Monday, July 26

The Aranui Experience: Nuku Hiva

On the Aranui’s usual run Ua Pou is the second port of call but our schedule was altered because of taking in the solar eclipse at the end.
After leaving Fakarava we sailed all the next day and reached Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva on our third morning.
All the Marquesas are volcanic with jagged peaks, higher than Rarotonga’s – some are over 1000m. There were no coastal plains on the islands we visited and no surrounding coral reefs. The islanders live in the valleys but most of the settlements are small.
Nuku Hiva has about 2600 inhabitants with 1700 living in Taiohae, the centre of administration of the Marquesas. The island’s area is 340 sq km. Compare this with Rarotonga’s area of 67 sq km and population of between 10,000 and 14,000 (depending on whose figures you believe and whether you include visitors or not) and you can see that the Marquesas -Te Fenua Enata to the locals – are remote, rugged and sparsely populated.
Shore excursions are included for passengers on the Aranui 3 so once again we took whaleboats to the wharf then piled into 4WD vehicles for a drive across the island to the village of Hatiheu for lunch Chez Yvonne. Umukai food – very nice and lots of it.
We had a choice after lunch of a swim, a 40 minute hike to a viewpoint or a 20 minute walk to a marae.
Once an estimated 90,000 people lived in the Marquesas but nowadays the total is less than 10,000. However this means that the islands have many archaeological sites of villages and marae from earlier times. Some of these have been excavated and restored including the one we visited, Paeke near Taipivai. We had a stiffish uphill walk to reach the site and some of the older folk took over an hour to get there.
Everyone made it this time but some people gave later hikes a miss!