Above: Leaving the pass at Maupiti and the dawn view of Rarotonga
We arrived at Avatiu, the only harbour in Rarotonga, at nine o'clock this morning, completing probably our most enjoyable passage to date. Last evening we saw an ominous line of dark clouds ahead of us – the frontal trough that had been forecast on the Grib weather files was exactly where it was supposed to be. Through a good dose of luck, though, we crossed the trough at a narrow point so only had about an hour of heavy rain and confused winds as we motored through it; another boat ten miles further south experienced several hours of rain and gusts of wind up to 50 knots.
Once we were through the trough, the wind swung around by about 180 degrees to the south east so for the rest of the night we could sail on a close reach at around 6 knots so we were spared the hours of motoring that we'd been dreading.
Rarotonga is another beautiful island with steep, rainforest-clad hills. Our brief exploration of the town has shown it to be very friendly and quite different in character to the French islands. Just as French Polynesia was full of French holidaymakers, Rarotongan shops echo to the chatter of Kiwis. The authorities, meanwhile, are a lot more thorough than the French – we've had no less than 4 officials come aboard Maunie to complete customs and immigration, confiscate any fresh fruit and veg and to spray the cabin for insects. This all involved us writing the same information on four different forms, of course, but we getting pretty quick at this now and can even remember our passport numbers without referring to them. It was all completed with plenty of good humour and laughter, though, so we warmed to the Cook Islanders even before we stepped ashore; if customs officials have a sense of humour, the normal folk must be a riot.
We're both feeling pretty tired after the voyage so tomorrow will be our first proper day of exploring; we'll update the blog with photos in a couple of days.