Rarotonga is the main island in the Cook Islands. All visitors will enter the country here, unless you arrive by boat. We have visited these islands several times over the years and keep returning because of the people and climate. The island is an outdoor tropical greenhouse filled with beautiful flowers and the people have an extremely easy going, relaxed lifestyle. The Cook Islands are a wonderful getaway from the fast paced, hectic lifestyle found in so many other countries.
About the cache:
The cache is easy to get to on Uruau Drive. You can walk or drive right to GZ. I always rent a scooter when I visit Rarotonga, to give me the flexibility for travel around the small island. The only drawback with the scooter is that you are limited to a maximum of 2 passengers and it does rain in Rarotonga. The cache is hidden along the road which leads to the cross island trek - but you do not need to hike to get to the cache. If you do the trek, you can find the cache along the way.
March 2018 Update Note:Someone has done some earthwork and pushed dirt into the area used to access the cache. It is now more of a challenge but still accessible - best to have decent shoes on.
Cross island trek:
Start waypoint north end: S21 12.348 W159 47.105
End waypoint south end: S21 15.786 W159 47.729
Total distance with side branch to the Needle: about 9 km.
The cache is hidden on Uruau Drive, which is the first part of the cross island trek for those hiking from north to south (which is the recommended direction). The trek is a fairly rigorous, steep walk which can be done independently or with the service of a local guide. It takes about 3.5 to 4 hours to complete. Most hikers catch a bus to the harbor and get out at the intersection of the main road and Uruau Drive. Just tell the bus driver you want to do the cross island trek and he will drop you off at the right spot. I set a waypoint at the north end of the trek (See above), which marks the beginning of the hike.
You begin the hike on a paved road, which heads inland and climbs slowly up a narrow valley. You will cross over the inland road and soon arrive at the cache, which is exactly 1km from the start of the trek. The lower part of the valley is farmed and makes for a beautiful walk. Along the way you will pass: the power station for the island, small farms with taro patches and grazing goats and pigs. The paved road ends at a bed and breakfast near a small parking lot.
Just read the signs and the trail is obvious. Here, the paved road turns into a narrow dirt road that winds slowly upward through the jungle and ends in an open area near the public water intake on the Avatiu Stream . At the end of the open area you will get to the trail which follows the Avatiu Stream for a short distance. The trail then crosses the stream and you will come to a huge boulder. Stay just to the right of the boulder and the path begins a sharp ascent up a 'staircase' of tree roots. As you climb you are surrounded by dense jungle, with the odd vantage point showing views back to the harbor and forward to the rocky needle at the top of the climb.
As you approach the rocky pinnacle called Te Rua Manga or "The Needle", you will reach a fork in the trail at S21 14.308 W159 47.280. Going to the right will take you on a short 10 min climb up to the Needle at 413m and S21 14.344 W159 47.327. The trail ends here and there are great vistas to the north and south sides of the island. It is well worth the time to go up to Te Rua Manga.
When you head down and return to the main trail, follow the other fork - which will take you down to the south side of the island along Papua Stream. Along the way you will reach another fork in the trail. The left branch follows the traditional route and is the easier hike. If you stay to the right following the white power casing pipe, you will end up walking along a very steep-sided ridge that ends with an extremely treacherous, loose rock slope, that drops down to Papua Stream. I would definitely recommend that you follow the traditional route, unless you are an experienced hiker wearing good hiking boots.This was the third time I have done the cross island trek, and this was the only time I took a wrong turn and ended up going down to Papua Sream on my 'butt'.
The trail along Papua Stream parallels the stream and crosses it in several places. The ferns are gigantic and tower over your head. In some sections the trail is hard to follow, so take your time and watch for signs of foot traffic. The difficult section of the hike ends at Wigmore Waterfall at S21 15.228 W159 47.255. This is a perfect spot to rest and take a dip in the pool to refresh the body and soothe the feet - which are likely to need it by this point. The trail from Wigmore's Waterfall to the end on the south side is on a good road that runs through farmland of banana, papaya and vegetables. Near the end you will see the abandoned Sheraton/Hilton complex which has been left unfinished for many years. As soon as you reach the main road you have completed toe trek. Congratulations!
PLEASE HELP: My long time , local volunteer, maintenance person has left the island. Until I can return and find another helper, I can only rely on your support with keeping this cache in good order. Given the extreme distance from my Canadian home, I would ask any fellow geocachers help me maintain the hide for all of those who may follow. If it appears to be in need of any maintenance - could you please fix it as best you can. I believe it may need another log book. Thank you, for your support.
Update: There has been recent earthworks that make the last few meters to the cache more difficult. What was once easy is now a scramble. Flip flops not recommended.