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Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

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Auckland Central...
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Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

I'm coming to Raro for a week at the end of October and am keen to kayak around the Island, taking a few days in an inflatable kayak. I can roll it up at the end of the days paddle and jump on a bus back to my self catering accom. I plan to stay inside the reef. Does anyone have any experience or tips for this experienced seakayaker, first time to Raro?

Rarotonga
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1. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

Kia Orana Nigel,

Best tips:

1) High tide will be your only option - you can check the tide times in the daily paper (Cook Islands News)

2) Bring a puncture repair kit - the lagoon is not very forgiving

3) Perhaps plan to do the bottom 1/2 of the island instead of all the way round - gets very shallow North

4) Stay well clear of the passages (gaps in the reef) - strong currents

Pakou

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2. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

Kia Orana Nigel, welcome to the forum.

The lagoon areas from Betela in the far SW corner through to Avana and immediately before the passage/harbour entrance in this locality of Ngatangiia have sufficient depth to paddle, but also lower abundance of coral heads. In fact there are some excellent sections of the lagoon for paddling, outside the unsafe passages along the southern side of the island.

Mostly from Avana immediately north of the Avana Apartments (top SE corner) through to Black Rock in the NW corner, the lagoon is unsuitable due to factors including proximity of the reefline close to shore; high abundance of coral heads; shallow water; but also turbulence from Avana Point through to Avarua harbour. There are parts of the Arorangi lagoon that are also navigable. In other words a major part of the lagoon will disrupt your kayaking plans unless conditions are peak, and the wind and tide is right on the day. The new jetty at Arorangi (immediately outside Arorangi school) is another unsafe passage to be very aware of.

I suggest that you study the entire length of your planned route before you set out. Know where the reef passages are located (new signboards on the beachfront clearly indicate these sites). Tell someone what your plans are for each day you set out. Take plenty of fresh water, sunshade, sunscreen and hat. In areas of the lagoon where you feel an undercurrent/tow paddle towards the shoreline so that you are visible and avoid unsafe areas in doing so.

Check with several paddling clubs when you arrive in case some of their members are interested in accompanying you on various stages; either from a chaser boat beyond the reef or in kayaks inside the lagoon.

Good luck with your sense of adventure. Perhaps we'll hear more from our local media once you set off?

Kia manuia.

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3. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

Please do post back after your adventure, would love to hear how it went.

I'd be very leery of doing it in an inflatable.

I hooked up w/one of the paddling clubs while I was in Raro and paddled w/them in the outriggers (canoes), during their practice session at Muri Beach, had a marvelous time!

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4. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

Thanks for your prompt reply and for the local knowledge and tips you have offered. I am aware of the many of the hazards mentioned and my paddling will probably be dictated by wind and tides. Inflatable kayaks these days are quite sturdy with good abrasion protection from heavy duty outer covering. I'm pretty relaxed about where to commence but you suggestion of the South western coast is good. What inspired me was re-reading the Paul Theroux account in his book 'The happy isles of Oceania'

Will post later with updates - Nigel D

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5. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

Hi there, Got back last week from my trip to Raro and circumnavigated the island by inflatable kayak I took up with me. Used the tide and wind to help. Trip went according to plan. First day left at Avana Harbour (Fishing Club) 10.30am just on high tide. Paddled clockwise staying in lagoon but ventured out to the reef for a look, and closer in checking out the resorts. Tailwind all the way. Lunch at 130pm at Saltwater cafe, Lovely! Got to Aroa beach around 3.30 and had time for a swim/snorkel before catching bus back to my motorbike at 4.30.

No trouble with the three passages if you stick by the beach and even crossing them halfway out was no drama, channel was clearly visible and the water a little choppy.

Second day returned to DiveCentre (Aroa) and left 9:30 with incoming tide. Arorangi passage/wharf area was no problem with water very deep and blue! Sped around to Avarua staying close to shore, keeping lookout for rocks/coral and checking out the accommodation on the west side.Got out just before the breakwater,just on high tide, working thru the waves.

Day three Put in just north of the Avana harbour entrance 1.30. Wind had dropped and surf/swell not bad so got over the reef and back again several times before arriving at Trader Jacks for a few drinksat 4pm. Completed the day by paddling round to breakwater and into the Avatiu Port.

Obviously I did a recce. by bike of the proposed trip. Would like to get outside the reef to circumnavigate but 35k winds and huge swells prevented that. Caught up with the Waka ama crews training after work. They reckon they can get around in a bit over 3 hours! Thats about 12 kph - Might be encouraged to join the local club here in Te Atatu!

6. Re: Circumnavigate Rarotonga by Kayak.

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