I’m sitting at the rear of a pilot who has flown this method 1000’s of times. But even following more than 40 decades, you can inform Air Rarotonga’s chief pilot Munro Hockin continue to enjoys Aitutaki. It is normally referred to as the most attractive lagoon in the entire world, and from my seat in the cockpit, it’s easy to see why.
The island’s well-known A single Foot Island arrives into perspective as we glide reduce. Captain Munro factors out some of his favourite areas of the lagoon as he disengages the autopilot, and normally takes the controls.
Aitutaki appears like a minor slice of the Maldives, but it is a lot closer to residence. Air New Zealand operates codeshare flights with Air Rarotonga, this means you can fly from Auckland to Aitutaki on one particular ticket, reaching paradise in two flights that choose a full of 6-and-a-50 percent several hours.
On a new flight, we were given unique entry to the cockpit for landing to see what it is like to make one of the world’s most attractive strategies.
Rarotonga to Aitutaki, which is about 263 kilometres – or about the exact traveling length from Wellington to Napier. We flew at 16,000 ft.
A 34-seat Saab 340B Moreover, which experienced its initial flight in 1995, creating it pretty much 28 years previous. The plane commenced its life with Japan Air Commuter prior to switching to Air Rarotonga in 2018.
The airline has two Saabs, two Embraer EMB 110 and a new non-public-design and style jet that seats 8. Around much more than 40 a long time, Air Rarotonga has carried far more than two million travellers domestically and has lately launched international expert services to French Polynesia, also making use of the Saab we’re about to fly on.
Most likely very best described as a “retro-design regional seat”, they’re comfy and comparatively spacious. There is one particular row of seats on the left, and two on the suitable. The seats have a 30” inch pitch, which is about what you get on Air New Zealand’s regional flights.
Time in the air
40 minutes, we took off 5 minutes early and arrived a couple minutes ahead of time.
Comfort and ease component
Hopping aboard the flight was, at initial, a tiny like a sauna with wings. The aircraft was practically full, and 30 of us were being in a small tube without air conditioning. But as shortly as the engines began, the air vents roared to daily life, and every little thing cooled down.
Every passenger will get a copy of the no cost Escape journal, which is an fantastic minimal publication of matters to do in the Prepare dinner Islands and it will a lot more than fill the 40-minute flight.
The food items
We had no cost coffee, tea and h2o – or treats could be purchased for just a several pounds. A can of Heineken is just $5, and white and crimson wines are just $6.
Effortlessly just one of the friendliest in the sky. Our cabin crew member, with a flower guiding her ear, experienced a long term smile and treated anyone aboard like family members. The assistance was outstanding – the very best I’ve at any time experienced on a regional flight.
Air Rarotonga granted me obtain to the flight deck for landing, exactly where I sat at the rear of the pilots. Soon just after taking my seat, we commenced our gradual descent as Aitutaki’s lagoon arrived into check out. We have been traveling on a Sunday, and Captain Munro described it is only in the past ten years that flights operated on Sunday – it’s deemed a working day of relaxation in the Cook dinner Islands. To regard that, the plane stays absent from villages on the island through its Sunday expert services to minimise sound.
We approached the lagoon from the southern side, traveling above A person Foot Island, which is where by most men and women head for a day journey – it is arguably the most lovely island in the lagoon.
In spite of the climate getting a very little cloudy, the lagoon was a amazing shade of vivid blue – even additional stunning than the Maldives and very similar to Bora Bora.
We built a number of gentle turns, ahead of our method to Aitutaki Airport, which was initially constructed by the United States and New Zealand militaries in the course of World War II. About 2004, the previous coral runway was changed by a new asphalt runway that is pretty much as extended as Wellington’s.
Captain Munro guides us in for a landing, as we move overwater rooms around the end of the runway, and within minutes we’re stepping off the airplane into paradise.
Each and every solitary passenger is greeted by a member of Cook Islands Tourism to see if you have to have any guidance. It is exceptional service.
The airport is also terrific for departures, complete of exciting facts about the Coral Route, which was an island hop from Auckland to Papeete in the Solent flying boats. The emphasize for many was landing in Aitutaki’s tropical lagoon, and the terminal is loaded in details about this at the time-renowned halt.
Air Rarotonga flies three to four occasions every day from Rarotonga to Aitutaki. The Aitutaki Day tour is a common way to see the island if you don’t have time to keep. It involves a morning flight from Rarotonga, a six-hour cruise, snorkelling, a beach bbq lunch, and a return flight in the evening. From $493 for every person. See: airraro.com
Flights from Auckland to Aitutaki can be booked via Air New Zealand, or directly at airraro.com.
The author’s vacation was supported by Prepare dinner Islands Tourism. See: cookislands.journey