Punanga Nui Markets Avarua Rarotonga
Cook Island market day is every Saturday down at the Punanga Nui Markets (located in Avarua, which the locals call Town) for locals and visitors alike.
Locals tend to head to the markets early (before breakfast) to pick up bargains on fresh fruit and vegetables. Here local delicacies can be one third the price you will find them at the supermarket.
Most visitors take a more leisurely approach and tend to get to the markets mid morning. To get there you can either catch the Island Bus to Avarua or drive. Parking space is easily found down at the eastern end of the market.
At the eastern end of the market you will find an array of craft and clothing stalls selling colourful sundresses, pareu's, ukuleles, black pearls and jewellery. Be sure to look out for the Cook Islands tivaivai (quilts). They are beautifully handmade bedspreads of tropical designs and colours. The tivaivai art form is unique to the Cook Islands and are works of love by the women who spend hours making the sought after bedcovers.
The atmosphere at the markets is friendly and relaxed. You will rarely find sellers here who try to push their wares and bargaining is not an accepted custom in the Cook Islands.
You are naturally drawn toward the centre of the markets with the sounds of singing and laughter, and the gorgeous aroma of curries, BBQ's and satays. This outdoor food court is great place to sample some local delicacies, take a seat and soak in the atmosphere.
An example of what's on offer and price guide:
Waffles and ice cream $6, Curry $5, Satay Stick $2, Fresh Coconut $2.50, Pawpaw Smoothie $4,
Past the food court you come to the fresh fruit and veggie stalls. Growers come from all over the Cook Islands to sell their produce at this market. It's also a great place to buy Nonu Juice, the Cook Islands original natural tonic. You may find it for as little as $8 a bottle. Now that's a bargain.