Rarotonga in the Cook Islands has a population of approximately 13,000 people and we were really looking forward to spending time within this island community and sharing our shark conservation work with people that are surrounded by the ocean and different shark species on a daily basis.

We arrived after our week in Vancouver to glorious sunshine and the hot, sticky weather of the Rarotongan wet season. We were expecting the heat and it wasn’t long before we were moving more slowly, covering ourselves in insect repellent and sleeping during the hottest part of the days. Even the dogs liked to cool off with a daily swim in the ocean.


We stayed at a friendly, clean and welcoming backpacker accommodation throughout our visit called Rarotonga Backpackers, which we would recommend to anyone visiting the Cook Islands. The hosts are very knowledgeable, the hostel is situated on the beach and the views at sunset are outstanding. There were plenty of coconuts, paw paws, star fruit, guavas and other unknown fruits available for harvesting and we tucked into our tropical diet with gusto! It certainly made a change from our usual budget diet of rice, eggs and lentils. We were also donated spare food by fellow travelers and truly appreciated their generosity – especially when they shared coconut rum and limes.

The hosts at Rarotonga Backpackers kindly lent us their spare fins and snorkels and we really enjoyed daily snorkeling trips from the beach at various points from our accommodation. The full details of the marine life we found can be found at my forthcoming blog on The Scuba News.


After we had caught up on sleep, others’ travel stories and snorkeling it was time to focus on our Friends for Sharks school events. I was unsure how we would be received by the community given our cultural differences and I was also intrigued to see if the students enjoyed and related well to our work with Great White sharks. In true Rarotongan style, the teachers and students we met were all exceptionally welcoming, polite and interested in our cause. They were interactive and keen to learn about shark conservation despite the heat within the classrooms and the constant buzzing of mosquitos around our heads at times. We spent time at Tereora College, Te Uki Ou School, Nukutere College and Titikaveka College. It is always a privilege sharing our work with different age groups and we presented to 4 – 18 year olds and varied our content to suit the different ages of the students. We were particularly humbled by the welcome we received at Nukutere College when they presented us with flower garlands during their school assembly and directed their morning prayer towards protecting the environment and oceans around the world.



After finishing our week of events we took some time away from Friends for Sharks to discover Rarotonga in more depth and to regroup before heading to New Zealand. The weather was mostly cloudy during our time off but we made the most of exploring the island using the buses. There are two local buses; one runs clockwise all day and the other one runs anti-clockwise. The bus system is a great way to explore the island on a budget and we enjoyed the coastline, local market and botanical gardens. We often saw islanders with beautiful flowers in their hair, smiles upon their faces and cheerful ‘hellos’ for everyone they passed. We began to understand that there is a strong sense of community on Rarotonga despite it being a tourist-focused island. We met families and couples that had moved from New Zealand to Rarotonga and each spoke to us about how inclusive the Cook Islanders are to those that make it their home.


Saturday Market

The sun reappeared towards the end of our time on the island and we enjoyed a day to be remembered on Friday 13th March …unlucky for some but not for us! It was the day that Nicholas and I went scuba diving with Pacific Divers and Nicholas asked me to marry him. I of course said YES once I had recovered from the shock and surfaced from our scuba dive. For the full story of Nicholas’s underwater proposal please see this link.


Nick & Moet

At the time of writing this we are in Christchurch, New Zealand and will be touring the North and South islands for six months. We have plenty of events booked and more being organised almost daily. I am particularly looking forward to sharing this magical country with Nicholas and exploring nature at her most beautiful and wild.

On a final note…we have presented to 1416 people about the plight of sharks since we began our World Tour in January 2015! This is a great achievement for us and we will be presenting to many more audiences in the weeks and months to come. Onwards we go.