[img:631469:alignleft:small:View from the top.]
The Cross Island Track is a half day hike that goes from the north to south ends of the island of Rarotonga. Most of the hiking is done on a well maintained trail, but the route is very steep in sections and will require some scrambling to get through it. Along the way is the summit of Te Rua Manga that would require class 4/5 climbing skills to attain the true summit. The Track can be completed without going for the summit and makes for a great half day outing while staying on the island. The views are incredible from the top of the ridge and the pristine jungle of chestnut and shampoo trees make the trek a very worthwhile endeavour.
The Cross Island Track is most successfully done north to south. Once in Rarotonga, catch a bus to Avarua (the major town on the island). Head to Ara Metua (Great Road of Toi) and take the road going up the valley behind the Pandanus gas station (near Avatui Harbor).
The road is called Uruau Drive. Take this road past the Avatiu Power Station where you will walk (or hitch hike, taxi) to the end of the road where the pavement ends. Here begins the Cross Island Track.[img:631462:aligncenter:medium:Info board at the trailhead.]
From the trailhead at the end of Uruau Drive, keep left on the road and go around the private landowners residences.
[img:631463:aligncenter:medium:Last of the clearings.]
The track starts very gently through a few open fields, then emerges into the thick undergrowth. After about 10 minutes of hiking through thick jungle, you will come to a final clearing with a large boulder (some say these carvings are from the Polynesians, but I think it's from roots causing water erosion - oh well!). Here you will cross the Avatui stream for the last time and you should veer to the right and begin the steep climb up (if in doubt follow the orange triangles that are posted on various trees and stubs throughout the trail).
[img:631466:aligncenter:medium:Large boulder - keep right and go up!]
After some class 2/3 scrambling and very steep, hot, and wet hiking, you will come to the top of the ridge (after about 45 minutes from the stream crossing).
[img:631467:aligncenter:medium:Sign at the top of the ridge.]
Here you will have the option to climb the needle (off to your right), or continue on the trail down to the south end of the island. Either path will work (straight or left). The path to your left is better marked and not as steep, but its a little longer. The path straight ahead is more direct and follows a white drain pipe. Both paths converge below near the first Papua stream crossing.
You will cross the stream a few times, so look for the orange triangle markers to guide you along. The track ends at Wigmore's Falls (aka Papua Falls) and have a swim if you can (but please remember that the water is part of the islands water source, so please be respectful).
Good hiking boots (route can be done in trainers though, maybe preferred if forecast is going to be wet)
Sunscreen, mosquito repelent, sunglasses, water, food
*There are a few tourists who get lost every year and are forced to spend the night out in the jungle. It's not the end of the world if you do, but it would make for an awful night swatting mosquitos away. If you plan on leaving late and don't have average navigation skills, consider bringing a coat and or overnight gear (or not going!). Remember, camping is NOT allowed on the island, and you will most likely be assessed the cost of any rescue party.
Also, water can be accessed from the streams lower on the mountain. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE STREAMS FLOW DIRECTLY INTO THE WATER SOURCE FOR THE ISLAND - PLEASE TREAT THE WATER SOURCE WITH RESPECT AND DIGNITY.
[img:631472:aligncenter:medium:Well deserved swim.]
Lastly, there are no snakes on the island (or any other bad little creatures). Centipedes can bite and paper wasps can sting, but other than that, there is nothing to fear as far as critters go anywhere on the island.
Here's a blog entry I found for a couple of folks who went with "Pa."