Kia Orana & welcome to Atiu Guesthouse
We would like to take you on a virtual tour across our island. We start at the Atiu Guesthouse.
Walking towards the centre of the island along the main road, we pass a round-about behind which is the small shop of the Atiu Development Corporation.
Local growers bring their produce and one of the local bakers, whose bakery is located on the other side of the island, brings bread to our shop to save our customers a trip to his bakery.
Staying on the left side of the road, we pass the hospital and Dental Clinic. Though our population has shrunk to some 550 people, we are fortunate to have a resident doctor, well trained nurses and a dental officer on the island. Both medical and dental students like to come to Atiu for short-term practical training.
Across the road from the hospital you see St. Anthony, the Catholic Church. 2009 is an important year for St. Anthony: the church was erected 100 years ago.
The large colonial building on the other corner of the crossroads was erected as home for the New Zealand resident agents who administered the islands after their annexation to the British Empire in 1888. It is now used as office building for our local island government.
New Zealand taxpayers donated the Women’s Centre, a thatched house next to the Atiu Nui Hall. At times the Atiu women use it to sell home-made crafts or plates of cooked food to raise funds for community projects.
The majestic building of the Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) is said to be the largest in the Cook Islands. Atiu was the first island to build a lime stone church of which early missionary accounts mention that it was so prominent that it could be seen from far out at sea. Its unique bell tower was added in the 1950s.
Right next to the Sunday school behind the Boys Brigade ground across from the church we find the office of Air Rarotonga, our country’s national airline.
Opposite Jumbo Bakery we find another church: that of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). They celebrate their Sabbath on Saturdays. For all other religious denominations, 6 altogether, Sunday is the day of the Lord. The Centre Store next door carries the widest variety of goods on the island.
We turn right at Teenui’s two-storey meeting house to follow the signboards that lead us to The Atiu Fibre Arts Studio. The unpaved road winds past pig pens and a family graveyard to the textile art gallery. Images of the art works and more information can be found on the company’s own website.
We return past the graves and the pigs and the ADC Filling Station and turn left. Soon we reach Enuamanu School. From Kindergarten to fifth form, 154 students fill its classrooms. The school tries hard to keep up with modern times and our students learn the use of computers, have (limited) access to the internet for their homework research and a small library on site so they don’t forget what books are used for.
At times, we guess the children’s mouths must water when the bread is ready in the large stone-oven of next door’s Akai Bakery, or when the delicious smells of freshly roasted coffee wafts down through the air from the Atiu Coffee Factory which is just at the next corner.
We want to take you down through the makatea now, the raised fossilized coral reef that is, in most parts, overgrown with lush tropical rain-forest. On the slope we pass one of our coffee factory’s plantations. The road ends at the runway and when we look left we can see the airport building in the distance. Atiu’s first airport was built in 1978. Works for this new airport, whose crushed coral airstrip is long enough to land a 32-seater Saab, commenced in 1982.
Following the road we reach the harbour, Taunganui Landing. Visitors who landed here in the early 1900s would have seen strong men carrying cargo across the coral reef on their backs. In 1975 the New Zealand Army helped Atiu to build the harbour as we see it today.
We keep following the road and get to Orovaru, Cook’s Landing. Captain James Cook never touched land on the 3rd of April 1777, but instead sent ashore his Lieutenant Gore, commander of the Discovery, and Tahitian interpreter Omai.
We take a detour which takes us to Te Roto, Atiu’s lake. The fresh water hole is surrounded by taro plantations that form a patchwork of different shades of green. Taro tubers are an important part of the Polynesian’s daily diet.
Continuing our way uphill we meet the main road just left of the Atiu Villas where you will also find "Kura’s Kitchen". We turn left and, on our way home, pass Aunty Parua’s Terangi Nui Café, Atiu’s other restaurant. Both places require you to book your meal in advance, preferably before 3 PM, because our island has never had enough visitors at a time to make à la carte dining possible.
In approximately 10 minutes we will be back where we started, at the Are Manuiri, our guesthouse. We trust that the images of our island have cast their spell on you and entice you to book your stay with us during your next vacation.