Wondermondo 🢖 World 🢖 Wonders of Australia and Oceania 🢖 Wonders of Polynesia 🢖 Wonders of Cook Islands


Wonders of Cook Islands

Te Manga mountains, Rarotonga
Te Manga mountains, Rarotonga / Marcus Gleinig, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

The diverse Cook Islands represent a true spirit of southern seas – on many of these islands people still are living slow paced and tasty lives amidst beautiful scenery. As always, there is the other side of the coin: frequent warfare in the past, terrible hurricanes, and worries about rising sea level. Islands are associated with New Zealand – but nevertheless they represent an independent nation.

Map with the described wonders

Travelers' Map is loading...
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.

WorldViolet Top 23 wonders of Cook Islands

Geological wonders

Vai Marere

Large cave chamber with numerous stalactites. At the bottom of the cave is a deep blue pool. Water here reportedly has curative powers due to high sulfur content.

Vai Nauri

Large cave chamber with a pool in it, one of the most beautiful sights in Cook Islands. Water falls in the pool from stalactites like a rain.

Te Rua Manga (The Needle)

An impressive rock spire on the top of the hill. The top is 413 m above sea level. This formation is seen almost from any location in Rarotonga island.

Te Rua Manga or The Needle in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Te Rua Manga or The Needle in Rarotonga / dustinpsmith, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Approximately 1 km long cave with beautiful stalactites, and stalagmites. Several sinkholes open to the cave. In this cave is nesting the rare and endemic Atiu Swiftlet (Aerodramus sawtelli).

Motuanga Cave

Impressive cave system with 8 chambers, the last two are underwater and extend under the reef.

Vai Tamaroa

Submerged cave. It has a vertical opening with 10 m tall walls.

Wigmore’s Waterfall (Papua Waterfall)

The only waterfall of significant size in the Cook Islands. Water is sliding down along a steep cliff, the height is approximately 15 m.

Biological wonders

Mauke Island Banyan Tree

An enormous banyan tree. The crown of this tree takes some 6,000 m². The stem of the tree consists of countless aerial roots creating a phantasmagoric landscape.

Seven palms in Avarua

A unique group of seven coconut palms growing in a perfect circle, all grown up from a single seed.

Aitutaki banyan tree tunnel

Giant banyan tree with asphalted two-way road going through its countless aerial roots. Road goes 53 m under the canopy of this tree.

Fossil dog of Pukapuka

Here were found remnants of a dog who died around 300 BC. This dog was neither a Polynesian dog nor an Australian dingo. There are no finds of similar-sized dogs elsewhere in Pacific and southeast Asia and it is discussed whether this is an aberration. This find testifies also that the island was inhabited earlier than other islands of the region.

Archaeological wonders

Vaerota Marae

Well preserved marae where the seafarers received the blessings for the success of their missions. Human sacrifices were given to gods here as well.

Teruarere Cave

Beautiful, more than 791 m long cave with stalactites and stalagmites, flowstone formations, cascades, and curtains. Ancient burial cave with at least 7 skeletons in it. Contains also a cultural layer left by Polynesian settlement – this cultural layer contains bones of birds that are extinct now.

Tautua Cave

335 m long cave with high cultural importance to the Tonga’iti tribe. It was used as a refuge during the wars and contains stone-faced platforms – marae and a place for playing tupe disk game. At the far end of the cave are two burials.

Te Pare Fort

Remnants of the only fort in the Cook Islands. It was built during the wars between Atiu and Mitiaro. Remain 3 – 10 m tall walls of coral slabs. Fort has also a refuge cave for women and children.

Rimarau Burial Cave

Cave with ancient burials, and hundreds of human bones.

Tuitini Cave

830 m long cave with four ancient burials.

Touropuru Cave

587 m long burial cave of the Totongaiti tribe, contains at least 31 skeletons. Some of the deceased lie in canoes – they were buried here before Europeans came.

Te Ana O Rakanui

Ancient burial cave and former homestead of the Rakanui family. Large cave consisting of many corridors and chambers.

Te Poaki O Rae

One of several maraes – ceremonial platforms on the island, with enormous upright stones installed. Te Poaki O Rae marae is the only cleared marae. It has up to 2.8 m tall standing stones, its area is 1.6 ha.

Ara Metua

Ancient, approximately 29 km long ancient road, located inwards from the present road. Until the middle of the 20th-century road, for the most part, was paved with basalt and coral slabs well fitted together, in villages there was curbing as well. The road served as the central element in the spiritual, administrative, and economical life of the island. Possibly built as early as around 1050 AD.

Side road to Harerangi joins to Ara Metua, Cook Islands
Side road to Harerangi joins to Ara Metua / From "The Material Culture of the Cook Islands" Te Rangi Hiroa, New Plymouth, 1927.
Arai te Tonga

The most sacred marae in Rarotonga was developed roughly in 1250 AD. Not much is visible above the soil. Includes also koutu – a meeting ground. It is not allowed to step on a marae – it is still sacred.

Arai te Tonga, Rarotonga
Arai te Tonga, Rarotonga / Robert Engbert, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Legendary wonders

Treasures of Suwarrow

There have been several finds of treasure on this little island, and part of these treasures have been lost again and still are hidden on this island. In the 1870ies there were found remnants of, presumably, European-built structures of mysterious origin. Here was found also a skeleton: it was holding an iron bolt.

WorldYellow Recommended books

The Islands of the South Pacific

Tahiti is one of the Society Islands which, with the Gambiers, the Tuamotus, the Australs, and the Marquesas, make up French Polynesia. This archipelago spread out over several million square miles of the south-central Pacific is a mixture of high volcanic islands and low coral atolls. Moorea, the landmass you can see in the distance from Papeete, is 12 miles away. It’s a lovely 82-square-mile triangular-shaped island of sharp peaks, deep valleys, beaches, and bays. The 6,000 people who live there are dependent on pineapple, vanilla, and tourists.

Papa Mike’s Cook Islands Handbook, 3rd Edition

Third Edition of this popular Cook Islands Guidebook, containing updated information on all populated islands of the Cook Island chain. The 3rd edition is the initial e-book edition, enabling readers with Wi-Fi connections to access Web sites and e-mail addresses by clicking on the text of the book. The guide includes complete lodging and restaurant information as well as guides to the various tours and island night performances.

3.8 5 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments