'We were lucky, Rarotonga not so lucky' - Cook Islands resort owner

A clean up is taking place after huge waves struck the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and American Samoa.

18th July, 2022

Mina Amso

'We were lucky, Rarotonga not so lucky' - Cook Islands resort owner

​Sea swells hit a tourist resort in Rarotonga. Photo/Facebook​

​An Aitutaki resort owner says he escaped the worst of the swells which pounded the Cook Islands, but others were not so lucky. 

"We’ve had a lot of wind and swells in the lagoon but fortunately not too much damage to hotels and buildings,” says Nick Henry, General Manager at Tamanu Beach Resort. 

“There was a little bit of damage to a jetty at the Koru club but otherwise very minor just getting buffeted around by the big swells.”​​

But it was a different story on Rarotonga as four-metre high waves swept over low-lying coastal areas in Puaikura District along with Titikaveka, in Takitumu District.

Honeymoon Island too experienced damage, with kites washed away and equipment were lost.

Henry says there wasn’t much warning from the weather service.

“We were lucky, Rarotonga not so lucky. For me, it was a combination of the full moon, we had our super king tides and we’ve had this southerly, south-south easterly wind and it’s been smoking for 10 or 12 days.

“And when you get the wind from one direction for a period of time it creates what they call fetch, and so this is just building up waves from one direction and it pushes all the water into one corner of the lagoon and it’s unable to return against the wind.

"And so it just builds up its level and basically that’s what happened in Ootu Bay where my home is the water came back round the back of the house.”

American Samoa and French Polynesia were also hit by the huge tides.

The damage is a huge blow to tourism operators who are reopening as tourism kicks off again in the region, after they were forced to close because of Covid-19.