If you have an evening to soak up Cook Islands’ culture and just one choice, we recommend you experience the Te Vara Nui Village experience. Brimming with tours, live shows with dance and song, delectable island cuisine and more – this will be an evening to remember.
A Cook Islands holiday needs to include certain key elements – like cocktails by the beach, scuba-diving, jungle safaris, fishing charters and … an introduction to the rich Polynesian culture of Cook Islands.
Enter Te Vara Nui, a village where travellers can spend an evening getting a QuickLook 101 at what makes Cook Islands and its people just so wonderful. Set in Ara Tapu, the village is a great place to visit for all travellers, regardless of age, number and type. Te Vara Nui offers a complete insight into the island life in two distinct segments – one is a tour of all the different facets of life that are intrinsic to the Polynesian culture; the second is a full-on entertainment bonanza with live song-and-dance performances, dinner and drinks.
The tour opens at 5:00pm, where travellers are welcomed into the village with traditional ‘turou’ greetings. Armed with a glass of bubbly, visitors are escorted to the first arena, which is the ‘history hut’. Here, guides will lead guests into a virtual time-lapse segment of Cook Islands’ history, its legends, myths and famous figures. Learn about the island’s ancient cannibalistic beliefs and its ceasing, advent of missionaries and the spread of Christianity, the legendary ‘seven canoe’ migration and so on. Then, after a visit by the village’s traditional ‘marae’ or meeting grounds for the village’s high chiefs, visitors are led to the witchdoctor and the fishing hut, where the two are explained by the huts’ respective guides. The Fishing hut will also touch upon Cook Islands’ tattooing traditions and pearl farming.
Of particular note are the Carving and the Costume Huts up next, where the islanders’ amazing skills with natural fibres and wood is displayed for all. The carving hut will also showcase the islanders’ musical instruments and a little of the dance forms – note that visitors are invited to learn the moves and shake those lovely hips, so wear comfortable shoes! The last hut is dedicated to the humble and ever-important coconut tree. A guide will expound upon how this ‘tree of life’ is used in almost every facet of island life.
The second item on the menu is the overwater island night show. After the tour ends, the village sets up a fantastic evening. There is a performance which showcases the legend of the warrior Tongaiti. As the story goes, this warrior chief sets off on a voyage across the oceans with his tribe on a sailing ship in search of magical floating islands. When he found the island, the natives were not really inviting and rudely shoved the explorers off. Tongaiti had the idea of sending his daughter to catch the island chief’s eye, which she did. The explorers were allowed to step ashore and settle – because now they were in-laws, of course. And this is how Rarotonga was settled!
This was of course, a very crude n’ rude precis of the lovely story, which is performed with great gusto by dancers, singers and musicians at the Te Vara Nui village. To accompany the entertainment is an island/Western fusion buffet dinner. Travellers can book the tour and the island night separately, but it’s so much better to club the two together in a single evening of fun and fervour! Also, our South Pacific Specialists and the village reservations team will ensure return transfers from whichever hotel or resort travellers are staying at – just one of the many ways our Cook Islands holidays deals are so sought-after.
The Te Vara Nui village is a unique offering which offers international travellers a glimpse into the raw, beating heart of Cook Islands culture. To book this tour along with your Cook Islands holiday, talk to our South Pacific Specialists today!
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