The Cook Islands

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Punanga Nui,
Avarua market

Avarua Market Pictures

Church, Rarotonga

Even before arriving on Rarotonga we had been told to check out the Saturday morning market at Avarua.

It's is one of the big events of the week and - like market days in old England - attracts a big cross-section of people.

Locals wanting fresh fruit and vegetables, stall holders selling arts and crafts or clothing, shop owners wanting to cash in on visitors, tourists mooching around for bargains and folk selling food and drinks.

We went to the Avarua market twice.

The first time was after flying in early that morning and we didn't get there until about 11am.

Church, RarotongaThat's a bit late as the market opens at around 7am and by the time we got there it was winding down and really didn't grab us.

The second time was much more lively - we got there at 9am - and we got caught up in the hustle and bustle of the moment.

The food stalls were great - prawn kebabs, fresh fruit smoothies, sizzled sausages, chicken wraps, homemade ginger-and-lemonade drinks and stunning crepes. My fave was the banana and custard one. Just wonderful.

The art and crafts stalls had woven flax bags, carved shells, wooden carvings of local gods, drums and turtles, while the clothing places had colourful shirts and sarongs by the truckload.

Now while it is a market, don't expect to get great bargains.

Most of the prices are about what you'd pay in local shops and you get the feeling it has become a tourist trap rather than a community market.

I don't have any problems with the locals making money off visitors - they have to make a living - it just wasn't what I was expecting the first time we went.

Second time around we knew the situation and were pretty comfortable picking up bags of souvenirs there.

Oh, and one must-do, is to get a chilled coconut to drink from.

- Richard Moore


Copyright 2011 RICHARD MOORE