Approx. 120.000 visitors come to the Cook Islands, approx. 25.000 fly on to Aitutaki during their stay, yet only 1.200 visitors a year make it to Atiu. That´s a little more than 20 people on a weekly basis. Want something truly off the beaten track? Go to Atiu! A geological adventure place, a bird haven and local coffee are three good reasons to visit!
Anatakitaki caves is a must see, when you are on Atiu. Embedded in tropical rainforest, this limestone cave with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites is untouched by any human infrastructure or safety measures. It also contains an underground pool, in which you can take a candlelit swim and is home to an absolutely unique bird (please go to the next blog entry).
Unique to Atiu, unique in its features: the Kopeka (Atiu swiftlet). This little bird, not weighing more than 13 grams, has some serious technical features. While it´s got perfect sight to find its way when there is light, it also is equipped with sonar. It lives in the Anatakitaki cave – where it is mostly dark – and navigates by issuing click-sounds, which reflect of the cave walls and structures. And please remember, we are talking about a bird here, not a bat!
Atiu has a couple of institutions, George Mateariki is one of them! We joined him on a day tour to learn about the islands flora and fauna, specifically the birds. George is an absolute expert in his field and is managing bird life on Atiu. That means making sure the reintroduced Rimatara Lorekeet is doing fine as well as the rare Rarotongan Flycatcher. In September he will share his experience in Hawaii, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress.
Coffee was introduced in the early 19th century to Atiu. The early export success slowly faded and coffee production came to a halt. A German who moved to the island in the 1980s saw the potential and re-established coffee growing and production. Certainly a gift for the island. As he recently passed away, Mata is the only remaining coffee producer on Atiu. She stands in the long tradition of her family making coffee since the 1950s and is very modest about her central role in the Atiuan coffee industry. A special twist to her coffee: the beans get roasted in coconut cream!