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Introduction

Mitiaro, the fourth island in the Cook Islands group, is of volcanic origin, standing in water 4,500 metres deep.

The native islanders had a pre-European history of harassment and subjugation by the warlike Atiuans, there were significant deaths in the population.

The island was discovered by missionary John Williams on 20 June 1823 who brought Christian beliefs and encouraged the settlers to leave their original faith. The estimated population at that time was less than 100 inhabitants.

During the 1840s the island was attacked again by Atiuans. On 31 October 1888 HMS Hyacinth commanded by Captain Bourke, hoisted the United Kingdom flag in the island. It was later merged to the Cook Islands until its annexation to New Zealand in 1901.

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Geography

It is 6.4 kilometres across at its widest point. Mitiaro is part of the Nga-Pu-Toru island group formerly, a volcano that became a coral atoll. The coral died forming Makatea. The island is surrounded by the belt of fossilised Coral - makatea, between 6 and 9 metres high, characteristic of islands in the southern group. The centre is almost flat, quite swampy and contains two freshwater lakes teeming with eels(Anguilla obscura) or what the locals call itiki and the imported tilapia from Africa where it is known as bream. Beaches are limited but there are crystal clear pools ideal for swimming in the subterranean limestone caves and the beach at low tide abounds in interesting marine life.

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Villages

The island has four villages, located close together on the western side, from north to south: Taurangi (a former village), Atai (also called Arai), Auta, Mangarei and Takaue. The high school is located in the principal village, Arai. Takaue is the second largest village.

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Sights and Activities

There is not much to do on Mitiaro, except walking around, having a coconut, talk to the friendly locals and go fishing.

Fishing inside or outside the reef is possible, and there is no ciguatera here unlike in Rarotonga.

There are some nice beaches, but the reef is to shallow for swimming. With a little common sense it is, however safe to swim and snorkel outside the reef when the sea is calm.

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Weather

The Cook Islands have a tropical climate, meaning warm and humid weather year round but with constant sea breezes bringing some relief on the hotter summer days. November to April are summer months when it is around 28 °C during the day on Rarotonga and a bit warmer on Aitutaki which is more to the north. Temperatures at night are usually just 5 °C cooler or so. These months also have the most rain, with some tropical downpours during the afternoon, followed by sunshine again. Sometimes, several rainy days are possible. This is also the time that hurricanes are a possibility, although these don't strike every year of course. Wintermonths are cooler, especially on the most southern islands (around 25 °C during the day) but also drier and sunnier. Aitutaki has smaller differences between summer and winter regarding temperatures and the northern islands even less so.

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Getting There

Mitiaro Airport is located at the northern end of the island. Air Rarotonga flies to/from Atiu, Mauke and Rarotonga.

It's a short 50-minute flight with an Embrear Bandairante to/from Rarotonga. There is a baggage limit of 16kg per passenger. Sometimes the flight from Atiu or Mauke gets redirected via Mitiaro, so there unofficially might be a chance to get here from one of these two without first flying to Rarotonga if you can wait until it happens and manage to make Air Raro take you.

For the adventurous, the cheaper option is to go by boat. The "freighter" (let's call it a nutshell) goes irregularly to Mitiaro (Usually via Mauke, so you might even get here from Mauke). Ask at the office of the inter-island shipping company in Avarua harbour. Depending on the winds it can take a few days. Be also prepared to be delayed several days, don't count on a fixed departure and arrival, because it leaves when they're finished loading, the winds are good, the captain is sober and the number of octopuses in the harbour plus the number of coconuts in muri equals the stars seen at 11:00pm at night, no matter what they tell you when it is supposed to leave.

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Getting Around

By foot you'll see the most, but you need time.
By motorbike. Ask your host.

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Eat

Accommodations usually provide food. Self-catering is also a good option if you fish. Bring as much non-local stuff like butter, eggs, meat, spices etc. as you need. These things are expensive on Mitiaro.

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Drink

Water should be boiled before you drink it.

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Sleep

Vivian's Homestay, ☎ +682 36008. Meals included or DIY cooking.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 9:50 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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