2000.

In 2006, the island was used as the location for the tribal council in the US TV program Survivor: Cook Islands. Surrounding islands were used for tribal camps and crew locations. One of the tribes was named Aitutaki (or 'Aitu') after the island.

Then, not long afterwards, Shipwrecked returned again, with Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands 2006. This was filmed on the same islands as before. One year later, Aitutaki was the locale of an episode of Survivorman.

In June 2010 the island was nominated "the world's most beautiful island" by Tony Wheeler the founder of Lonely Planet Travel Guide, and to see this breathtaking beauty one has to travel there to experience it. The photos below were taken in March 2009.
Aitutaki is famous for its turquoise central lagoon, uninhabited islands and palm-fringed beaches.

Tapuaetai (One Foot Island), a small islet in the south-east of the lagoon, is often said to be the most important attraction. It is regarded as providing the visitor with the best views of the Aitutaki lagoon and depending on the tide one is able to walk on a sandbank a decent distance away from Tapuaetai (One Foot Island). The trip to this island is the most frequented trip available on Aitutaki and is bookable in most hotels. One Foot Island was awarded "Australasia's Leading Beach" at the World Travel Awards held in Sydney in June 2008.

Ootu Peninsula is of coral formation, but attached to the main volcanic island, thus a peninsula. If it were an island, it would be the largest of the minor islands.

All minor islets, except Akitua and Maina, are part of Vaipae-Tautu Constituency. Akitua is part of Amuri-Ureia Constituency, as is Ootu Peninsula, just north of Akitua. Maina is part of Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara Constituency. The main island is equally divided among the three constituencies Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara (southwest), Vaipae-Tautu (southeast), and Amuri-Ureia (north).

Araura College is the only secondary school on Aitutaki...

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