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“Great tour with incredibly unique features”

Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Atiu
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Attraction details
Owner description: The most well known of Atiu's limestone caves, it is named for the Kopeka birds that build nests in between the stalactites of the cavern. These birds navigate through the dark caves, guided by the echoes of their clicking sounds.
Reviewed 26 April 2018

Thanks Marshall for an awesome tour. It was an honour to spot the rare Kopeka birds and to be allowed to swim in the beautiful underground swimming hole. We will definitely be recommending you to anyone that is heading your way!

Thank JessiPalmer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 13 January 2018

My wife & I researched our trip to Atiu fairly thoroughly before we left - after all, that's half the fun! It seemed that Marshall Humphreys' local tours were very popular, so we decided on the Anatakitaki (Kopeka) Cave tour, home to the little kopeka or Atiu Swiftlet, unique to this area. It seems pretty much everywhere you go on Atiu, you end up in the rear tray of a ute, and this was no exception!
The centre of Atiu is a raised, fertile plateau, and the outer, lower coastal areas are largely jungle/bush and ancient fossil coral, or makatea. By its very nature, the makatea is full of small and large potholes and sinkholes, and is unforgivingly sharp and jagged. The walk to Anatakitaki Cave is through this makatea, so strong, non-slip footwear is required.
The start of the walk is deceptively easy, until you arrive at the makatea. Marshall takes great care to explain what you're in for, so you can't say you weren't warned. There is a point where he keeps a supply of walking sticks, which are a great help when negotiating the rugged fossil coral. The walk to the cave is 30-40 minutes. Whilst it is relatively level (i.e. unlike the Rarotonga cross island track) a reasonable level of fitness and agility is helpful. We are mid-50's and had no major issues. Marshall stops as necessary and paces the walk extremely well, all the while offering information and stories as we made our way through the bush. The walk ends at a ladder, maybe 20 feet high, by which you descend into the start of the Anatakitaki cave complex. This is where the head lamp Marshall has issued you with comes into play - caves do tend to be rather dark.
Being fossil coral, and therefore largely limestone, it's unsurprising to find quite a maze of caverns and tunnels in this location. Roots from overhead trees grow through rock ceilings, stalactites and stalagmites, flowstones and calcite crystals create an atmosphere of Lord of the Rings. In parts the caves open to grottoes of ferns and palms, hidden pockets of greenery in the makatea that are just breathtaking, almost spiritual. This cave experience is not claustrophobic in any way, so don't let that worry you...
Marshall took some time out to tell a few local legends (and probably let us get our breath back) before entering the section of caves favoured by the kopeka. These little swiftlets build and occupy nests affixed to the walls of the cave, and Marshall's powerful torch points out some of the locals. The birds navigate in the cave by issuing a clicking noise, clearly audible to humans, which increases in frequency as they go deeper into the darkness. Marshall's knowledge of the birds and their environment is impressive, and his passion for their safekeeping, protection and study is as unique as the bird itself. At one point he told us of a sick bird he found on the cave floor, which days later was just a pile of feathers, reduced by cave dwelling crabs and insects - and you knew the emotion in his voice was real feeling.
Whilst navigating your way through the caverns is reasonably easy - slips, trips and falls are a distinct possibility and slippery surfaces abound. I managed a quick and unanticipated slide down a rock to end with a stalagmite between my legs, which brings me to recall Marshall's story about candlenuts...
The cave visit was concluded with the much touted candlelit swim in an underground pool. This water is seriously cold, but what a way to get refreshed!
We exited the caves to find a light rain, which brought the coconut crabs out of their hiding places in the makatea, and added an element if slipperiness to the path. However our small group all survived, and what we learnt and experienced was well worth the walk. Marshall is an experienced, considerate and well informed guide, to whom (like most of the locals on Atiu) you will take an instant liking. Remember the solid footwear, walk shorts, swimmers, hat, insecticide, sunscreen, a camera and a water bottle. Otherwise carry as little as possible. The wife & I agree should we find ourselves back on the lovely island of Atiu, we would do this experience again - so don't be timid about giving it a go, just be prepared!

4  Thank Andy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 August 2017

What a day we did both the Rima Rau Burial cave and the Anatakitaki Cave in one day both were just amazing
Marshall our guide was full on Knowledge just Awesome
Book it !!!!


2  Thank JeffSimpsonsydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 June 2017

brilliant tour to see the caves and Kopeka birds inside. Very unique to the island. We loved the swim in the pool inside the cave - again, that was a first for us. You need to be relatively fit to walk to and from the entrance, but it was a really enjoyable tour from start to finish.

2  Thank Heather641
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 June 2017

We arrived from Aitutaki around noon and Marshall was able to offer us a tour on a non-scheduled day after we got in. We were so happy he took the time to accommodate our travels and one of his B&B guests who was on the same flight joined us as well. The tour was led by Ben who was incredibly knowledgeable and a great story-teller of Atiu history. The hike involves walking across hard and sharp coral where you do need to be careful of foot placements. If you're from Alaska, like us, it's just like walking along all of the large rocks on our beaches but if you are only used to hiking on maintained trails, it could take some time. I wouldn't let this dissuade you from going, though.

Once you get to the caves, it's incredible! The caves provide so many examples of different formations and, combined with natural flora, it's simply beautiful. Ben led us through one cave and, then, into the cave with the Kopeka birds. You can hear them clicking inside but they are not blind so, once they see light, they use their eyes to navigate - it's pretty amazing that this bird has adapted this additional navigational sense in order to nest in the caves. After the tour of the bird cave, Ben brought us down into a cave with a pool which was needed after hiking in the heat. The pool was crystal clear and so refreshing. Ben lit candles and the three of us swam around taking it all in.

You have to do this!

3  Thank erh1121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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