Experience The Best Of Cook Island Culture With Te Vara Nui
One of the greatest ways to experience true Cook Island culture is not doubt with a visit to Te Vara Nui Village. With shows held three nights per week and set in an amazing garden you will regret it if you don’t go!
You can opt to do the cultural village tour or the over water night show & buffet dinner, or even better book the combo extravaganza and do both! With friendly staff, a gorgeous location and some impressive entertainment it is a great way to spend an evening.
A Warm Welcoming
Jumping off the minivan and heading into the lobby there is a dampness in the air. This is thanks to a large thunderstorm which passed less than an hour ago. Though, luckily the facilities are all undercover. One of the friendly staff greet us with shell necklaces and directs us inside where we line up and check in.
A complimentary drink is provided and we take in the beautiful view of the pond, as well as the surrounding restaurants. We sip away as all the guests arrive for the cultural village tour.
Soon with everybody checked in a loud thundering noise comes from the middle of the room. A man is standing there introducing himself to the crowd in his traditional flax woven clothing.
The Village Tour
We follow him outside and through to a large gate, the beginning of the cultural tour. Through that gate we enter a building and learn about the history of Rarotonga and the other motus in the Cook Islands.
Then its on to learning about the marae, which are extremely different to the New Zealand version, and afterwards discovering local medicine and its uses. Next, we follow one of the gentlemen into another building where we are shown the local boats and how they navigated the seas back in the day. Lastly, its time to learn about the clothing and how it is made. More volunteers are needed and we all have a good laugh, but not before one more demonstration on coconuts and the importance they have in the Cook Islands.
After the interesting cultural village tour and having gained a whole new appreciation to the Cook Islands culture it is time for the buffet dinner portion of the evening. With darkness setting upon us we are sat in our preallocated seats and mingle among our diner mates.
Drinks are ordered including the ever so popular cocktails to get the evening going. Soon enough dinner is served and each table is brought up one by one. There is an amazing selection, even for the fussy vegetarian eater like me.
Each dish is labelled with its name, whether it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and if it is a local dish or not. Having a buffet provides the perfect opportunity to try new foods.
A soup is also on offer which tames the hungry stomachs of those who have to wait a little longer for their table to be called. Everything you would imagine is available. Including the local favorites of poke and orange salad are available, to the western favorites of scallop potatoes and even sushi!
Also if you have children, do not worry, there are plenty of options for them.
Amazing Over Water Show
As people begin to full up after their second and third helping the lights begin to dim for the over water show. Seats are taken on the front of the restaurant overlooking the pond and the anticipation grows among the crowds.
Soon the live band starts playing. One of the local legends are told and shown through the dances of the performers. Both on the stage and on the surrounding water their amazing moves captivate both the crowds and their cameras.
Men with fire sticks dance around the stage while lighting some of the candles. The women hypnotize the audience with their hips. Each segment of the show is finishes with a massive cheer from the crowd.
Delicious Dessert To Finish The Evening
After the amazing over water show the dessert is served. Which is good because all that clapping has worked up an appetite. A delicious spread of a variety of dishes is set on the buffet tables. From fresh fruit like papaya and watermelon to chocolate cakes and tiramisu.
It is the perfect way to end the evening and fulfills my sweet tooth cravings. While this is going on the dancers come around to the restaurants to interact with the guests. They show off their moves up close and personal while our cameras keep snapping.
Once the electric moods starts to die down as people prepare to depart we head off into the wet Rarotongan night. This experience has truly opened my eyes to the Cook Islands culture. Especially, providing me with greater opportunity to understand the history.
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Backpackers Wanderlust was a guest on the Combo Extravaganza Tour with Te Vara Nui Village while in The Cook Islands, however, as always, all opinions are my own.