We woke to another beautiful day on the island. The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze blowing in from the ocean. Fresh pineapple and pawpaw with half a loaf of banana bread for breakfast and i was ready for the day!
I left Ngaio on the beach with my family, my mum said i had to let her have a day in the sun!
I sold the idea to my dad of climbing up the needle and he was in! We packed our bags and set off in adventure mode.
Unlike Te Manga, the needle is easy to find and well sign posted. All you need is a map of the island and follow your nose, its an easy drive to the end and a clear track takes you up in to the jungle, it is well used and there are yellow track markers to follow.
We started our hike in 26 degree heat so needless to say our shirts came off pretty quickly. I’m a pretty competitive person and when my dad is involved I’m even worse! We headed up the mountain at a crazy pace, trying not to let the other hear how much we were puffing. We reached the base of the needle in 30 minutes, it usually takes 45 to 50 so we had been motoring!
If you are wanting to do this hike make sure you take good shoes as the start of the track was a bit slippery, there are roots that cross the track so watch out for those and be prepared for a bit of climbing up ropes and chains to get to the lookout point on the needle.
Once we reached the look out we had a bit of a breather and i started to scope it out, trying to find the best way to start the treacherous climb. I had done a bit of reading about climbing the needle and none of it made it sound easy, so i was well prepared with my climbing shoes, i really wanted to get to the top.
The rock stands about 85 metres high and the higher you get, the harder the climbing gets.
Dad was sitting on the ledge freaking himself out about how high he was, when i found that around to the left there was a small crack running up the rock. This was my starting point. I put on my rock shoes, attached my chalk bag to my shorts and started to free climb up the crack. This section of the route was very exposed and not a place where you would want to make a mistake, because it would probably be your last! As i was climbing i was very aware of the 100m drop to my right.
I didn’t know if i could trust the integrity of the rock which made me cautious when choosing holds. From the crack climb i squeezed under a rock and came to a chimney section that went straight to the top.
I braced my legs on one wall and back against the other and slowly moved my way up. As i got higher the rock walls became damp and mossy, this was a worry because it increased my chance of slipping, that was not what i wanted when i was 60m up!
There was a rope hanging down that i instinctively grabbed when i saw it, i could hear the strands snapping and i realise it was old and worn, i had to grab on to the wall before the rope snapped and climbed my way out of the chimney.
The last section of the climb was very challenging, it was exposed in every direction and to fall would mean to die. I was careful in the final climb trying to not get too excited about reaching the top and loosing concentration. I made it to the peak with a triumphant yell!
The view from the top was epic , that and the exhilaration of the climb made me feel like i was on top of the world.
Climbing down was dodgy, i took it slowly trying not to rush as this is often when mistakes are made. I made sure i didn’t use the ropes to support my weight as they looked like they had been there for a long time. I reached the ledge where dad was and made sure he knew just how awesome it was.
Home time for us, i was off to get my wild girl in to the ocean!
This hike was easy to find, you can ask any local and they can tell you where to go. A short 2 hour return trip with amazing views and beautiful scenery , any one who is visiting Rarotonga should give this a go. Just not all the way to the top, save that for the crazy adventurers!
This is a wildboy must do when in Rarotonga
hope you enjoyed
Written by Wildboy Brando Yelavich and Wildgirl Ngaio Gregory