Our Holiday in Rarotonga | Whale Watching with Rongohiva Watersports

mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotongaOur last ‘organised’ excursion in Rarotonga was also the one that I had been looking forward to the most.

We had the amazingly good fortune of booking our trip during prime whale watching season – I cannot impress upon you how excited I was when I realised this!  Humpback whales migrate through the Cook Islands from July through October to mate, give birth and to rest.  The whole of the territorial waters of the Cook Islands are a whale sanctuary and we visited at the end of August through to September 8th.  

And did we see whales?

Two days after we arrived we were on a bus back to our accommodation after spending the morning at the Saturday Markets.  As we were heading out of Avarua, the main town, I saw a mama and baby humpback spouting a couple of times before the view was obscured by those damn coconut palms lol.  A couple of days later we ate dinner on the beach at Black Rock and watched the sunset whilst a pod of whales swam past, all spouting and doing some tail slapping.  Dave and E saw a whale breach quite close to them while they were on their fishing charter and I was insanely jealous, not going to lie!

So when it was finally time to head out with Jackie and the team from Rongohiva Watersports I was SO excited!  Aside from the knowledge that I was 100% without a doubt going to cry tears of joy if I saw a humpback lol.
The Eturere, Rongohiva’s 8.5m rigid V-hull inflatable, is the most insane boat I’ve ever been on – and I know my boats believe me.  Boasting twin 250 horsepower engines, I’m fairly certain this is the fastest boat in the Cook Islands! – with the best sound system and playlist.  And the most comfortable seats.  And the most smiley happy crew who were all so passionate about their jobs, the feeling on-board was amazing.

We decided to leave Nixon on the beach with Dave and I’m so glad we did as he has problems sitting in one spot, and the stress of wrangling him would’ve totally killed my peaceful-whale-vibes.  Tara, Ethan and I sat up front and soaked in the view as we headed out of the harbour.  Fate was smiling on us as I swear as we had just cleared the breakwater, not 5 minutes into our trip and we saw a humpback ahead.  On cue, I cried.  I’ve loved whales my whole life and finally getting to see a humpback was one off the bucket-list for me.  I was so overwhelmed I barely managed to snap any pics (SO, so unlike me I know!), but I’ll never forget seeing that big, beautiful tail playfully slapping the water.

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Our whale friend eventually moved on and we were treated to a little high speed fun on Eturere.  It was almost incomprehensible to be going SO fast, and be so comfortable and almost gliding across the water with no bump-jolt, up-down, crash-bash.  None.  At.  All.  This was the first time I had been out in the open water surrounding Rarotonga, and though it doesn’t translate in the pictures, the clear, cobalt colour of the water is equally as breathtaking (in a different way) to the bright turquoise water in the lagoons that are normally associated with Rarotonga.  Also no sea-sickness.  This boat is the business people!mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga

Let’s talk about gorgeous Jackie for a moment.  She was our amazing hostess and is half of the husband and wife team who manage Rongohiva Watersports.  Both Jackie (B.A.) and husband Teina (Ph.D.) are Marine Scientists and are very obviously passionate about what they do.  I have never actually seen anyone smile as much as Jackie does and her warmth and joy at being out on the water is totally contagious.  The crew were equally lovely, so safety conscious, funny and immensely knowledgable.  These are operators that show huge respect towards the humpbacks.  As soon as we spotted the whale, the Captain cut the engine and we didn’t move any closer toward the animal.  It was lovely being able to take this time to cry watch and appreciate what we were witnessing and swoon over our beautiful surroundings.

So, we saved the best for last.  I’m so, so grateful to Jackie and her wonderful crew for hosting us on an adventure I’ll never forget xx

  • For kids under 5, I would say whale watching is  a case by case basis.  My 2 year old is simply not chilled out enough to sit and enjoy the boat ride, he WILL not sit still, ever.  So this was not for him unfortunately.  Jackie is super helpful and kid-friendly – she’s a mum too – so chat with her about your family’s requirements if you have any questions.  
  • Rongohiva Watersports is not just all about whale watching, they also offer speed boat + swim, banana boat and snorkel + cruise packages or contact them for charter info and package bookings.mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotongamummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga mummy-blog-new-zealand-travel-bogger-rarotonga

On Holiday in Rarotonga | Rumours Waterfall Spa

Top Travel Blog new Zealand Rarotonga

When we first began planning our trip well over a year ago, there was one thing Dave was desperate to do in Rarotonga – go on a fishing charter, so we made this happen.  The one thing I wanted to do was to go to a spa and enjoy a blissful massage – read: an hour of peace and quiet, desperately needed when taking the kids on a 12 day vacation don’t you think?  Rumours Waterfall Spa made my wish happen for me and it was every inch the luxe experience I had hoped for.

Having never visited Rarotonga before I had no idea that Rumours was located a mere 150m walk from our rented accommodation, just south of popular Muri Beach.  After a quick stroll and Tara and I arrived a little early and sat outside because the lush, perfectly manicured garden was too pretty not to enjoy.

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Upon entering I noticed two things; the first was the number of awards that were tastefully decorating the walls.  Most recently Rumours was awarded Best Luxury Beauty Spa in Rarotonga, actually they’ve won the award every year since 2011!  There is no shortage of spas to choose from on the island so this is quite an achievement. Secondly, one can’t ignore the beautiful rock waterfall featuring in the reception area which instantly set the tone I was looking for, peace and tranquility.

We were booked in for 60min relaxation massages described as a smooth flowing massage that induces deep relaxation, improves circulation and ultimately relieves muscular tension. The ultimate stress reliever!

The treatment room was as you’d expect from a spa with such glowing accolades, spotlessly clean but also effortlessly comfortable.  I positively sank into the massage table and tuned out for the next hour.

I’ve had what I thought were full body massages before, but this was indeed a full body massage including my buttocks and face – both of which were amazing!  It makes so much sense that to relieve lower back tension you need to fully work on the big muscles in your butt!

The use of locally sourced coconut oil for the massage was the pièce de résistance.  I’ve always wanted to try this natural super-oil as a body moisturiser and let me tell you the proof is irrefutable!  My skin was transformed instantly and the super-hydration lasted for 2 days after the massage!

If you have saved and planned like we had, I absolutely recommend taking some time (and allocating some holiday budget) for yourself.  Rumours Waterfall Spa is without a doubt deserving of their many awards and their beautiful therapists are extremely skilled at what they do.  The whole experience was more than I had wished for and left me uber relaxed and in the right state of mind to enjoy the rest of my vacation.  

 

On Holiday in Rarotonga | Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes

We visited some amazing spots in Rarotonga on our family vacation and I’m going to share my favourite Kid Friendly activities right here.  Follow along for the entire series and hopefully you’ll get inspired to start planning your own Cook Islands adventure.


Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

As soon as I mentioned that our family was traveling to Rarotonga, the first place people recommended if they had visited The Cook Islands before was Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes.
Not going to lie, when I checked the website I was SO freaking excited!  After emailing an inquiry through and receiving a super quick response from Lynne, we scheduled our cruise for the day after we arrived in Raro.
Of all the excursions we had planned, I was the most worried about how Nixie would survive such a long day – on a boat!
We arrived to overcast, average day on Thursday which unfortunately deteriorated into a bit of a cold rain on Friday morning.  We were instantly cheered however, by the beautiful singing and drumming that greeted us upon our arrival at Captain Tama’s Muri Beach location.
After a quick (hilarious) intro we boarded our glass bottom boat and headed out into Muri Lagoon to go snorkeling.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThe lagoon is quite sheltered so don’t worry about a bumpy ride, plus the pontoon style boats are super stable so no need to worry about feeling seasick.
After a short spell of motoring, 15 minutes or so, we arrived at our snorkeling spot, stripped off and stepped overboard into the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.  People took their time, hopped in and out of the water, always assisted by one of the guides who stayed onboard, keeping a very watchful eye on all of their charges.
We had packed a flotation ring for Nixon so Dave and I took turns exploring the reef below and hanging out with our little guy who had a great time bobbing around, chatting to everyone and pointing out all of the ‘whales’ he kept spotting!Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyEthan was in the water before anyone else and was the last to get back on the boat.  He loved every second of it.  One of the guides was in the water showing people where to spot two huge moray eels so that was the icing on the cake for our big boy.  The fish were everywhere.  We saw Giant Clams, Butterfly Fish, Trigger Fish, Damsel Fish, Blue Fin Trevally, Parrot Fish, Needle Fish and so many more.  The incredible range and varied scale of marine life was so abundant that often you didn’t know where to look. We were all a little overwhelmed and so, so grateful for such a memorable snorkeling experience.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThere was another two year old on our boat and both he and Nix were totally happy throughout the lagoon trip.  I couldn’t believe our luck that Nixon was relaxed and loving his time on the boat.  This can definitely be attributed to the friendly, fun atmosphere that our guides made sure to maintain, even in the less-than-perfect weather.
After another short spell of motoring we pulled up to a gorgeous island in the lagoon and hopped off for lunch just as the sun came out.  The boats are flat bottomed so you literally disembark into ankle deep water.  There was an elderly gentlemen on board that the guys took such great care of, carrying him gently to and from the boat so don’t worry about accessibility!Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family
We had about 20 minutes before lunch was to be served so Ethan grabbed a snorkel and headed back to the water whilst we explored the beach with Nixon and tried to ignore the incredible smells wafting from the BBQ.
Women and children were served first, of course, and we were not disappointed.  We feasted on fresh tuna, grilled bananas, onions, potato salad, coleslaw, bread, oranges and papaya with coconut.  Ah.  Maze.  Zing.
We all had seconds…….and maybe thirds.
Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyMummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyEthan headed straight back to the lagoon and snorkeled his heart out for the next hour or so whilst we enjoyed a cultural performance including Rarotongan song, drumming, the complete coconut how-to guide from climbing the palm to making coconut cream, sarong lessons for both men and women and finishing with a hilarious haka.

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga FamilyThe day’s schedule was so well planned, there was value added at every transition.  All five of us thoroughly enjoyed our day with the boys from Captain Tama’s Lagoon Cruizes.
This is such a professionally run operation but one that retains it’s cultural authenticity.  We are in full agreement that we would all pay to visit Captain Tama’s again on future holidays in Rarotonga, the total package (plus the amazing food!) was totally worth the ticket price.  All you have to bring on board is a towel and a water bottle if you need one – all snorkeling equipment is provided.  

This is an excursion suited to all ages and after 12 days on the island I’m rating it a must-do (be prepared for tired kids – it’s too much fun!).Mummy Blog new Zealand TRavel rarotonga Family

* We were generously hosted by Captain Tama’s, however, all opinions expressed are my own. 

Dave Jack Does Paris

Another update from Dave, love this one!

Hello my beautiful wife,

Well after I got done talking to you this morning I packed my bag and made a plan. The plan was to go to see Jim Morrison’s grave and then make my way back to the hotel on foot and I should see a lot more this way. I found the nearest train station and started to buy my ticket across town, I must have looked like a pro because a lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for help on buying the right ticket! I pretended to not speak English and helped her buy the right ticket, I got a real big kick out of this ha ha! So after I pretended to be French I jumped on the train and headed to see good old Jim. Got there and made it to the grave site in minutes, standing there at his grave I had this funny feeling something is not right, then it hit me, here’s a dead rock star and I don’t have a beer in my hand. So always paying attention to my surroundings I remembered there was a grocery store about a block down the street. I ran down down the street and grabbed a beer and a sandwich, if you notice in the picture I grabbed the one that had the NZ name export 33 just had to represent. So back at Jimbo’s grave drinking my beer and taking it all in, not very peaceful as there are tons and tons of people walking by every minute, but still really cool. As the beer kicks in and I think to my self “Dave you are going to jump this fence and get a picture standing next to the grave”. So now I have a mission, like clock work this guy stand beside me and asks me to take a picture of him and his girl, I do then I hand him my camera and say your turn. As soon as he grabs the camera I turn around and jump the fence the crowd of people go ahh, I run up to the grave turn around and give him the thumbs up! The picture does not look the greatest but hey I touched Jimbo’s grave!! So I got that out of my system looked at some other famous dead people then I was out. Heading to see Notre Dame and what ever else I run into. I see a lot of cool things along the way and I try to eat as much as I can too. So get to Notre Dame and it’s pretty amazing. From the direction I walked I saw the back first, I crossed the bridge and headed around to the front. There was this cool place to take a picture of it from the side, so I walked up and proceeded to take a picture. It could of been my beer buzz but I did not see the top model crew setting up to take pictures of some chick. I was standing with a lot of other people taking pictures then these girls asked us if we could move. I started laughing and told the chick that they would have to wait to shoot there new postcard as this was a public place. The photographer heard me and man did he go wild ha ha ha I guess he was not making a postcard, yes I am a dick. So I moved on, bought a lot of gifts for the team along the way. Crossing the bridge to the Louvre I bought a lock and locked on the bridge, it says Dave +Melissa and like us it is not going anywhere, so when we make it back to France I will show you. So the outside of the Louvre is crazy, it’s getting late so I find the entrance and charge it. I go down the the stairs and right when I get to the ticket booth the lady puts the close sign up…fuck. So as I walk away I see one of the ticket girls and say I just missed out bummer and then for some reason I say “Go the All Blacks!” She looks at me and says “just you!” I nod, she grabs my hand pulls me through the crowd and gives me this ticket and says “we will get you next time” and winks. So sweet I am in! I look at the map and walk as fast as I can to the Mona Lisa as I figure I don’t have much time and I better see that. I make it Yus!! I take some pictures of it then a nice couple ask me if I will take picture of them, so then they took a picture of me perfect!! So now I am done legs burning as I sit at the hotel….. We are coming here next year I want to show you that lock! Xxx Ooo20120927-205704.jpg20120927-205731.jpg

Good Thing Bad Thing | Dave Jack, International man of Mystery

Dave Jack has been away for a month today. Obviously this is not ideal when you have a family but you have to look on the bright side.

  • Good thing: Dave has been to Frankfurt, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Lyon, Grenoble, Paris and Zurich has just been added to his itinery.
  •  Bad thing: I am so happy for him and proud of him but if I’m going to be honest I am also insanely envious.
  • Good thing: we are coping fine
  •  Bad thing: I know Dave has had some bad spells of homesickness
  • Good thing: I have kept myself busy while he has been gone
  •  Bad thing: mostly this has been with shopping $$$$
  • Good thing: Dave has bought us lots of lovely presents
  • Bad thing: these presents include a commemorative ABBA plate
  • Good thing: Dave is eating lots of amazing food
  • Bad thing: he’s not cooking for us anymore
  • Good thing: we’ve been able to FaceTime in every country
  • Bad thing: I miss the IPad {I’m a brat I know}
  • Good thing: Louie the Shi Tzu has been keeping me company in bed
  • Bad thing: Three’s a crowd, where will Dave sleep when he gets home?
  • Good thing: When you add in our America trip, Dave Jack pretty much missed all of shitty winter
  • Bad thing: Who am I kidding, there is nothing bad about that!
  • Good thing: only two more weeks to g0
  • Bad thing: Still two more weeks to go!

We miss you so much Dave xx

Dave Jack

Some days it’s hard to be a Mummy & other days you were right all along

I started writing a post on Sunday night after a very ‘ordinary’ day.  Don’t judge – this is life people, this is really how I felt, I am a great mother, a fabulous mother even but on Sunday I felt ordinary, acted ordinary and was definitely an ordinary mother;

Monday is so close now that I can almost feel the barrage of ‘hurry’, ‘don’t forget….’, ‘pack this’, get out of the house and don’t return for eight long hours. I do not like this feeling. Today has been a black day.
When I struggle with Dave being away for so long, I feel like a failure, the one-child mummy that couldn’t. As if having an only child doesn’t come with allowances for bad days. Everything is easy with just one right?
I’m not busier with Dave away, I do all the Ethan toting anyway, I’m not doing more chores really, I am cooking more eggs than normal but I can handle that, I’m not lonely – I have my Mum here so adult conversation is never far away. What I am is totally wiped from the massive emotional and attention requirement that Ethan now demands from just one person. That would be me.
I just wanted to run away {from him} screaming today. Far far away and screaming so I couldn’t hear MAMA? for the millionth time in an hour. Here comes the mummy guilt again. E has quite massive OCD tendencies and these manifested all damn day today. One thing after another, beginning with googling how to take care of catfish (this incorporated water temp, filter and pump requirements blah blah blah). He wants a catfish because he is obsessed with River Monsters and the Gooch catfish in India. We are not getting a catfish or a tropical aquarium. We have a perfectly good FREE Minnow type fish called Todd that was gifted to us (complete with tank and pump) just yesterday. Pet fish – check.
This was followed by the everlasting persistent request to move the aforementioned fish tank to the office by his laptop. I wasn’t getting to this fast enough and I was nagged about this relentlessly. The final round of the day was about getting a fishing rod down from the roof of the garage so he could play with it. Again, the nagging this child can inflict is without equal. God sure must love this little try-er.

The point of me even publishing this {I wasn’t going to, it was cathartic enough just to write it} is that today I got the damn fishing rod down from the roof of the garage, I found some hardy pliers and clipped the hook off the tackle, we found a suitable grab-nabber type toy and I tied this onto the sinker.  Ethan had his rod.  He was so happy, grateful and really just plain old dee-lighted to be catching giant catfish in the front yard.

I wondered why this was too hard for me to do on Sunday?  Why I hadn’t given him the 15 minutes it took to get the rod set-up?  Mama guilt.

Ethan played happily with his rod for at least an hour, how rad is my kid, I thought.  He could have been inside watching tv, playing on the computer or his iPod.  He could have been throwing a tantrum.  Oh snap, HE IS THROWING A TANTRUM.

A massive birds nest had snarled his line and oh god the world was ending.  And that was the end of fishing on the front lawn.

I knew there was a reason why I didn’t get that fishing line down on Sunday.

Front_lawn_fishing

Front_lawn_fishing

Saturday in Milan

I woke up this morning to a lovely email from Dave so thought I would share….

Well my day today was a good as it can get without you and the boy, let me give you a recap. Started off early this morning looking for a place to clean my clothes, thought I had it covered because the girl at the front desk circled a spot on my map so I headed that way. When I got there it was a drop off dry cleaning place.  Being stubborn like I am I was not going to drop off my clothes because I wanted to wash them my self. So before I left I noticed a street fair in the plaza across the way so I figured I should check it out seeing as what else do I have to do!  Being very early not all the vendors where set up so it was a little quiet, but I did find those amazing plates and a stand that sold cookies by weight, that was my favourite spot.  I wished Ethan was there with me so he could help me fill my bag up with all these amazing cookies, don’t worry Ethan I got a lot and ate enough for both of us. So full of cookies and plenty of time  to spare I jumped in the Panda {Dave’s rental car} as I was off to clean these clothes no matter what.

I drove all around the city with no luck so I decided to go to the next town over. When I thought all was lost at a red light I look over and notice this little clothes washing shop that said self service in the window!!!!! I got so excited I almost ran the red light. I quickly parked the car and walked in, there was a big Italian woman behind the counter and only one washer and one dryer in the shop, they were empty and I ran over trying to read the Italian the best I could to figure out how to work the machine. The big lady walked over and started talking to me trying to tell me how to operate the machine but as I don’t understand Italian and I quickly found out she could not speak English we started to play charades.  It was fun and funny and the big lady kept making fun of me but we got there in the end and my clothes are washed. So after that I went back to the hotel and put all my clothes away and decided that today I was just going to hang around the little city I am in and go back to that street fair and look around more.

I found out this place has bikes you can borrow for free so I got all set up and ran down stairs to grab a bike. Well of course with my luck all of the bike tires are completely flat except for one, it was just half way flat. So I figure with my my skills I should just take the one with the half way flat tires and just fill it up at the gas station no big deal right???? No, it’s a big deal because in Italy they use two different size fittings for bikes and cars so no luck there. With sweat pouring down my face and less air in the tires than I started with I sit on the curb of the gas station try to think my way out of this. Then I remember, when I was at the street fair the very first stall was selling bikes, if I could only get that far I bet they would have a pump that would work. So with determination I slowly start way way towards the centre city and about 6km later I make it it was a rough ride and my bottom is still a little sore but I am there and just like I thought they have a pump. So with a smile on my face I bike around the whole city taking pictures and just taking it all in. I ended up back at the street fair where I had a late lunch and a cold beer. Plus I got a little gift for Ethan and my baby! I love you guys tons and wish you where here with me team Jack rules!!!!!!!

Milan

Bicycle in Milan