A Morning At The Punanga Nui Market In Rarotonga
On a Saturday morning you will find the majority of the Rarotongan community, locals and visitors alike, down at the Punanga Nui Market. Showing off the best the island has to offer in the 130 plus stalls, you can find everything here from fresh foods and drinks to perfect souvenirs, local music and clothing.
Though, it is open throughout the week, the busiest day is no doubt on Saturdays. With a live show going on and the laid back vibes it provides the perfect social atmosphere.
Prince Edward performed at the opening of the Punanga Nui Market in 1992 and ever since it has been operating six days a week. After that it has been a tradition in the community to head there on a Saturday morning for both the locals and tourists.
This has provided the perfect opportunities to sell homemade goods and purchase some one in a kind souvenirs.
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When and Where Are The Punanga Nui Markets
Monday to Friday 8am until 4pm.
Saturday 8am until 2pm.
Saturday is the most popular day of the week to visit the Punanga Nui Market. Visiting on the weekdays you will find a lot more of a quieter atmosphere and a lot of the stalls empty. Though, there are some permanent eateries present so if you are looking for a quick bite check it out!
The market can be found off Ara Tapu Road near the Awatiu Harbor in Avarua. It is super easy to find when driving around Avarua and if it is a Saturday morning all the scooters parked out front will let you know you have arrived in your destination.
What To Expect
A Saturday morning at the markets is when all the best parts of Rarotonga come together in one place. The permanent stalls throughout the week merge with the temporary vendors to bring the freshest produce, delicious foods, fruity drinks as well as many souveiner shopping opportunities.
What sets the Punanga Nui Market apart from many other markets you might typically see is that it is not a flea market persay. The goods sold here are of high quality and you can truly feel the cultural influence as you are walking through. The whole thing is extremely well organised with plenty of places to sit down and a live show which keeps audiences captivated.
I must say if you have recently arrived in Rarotonga and have no idea what to do during your stay a visit to this market can keep make up your mind. All the best tour providers have stalls there where you can find out all about the best attractions and activities. Having staff in front of you also helps if you have any questions and you can book it in on the spot. There are also opportunities to purchase a tourist sim card.
What to Eat
My favorite part of any market, the food, and oh does the Punanga Nui Market deliver. You can find everything your foodie heart could ever desire here. Local favorites are abundant with taro, coconut, poke and ika mata (marinated raw fish). As well as western favorites such a pizzas, donuts, waffles and kebabs.
The fresh fruit smoothies here were absolutely amazing which is not suprising being in such a tropical environemtn. Though, one of my favorite things was trying all the amazing baked goods made my the local ladies. Home baking is oftentimes hard to get while on the road and this fullfilled all my needs. From danishes and crossiants to cakes, they are all made with love.
Oh, and for those who enjoy a little bit of aholol to end their day the Koteka Winery has a stall. Here they sell a varierty of wines and liqueurs made from local tropical fruits such as passionfruit and bananas.
What Souvenirs To Buy
This is the best place to buy all your souvenirs to take back home. There is something for everyone here from pearl jewelry, local clothing such as sarongs and incredible artwork to wood carvings and ukuleles. Basically anything you can associate with the Cook Islands you can find here.
One of my favorite items to purchase in the Cook Islands is the flower head crowns. These can be found all around in the market in a variety of colors. They even have fresh and fake ones avaiable, perfect for taking home or if you are allergic to flowers like me!
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