Te Rua Manga (The Needle), Rarotonga, Cook Islands

An Eery Hike To Te Rua Manga (The Needle).


Being with other travelers made the week a completely different experience to the one with my folks. Rather than family dinners and evenings in, I skinny dipped under the light of the moon, I straightened a man’s hair and myself and another backpacker ended up in a dance competition – we came in second! This week was immensely fun, and hiking Rarotonga’s most popular cross-island trek, Te Rua Manga (The Needle), was a highlight.



I corralled an eager group from the hostel and after a filling breakfast of pancakes, we took the bus to Avarua Town to begin the hike. Any brochure, guidebook or local will provide exact directions – don’t worry it’s super easy to find the start of the trail. Within minutes of our ascent, sweat beaded on our skin as the humidity in the forest was like being in a hot yoga class. 3km and 3 hours to go. Oh no!

We trekked up the path towards Te Rua Manga with all our strength. Our thighs burned, our butts tightened with every step. The feel of the ground became familiar – rocks, branches, mud, slippery leaves – that when one of my steps caused a loud clanging sound it jarred me out of my exercise funk. I looked down and beneath some dirt and branches was a gray, metal hatch. I frantically yelled ahead to tell my friends to hurry back. We stared, confused by this item being out of place. One of the guys tried to pry it open, with no luck. I mentioned that this felt eerily similar to the TV show Lost. With that comment, we bolted up the mountain.

We arrived at Te Rua Manga (The Needle), a towering rock formation seen from anywhere on the island. The 360-degree view was well worth the torture. Thank goodness it was all downhill to the coast. Although the terrain was like a slip and slide, as evident by my muddy backside, I could wash off the hike when we finally made it to Wigmore’s Waterfall and Lagoon. We jumped into the inviting cold water which awoken us from our tiredness. We slowly walked the short distance to the main road to take the circle island bus back to our hostel. What a great adventure to end my spontaneous extra week.


The Best Time To Go To Rarotonga

January – February are the warm months, but also when Aussies and Kiwis have their summer breaks. Prices are high at this time. We went in March and it was perfect! Fewer tourists and lower housing costs.


How much New Zealand Dollars to bring (their local currency)

  • Hostels: $20-30 per night
  • Average meal out: $10-20
  • Beer: $4-6
  • Milk: I won’t even tell you how much a liter costs – it’s shocking
  • Cooking costs: Select groceries are pricey due to shipping costs. Budget $70-85for the week


*These photos were taken in 2006 when I was still using a camera from 1986. Sorry for the quality not being up to par. Let’s just say they are vintage!*