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Introduction

Pukapuka, formerly Danger Island, is a coral atoll in the northern group of the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is one of most remote islands of the Cook Islands, situated about 1,140 kilometres northwest of Rarotonga. On this small island an ancient culture and distinct language has been maintained over many centuries. The traditional name for the atoll is Te Ulu-o-Te-Watu ('the head of the stone'), and the northern islet where the people normally reside is affectionately known as Wale ('Home'). The name Pukapuka is also ancient, and referred originally to the people.

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Geography

Pukapuka is shaped like a three bladed fan. There are three islets on the roughly triangular reef, with a total land area of approximately 3 square kilometres. Motu Kō, the biggest island is to the southeast; Motu Kotawa (Frigatebird Island) is to the southwest; and the main island Wale is to the north. Kō and Motu Kotawa are uninhabited food reserves, with taro and pulaka gardens and coconut plantations.

The submerged Tima Reef is situated 23 kilometres southeast of Pukapuka. About 60 kilometres away is Nassau which is owned by the people of Pukapuka and considered part of it for administrative purposes. Since the 1950s it has been governed by the Council of Chiefs of Pukapuka. The Nassau Island Committee advises the Pukapuka Island Committee on matters relating to its own island.

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Villages

The three villages are located on the crescent-shaped bay of the northernmost islet of the atoll: Yātō (West), Loto (Central) and Ngake (East). Loto (Roto on most maps) is host to the Island Administration. The traditional names for these villages are Takanumi, Kotipolo and Te Lāngaikula. In daily life the islanders frequently call them Tiapani (Japan), Malike or Amelika (United States) and Ōlani (Holland) respectively. In sports competitions between the villages, the villagers use the names and flags of these countries.

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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

Although the island has a well-maintained airstrip, flights from Rarotonga are very infrequent. The five-hour flight from Rarotonga via Air Rarotonga now operates when there is a Government charter once every six weeks or so. The island is closer to Samoa than to the rest of the Cook Islands and transport via Samoa is becoming a preferred option for Pukapukans visiting in organised groups from New Zealand and Australia.

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Eat/Drink

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Pukapuka Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Pukapuka

This is version 1. Last edited at 10:35 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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