Posted on November 22, 2017

The Cook Islands’ famed international paddling festival “Vaka Eiva” returns to Rarotonga on Friday 24th November 2017 for the 14th annual Matson Vaka Eiva 2017. The Matson Vaka Eiva event is a week long extravaganza, timed to take place alongside the Te Mire Flower Festival and The Cook Islands Dancer of the Year Competition, and runs until Friday 1st December 2017.

Growing year on year, Matson Vaka Eiva is both a fantastic spectator and competitor sport event, with many competitors returning year after year to participate in paddling “Vaka” outrigger canoes for this fantastic celebration of Cook Islands culture and heritage.

All of us here at Pacific Resort Hotel Group are proud to continue our association with the Matson Vaka Eiva event as a continued Silver Sponsor and Official Accommodation Partner.

On The International Stage

Arguably the Cook Islands’ largest competitive event and an annual highlight of the South Pacific sporting calendar, Vaka Eiva sees over 600 paddlers come to Rarotonga from not just the Cook Islands, but all around the world.

International participants in previous years have hailed from Europe, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, and all throughout the South Pacific.

Avarua, the national capital of the Cook Islands, serves as the festival location and training hub for Vaka Eiva, with races being held around the island, including the famed Muri beach.

It should come as no surprise that the island is almost electric throughout the Vaka Eiva festival, and makes for a great time to visit the Cook Islands. We have seven resorts, including a partner hotel group, in Rarotonga and Aitutaki; Pacific Resort Rarotonga and Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa are both situated on Muri Beach, and Little Polynesian Resort and partner hotel group Moana Sands at nearby Titikaveka, and not forgetting Pacific Resort Aitutaki in beautiful Aitutaki.

The Races

With race divisions covering Under 19, Open, Master, Senior Master, and Golden Master (60+), Vaka Eiva consists of ocean iron and marathon races, relay races, and sprint races, making for an exciting week of canoeing action! The two prestigious trophies up for the taking are seen as the pinnacle for Vaka paddlers – the Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle trophies are awarded to the winners of the Open Men and Women 36km race – a gruelling battle through the water, with waves, swells, and conditions that beset paddlers around Rarotonga, from tranquil lagoon to open sea.

The Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle events serve as the grand finale spectacles on the final day of Vaka Eiva, drawing enormous crowds from across the island – locals and holidaymakers alike. Spectators are free to watch the action from the shore, or for those keen to get close to the excitement, can join one of the spectator boats and follow the action in person.

Off The Water

Owing to the influx of participants and spectators who come from far and wide to embrace Vaka Eiva, Rarotonga is a majestic tourist destination during the festival. Rarotonga’s Te Mire Flower Festival and The Cook Islands Dancer of the Year Competition coincide with Matson Vaka Eiva 2017, and both events are very highly recommended to view.

In fact, there are a multitude of arts, food and cultural festivals over Vaka Eiva week, providing plenty of options for those looking for something a bit different on their trip to the Cook Islands.

Despite the competitive environment of Vaka Eiva, the spirited, friendly atmosphere of the Cook Islands remains, with many locals and competitors socialising and catching up, and soaking up the golden island sun.

Owing to local customs, no racing takes place on Sunday 26th November, serving as a day of rest. Racing is also ceased on Thursday 30th November, allowing participants to mingle ahead of the closing Pacific Cup and Pacific Paddle events the following day.

If you are on the island during the week of 24th November to 1st December, be sure you speak to one of our friendly Pacific Resort staff members who will be more than happy to divulge a little history of the Vaka Eiva festival, along with cultural tips, and the best places to watch the races!

Where To Stay

Pacific Resort Hotel Group is very proud to be a Silver Sponsor and Official Accommodation Partner to Matson Vaka Eiva 2017. If you would like to catch the action at Vaka Eiva, please contact us as we would love to host you.