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New Cook Islands Tours Connect Visitors with the Secrets of Ancient Arts

September 19, 2013 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

The ancient art of celestial navigation is celebrating a modern revival in the Cook Islands as the star of three new tours.

Island Discoveries has launched cruises on a traditional carved ocean voyaging canoe, or 538242vaka, Marumara Atua. Two options to experience the vaka are offered – a 3 hour cruise around the main visitor island of Rarotonga and a four day return sailing from Rarotonga to the even more spectacular island of Aitutaki. 

The third new tour is a land-based journey called Navigating Pacific Skies. It begins with a dinner on a beautiful beach as the sun sets and the stars make their appearance. The group then proceeds to follow the four points of the compass, guided by the stars, around Rarotonga, just 32 km in circumference.

Navigating Pacific Skies operates Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5.45pm (variable by time of year) for three hours and costs $120 per person including dinner (minimum six guests required).

Teuatakiri (Tua) Pittman- one of the Pacific’s leading traditional master navigators – guides both the vaka and the navigation tours. Tua spent most of 2011 and 2012 navigating Marumaru Atua on a 30,000 kilometre journey around the Pacific, leading a fleet of seven open ocean sailing vaka as CEO of Pacific Voyagers ( The fleet sailed without modern sailing instruments to navigate by the stars in the wake of their Polynesian ancestors and with a message of ocean conservation.

Tua has returned home to Rarotonga to share with visitors his knowledge of the ancient skill of navigating by the stars, the importance of ocean conservation and the ocean’s spiritual role in Cook Islands’ culture, and tales of his incredible adventures at sea.

The 3 hour vaka voyages are available Wednesdays and Saturdays – and cost NZ$95 per voyager, including refreshments. Other days can be arranged for groups subject to weather.

The Aitutaki Adventure is offered once a month for six passengers and costs NZ$899 per voyager, including all meals and three nights accommodation. Two nights are spent at sea on the inter-island voyage and one night on spectacular Aitutaki Lagoon, sleeping in either your bunk, on the deck or on the beach of an uninhabited motu (islet).

The sail to Aitutaki takes around 18 hours in ideal winds and seas. Passengers are allocated to a watch to work shifts of three hours on, six hours off, alongside the professional crew of 10 and the Navigator, who is on-duty the entire voyage. Guests have the opportunity to learn all the skills of running a traditional canoe, plus traditional navigation basics.

“We launched Island Discoveries to deliver a different kind of island experience to our Manuiri (honoured guests). Our wish for you is to take home memories of warm people, beautiful surroundings and an understanding of our lives and our history that makes your visit to our country something that will touch your hearts and your minds,” says Tua.

“Our tours are about connection – connecting with our past, connecting with our culture and our environment and connecting with each other.”

Island Discoveries also runs other connection experiences for guests including ‘Dinner with Friends’ a dinner party with locals for 2 or more guests at an island home; ‘Whale Researcher for a Day’ – the only tour in the world where two guests can spend the day out with one of the world’s leading whale scientists helping with their vital research and bespoke shopping and arts tours which allow you to get up close and personal with the artisans and the products.

To book Island Discoveries email or phone +68 2 55884. Book both the 3-hour vaka cruise and the Navigating Pacific Skies dinner for the special combination rate of $180 per person.

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