Maunga Pu and Piraki Lookout are two short hikes which originate on the coastal road in Anaunga and Amuri and climb up to prominent viewpoints which have incredible views of Aitutaki's beautiful lagoon. The only real difficulty encountered on either hike is dealing with a short steep section near the summit of Maunga Pu. A topographical map of the hiking routes can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the starting point of the Maunga Pu hike are 18° 50.221'S, 159° 46.939'W. GPS coordinates for the summit of Maunga Pu are 18° 50.318'S, 159° 46.818'W. GPS coordinates for the starting point of the Piraki Lookout hike are 18° 51.181'S, 159° 47.586'W. GPS coordinates for Piraki Lookout are 18° 50.929'S, 159° 47.120'W.
One week after arriving in Rarotonga, we departed on a short 45 minute plane flight to Aitutaki. Aitutaki was expected to be our trip highlight, as we were extremely impressed with pictures we saw of it prior to leaving home. Aitutaki has one central landmass with a massive lagoon encircling both that and many smaller islands (or motu). Aitutaki's lagoon is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world and draws comparisons to Bora Bora. While most of our time on Aitutaki would center around exploring the lagoon by boat for a couple of days, we also wanted to spend a day hiking there. After doing some research, we found out that there are basically only two short hikes which have been established. Both hikes climb up to the top of hills with great views. The first of these is Maunga Pu. Maunga Pu is the highpoint of Aitutaki at 407 feet in elevation (according to the hiking sign and the topo map linked to above). The hike begins along the coastal road in the Anaunga district close to the Maunga Pu hiking sign. The route follows a minor road up the hillside in between a couple of residences which are growing fruit trees. It is worth it to look back frequently because the views start almost immediately of the northern coast, lagoon, and coral reef. Upon reaching a junction at the top of the first hill, it is important to turn left. This area is unmarked so it can be a bit confusing for first-time visitors. The next portion of minor road has some overlooks of very extensive island tree growth. Looking down into the trees, it is hard to imagine that there could be a path to get through them. Soon, the parking area is reached (for those who wish to drive up and miss most of the hike). From that point, it is just a short climb up a steep path on a hill to reach Maunga Pu's summit. Aitutaki's high point has incredible views all the way around the island and lagoon. You will see many of these views in the included full set of pictures. After accomplishing the first hike (1 1/4 miles RT with 390 feet of elevation gain), we returned to our vehicle and drove 1 1/2 miles farther down the coastal road to the Amuri district where we parked near the Piraki Lookout hiking sign. This hike also follows a minor road which begins by passing through residences. It was interesting to see how some of the locals lived while passing by homes in this area. Past the residences, the road makes a few sharp turns and climbs up the hillside. Upon reaching a junction with several other minor roads, another Piraki Lookout hiking sign directs hikers in the proper direction. Piraki Lookout is essentially a picnic area with a nice covered table and a couple of small green fields to relax on and enjoy the lagoon and island views. I'm not sure of the exact elevation of Piraki Lookout, but the hike is 1 3/4 miles RT. The hike can also be extended for even more great views if you keep going past Piraki Lookout for another 1/4 of a mile to a spur trail on the left which leads up to a slightly higher viewpoint. The total mileage from the parking area to the higher rounded hill viewpoint is 2 3/4 miles RT. After enjoying the views from both spots for a while, we headed back down to our vehicle. We were glad that we had enjoyed some nice sunny weather during the hikes because our week on Aitutaki was mostly cloudy. Like with Maunga Pu, it is possible to drive to Piraki Lookout. But that takes all of the fun out of it and you won't be able to say you went hiking on Aitutaki. Included within this report are 42 pictures taken during the Maunga Pu hike, 42 pictures taken during the Piraki Lookout hike, and some bonus pictures from our time on Aitutaki. I must say, I had a really hard time leaving Aitutaki. It is such a beautiful place and I can only dream about coming back someday. Our hike took place on September 30, 2015.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT