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Waterfalls of Rarotonga

Saturday 18 June 2022 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in Local, National

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Waterfalls of Rarotonga
Papua Vai Marere waterfall is located in Vaimaanga. Photo: Daniel Fisher/ 22061731

When most locals and visitors think about waterfalls in the Cook Islands the first and only one that comes to mind is Papua Vai Marere, which is also known as ‘Wigmores’ waterfall located in Vaimaanga.

But just seventeen kilometres away to the north sits an equally spectacular sight and waterfall that often gets overlooked.

Known to locals in Rarotonga as the waterfall of Takuvaine, this mysterious and natural wonder can be found tucked away on private property just past the national archives building in Takuvaine valley, which is within the limits of the Avarua Township, and can be viewed from roadside stops. 

It’s not as large as that of Papua Vai Marere or ‘Wigmores’ waterfall, which stands at approximately 49 feet in height, and sees two thousand cubic metres of water cascade over its crestline per day.

But what it lacks in size, the Takuvaine waterfall makes up for in the allure of its natural beauty and wonderment, as well as that of its secrecy and elusiveness for those trying to track it down. 

The waterfall’s secrecy and furious cascade is thanks to its placement along the many streams and waterways that stretches out across the island of Rarotonga, running from Titikaveka to Avatiu, which is the result of years of erosion from shifting tectonic plates.

Until recently, Takuvaine waterfall was relatively unknown to most visitors, and even to some of the island’s 7000 residents. But that all changed when some of the locals and visitors attempted to look upon the island’s elusive waterfall as a swimming hole, with many sharing photos of it online a few years ago.

Takuvaine waterfall. Photo: Facebook/Rauru Taea Fa’aui/ 22061731

“There are a number of waterfalls (which can be found) around Rarotonga,” explains Benjamin Maxwell, who works for the National Environment Service. “But the majority are not accessible via a vehicle as it goes through private properties and you have to hike to the waterfall location.” 

For many people wanting to experience this magical and scenic site it seems inaccessibility is the main reason that the waterfall in Takuvaine has remained elusive to most tourists and some of the locals living on the island.

Unlike Papua Vai Marere, which sees thousands of visitors stop by every year, Takuvaine waterfall sees fewer visitors and has remained largely unspoiled –thanks to its unauthorised and controlled access by landowners and caretakers, who live in the area and use the surrounding area for planting.

In the past this waterfall along with its south easterly counterpart and surrounding areas and streams was used as washing grounds.

For anyone coming to the island for the first time, the Takuvaine waterfall is a must see, along with a visit to the 49-foot Papua Vai Marere Fall which is the island’s largest waterfall and leads to the 1334-foot needle, called Te Rua Manga.