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Tourism enhances safety for Cross-Island Trek with new signage

Tuesday 28 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in National, Travel

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Tourism enhances safety for Cross-Island Trek with new signage
Cook Islands Tourism, in collaboration with Cook Islands Triathlon, and The Edgewater Resort and Spa, has installed a new safety sign with maps, tips and emergency contacts for the popular Cross-Island Trek. TOURISM/24052718

Cook Islands Tourism in partnership with other stakeholders has installed a new safety sign with maps, tips and emergency contacts for the popular Cross-Island Trek.

In a statement, Tourism states that this initiative, is a collaboration with Cook Islands Triathlon, and The Edgewater Resort and Spa, highlighting the partners’ collective commitment to ensuring the safety and enjoyment of all visitors exploring the island’s interior landscapes.

The three newly installed signs, officially blessed on Thursday last week, provide essential safety information and guidelines to assist trekkers on the challenging yet rewarding Cross-Island Trek.

The signs include: Trail Map: A comprehensive map detailing the trek route, timings, elevation, significant landmarks, and emergency exit points; Safety Tips: Practical advice on trek preparation, including recommended supplies, proper footwear, and hydration tips and Emergency Contacts: Key contact numbers for local emergency services.

Brad Kirner, Cook Islands Tourism’s director of destination development, emphasised Tourism’s dedication to visitor education and safety, stating, “The Cook Islands are blessed with stunning natural landscapes, which we love to see our visitors exploring. However, we must do everything in our power to ensure they can do this in a safe and responsible manner.”

Kirner said Cook Islands Tourism is continuously seeking ways to enhance the visitor experience and is exploring additional measures to further improve safety and enjoyment across all tourist attractions.

The Cross-Island Trek is one of Rarotonga’s most popular hikes. Spanning from the north to the south of the island, the trail offers breath-taking views, lush rainforest, and the iconic Te Rua Manga (The Needle), the statement said.

In 2022, concerns were raised about an increasing number of visitors underestimating the difficult and sometimes treacherous climbing conditions, following rescue missions led by Cook Islands Police.

Authorities repeatedly expressed frustrations as resources were limited and there were calls for penalties and a user pay system.

Police spokesman Trevor Pitt then said that preventative advice and promotion of risks was not working.

After calling for penalties, he suggested a user pays system.

“The trek cannot be underestimated and the continued search and rescue of visitors highlights the need for that awareness to be the broader responsibility of the community, and operators in the tourism sector,” Pitt said in November 2022.

“Police leadership want to see greater preventative steps, and are again calling for more awareness and advice for those inclined to undertake the cross-island trek.”