Visitors Guide N

National Cultural Centre

This was erected for the sixth Festival of Pacific Arts in 1992 and contains the Are-Karioi-Nui Auditorium, the National Library and the National Museum. The museum is worth a visit. Taxpayers in the Cook Islands are still paying off the debt incurred in the construction of these oversized buildings.

Needle (The)

The Needle (Te Rua Manga) is a dramatic feature in the centre of Rarotonga (413 metres). It’s a popular and rewarding hike for those with a reasonable level of fitness. Start in the morning and travel from north to south. You’ll come out near the ruins of the failed Sheraton Resort, where you can wait for a bus back to wherever. Be sure to carry a good supply of water with you.

Newspapers

The Cook Islands News (published daily except Sunday) is well worth the $1.00 to get a bit of an insight into how the place ticks. It may not have as much international news as the Sydney or Auckland papers but isn’t that what you’re trying to escape from? The Cook Islands Herald is a weekly paper owned by the same family that runs the local radio and television stations. Watch especially for reports on local political scandals and announcements of local events. Even the ads and classifieds can be interesting.

Nightlife

You will find nightlife in Avarua at Trader Jack’s, the Staircase Bar & Restaurant, the Banana Court, ,Rehab Nightclub, Hidies Courtyard Bar and at the larger resorts. Friday night is the ‘biggest’ night of the week with nightspots closing at midnight on Saturdays in respect for Sunday worship. A cheap thrill tip from David Stanley’s Moon Handbook. Find out when an Air New Zealand 767 will be arriving and position yourself on the sea wall at the west end of the runway. Apparently it’s quite an experience to have a big jet pass 15 metres over your head. I imagine even more so after a Friday night pub crawl (aim to get there at 10:15pm!).

Noni Fruit

You may come across bottles of noni juice at the markets or in roadside stores. Many locals swear by a daily dose to clean the system out and clear the head. It’s not cheap, but apparently you don’t need much. Approach with caution. Shangri-La’s Elliot Smith suggested to the owners that they put on each label, “If it tastes bad it must be good for you!”

Nudity

Nudity is not a part of Polynesian culture so please respect this. Mind you, there some lovely uninhabited sandy islets couples may be able to get to and, well, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, did it really fall?

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