I wake up really early and look out of the window to see the coconut palms swaying madly in the wind. I lie there hoping that the weather picks up a bit later, it going to be a very long 2 weeks here if it rains a lot. By 9am though its bright sunshine and lovely and warm, not as hot as Fiji but warm enough for a skirt and t-shirt which is perfectly acceptable.

Simon goes off to see if he can get us a car for the day. I have read that we need to buy a Cook Islands driving licence so I’m surprised when he returns after 20 minutes with a car. Well rust bucket, more to the point- for 55 NZD (around 22 quid) we have the pleasure of driving the biggest pile of crap car for the day. We pack up our stuff and pile it all in. To get the driver licence we need we have to go somewhere up the road and in the end after a short discussion decide not to bother. Possibly a slightly irresponsible decision but it will cost us and as the island is so small and quiet we figure we’ll take our chances.

The Island of Rarotonga is the largest and best known of the Cooks and we head off clockwise to circumnavigate it and find somewhere to stay on the way. We want to stay in the South East area of Muri near the lagoon but stop off at most places we pass to check prices and availability. After half an hour it’s not looking good, the beachfront locations seem expensive and many places we try are full. Hmm! Seems like we may struggle to fulfil our requirements of somewhere luxurious and dirt cheap! We eventually find a place that can offer us 2 beach bungalows for 200 dollars.

The problem is that the pool is horrible and there isn’t any restaurant or bar attached. I can see us going steadily mad through total inactivity and we decide to get back in the car and keep going. We pass several lovely places, although very expensive I’m beginning to think we should just go for it anyway but when we ask children aren’t allowed. Back to square one.

By now we have travelled almost right around the island. It’s very pretty and so peaceful with a spectacular coastline. All we have passed are a few shops and churches and we decide to try the islands largest resort as a kind of last hope. Thank god for concrete and over development, although Edgewater Resort wouldn’t usually be our ideal holiday destination we manage to secure a large modern apartment block with two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and lounge area and breakfast included for 225 NZD (About 86 quid a night) As we are paying so much it is really important that we have cooking facilities in order to save us some cash and we’re really pleased we’ve managed to get something sorted out albeit only for 5 days. (The only availability they had)

We drive round to the apartment block. It’s in the middle of the resort and not particularly pretty but good value and fairly plush inside. We’ve certainly been staying in far better quality accommodation more recently; I can’t remember the last time I made my own bed. How lazy. We leave the kids playing on the laptop and head off in the rust bucket to the shop. We end up spending about 100 NZD and get 3 days worth of lunches, dinners and snacks for that. (Definitely a lot cheaper than eating out)

Back at the apartment we get dinner fixed, a very humble beans and cheese on toast with fruit and icecream for pudding. The kids love it and we sit watching some crappy horror cuddled up on the sofa together -Yeh for slobbing out.

Heading to the Cook Islands

Saturday 18th August 2007-My first thought is that I want to phone someone at home this morning just to say “I’ll speak to you again yesterday” and as I have 5 minutes calling credit left on a phone card I give mum a quick ring before breakfast. Peterina comes and sits with us until we leave at 10.I’m impressed she made it to say goodbye as she tells us she was out partying until 5am with some guests from the hotel.

We wave our goodbyes and get in a taxi for the airport. We sit reading and before long board our flight to The Cook Islands. The flight time is just over 3 hours and the time when we arrive is around 5pm. (Friday 17th August 2007) – Weird!!

We have booked a hostel within walking distance of the airport but I’m a bit upset when we look out of the plane window to see heavy rain. Anyway by the time we have been through immigration it’s stopped but it isn’t that warm and I’m definitely going to need to change into warmer clothes.

The hostel looks ok, right on the beach, we have a big room to share and the view out of the window is great. The fella tells us that the humpback whales are migrating past Rarotonga at the moment and to keep an eye out for them. We shower and change quickly and head to the bar to see if we can get some food. It is going to cost us a lot of money here for the next few weeks and it’s a bit of a shock when they tell us its 25 New Zealand Dollars (NZD) each for dinner, the hostel is 120 NZD and I can feel the cash draining away already.

We have our meal, a BBQ buffet and chocolate cake and ice-cream for pudding and watch the band. There is a wedding party going on and I feel sorry for the bride and groom. I guess when you go all that that way for a tropical wedding you hope the weather will be fantastic. As it is, it’s pissing down with rain and looks like a cyclone has struck outside. Not quite the photos they had hoped for!

We head back to our room, I go to sleep and Simon and the kids watch some film on the laptop. Tomorrow we are thinking of hiring a car for the day so we can drive around the island and try and get some decent accommodation that won’t completely break the bank. Hmmm! Could be difficult!