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Anatakitaki Cave (Kopeka Cave)
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Fantastic tour with Ben

We did the amazing tour of the caves with Ben. He was a lovely man, informative and chatty and very... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Claire D
,
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Read this carefully before taking the tour...

My wife & I researched our trip to Atiu fairly thoroughly before we left - after all, that's half... read more

Reviewed 13 January 2018
Andy H
,
Sydney, Australia
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Reviewed 1 week ago

We did the amazing tour of the caves with Ben. He was a lovely man, informative and chatty and very keen to make sure everyone was safe and looked after.

The walk there is a little rocky with all the coral so wear good shoes, but it's not a hard walk by any stretch. You never go completely underground in the caves so this would be fine even if you're claustrophobic or afraid of the dark (you always have your head torch too). The kopeka are extraordinary and we felt very lucky to see this bird that only lives on Atiu!

Also a very special touch was that Ben lit some candles in a cave pool and we went swimming in one of the caves. It was cold but refreshing! A very romantic experience.

This was without a doubt the best tour we did on Atiu.

Thank Claire D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 September 2018

Seeing the birds in this cave was one of the reasons why we came to 'Atiu. We had read the reviews and consulted with people who were aware of the difficulties involved, and we were pretty sure that we could make it.

At the outset, Ben, the guide, stated that safety was paramount, to which all seven group members agreed. He then noted that it didn't matter how long it took to get to the cave, as long as we made it safely. That seemed reasonable, given that all of us were over 60 years old, but at the time, we didn't consider the ramifications of it.

Unfortunately, two members of the group were not up for a strenuous hike over sharp, uneven terrain. This fact was obvious from the outset, before the couple even boarded the vehicle, but neither they nor the guide hesitated. So we set out, very slowly, with Ben carefully ensuring everyone's safety and offering interesting facts along the way.

One of the less-able people fell two or three times; both required a great deal of help throughout. The hike to the caves took twice the usual time.

We did see the first and second caves, which were marvelous. But then, before we were to leave for the third cave (where the birds are located), Ben announced, “Unfortunately, we've run out of time, so we have to leave now to get back before dark.”

Yes, we got back, safely, before dark. And yes, that was very important. But at least five of us were incredibly disappointed to have struggled over the jagged coral for hours (and to have paid for it) without achieving our goal. If there had been accident along the way, causing the tour to be abbreviated, we would have understood. In this case, though, the problem was both predictable and preventable.

I would like to offer a couple of suggestions.

For tour participants: Please assess your abilities honestly. The hike is quite difficult, up and down over razor-sharp fossil coral, often with insecure footing.

For tour leaders: If people appear to be unable to complete this hike safely, please advise them of this fact before they start out. (I understand that saying no is very difficult, but denying one or two obviously incapable people is better than disappointing the entire rest of the group.) If potential participants seem only to be a bit slower, just start the tour earlier than the usual 2:00. And if all else fails and disappointment results, please consider either refunding the tour price or letting folks take the tour again on another day, either free or at reduced cost.

Thank EdMed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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 !!!!

Regards,
Jeff

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
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
Reviewed 17 April 2017

Marshall Humphrey runs this tour. He took us through the jungle and over the sharp makatea (fossil coral) to find the caves. We entered the darkness and started hearing the kopekas (little swifts endemic to the island) with their sonar clicking noises before we were able to spot them flying through the cave. We saw some crabs and cockroaches (the professional cleaners) in the caves, had a very welcomed swim in the freshwater underground pool (very very invigorating) and listened to the legend (or at least one of the legends) of the cave.
Take a good pair of enclosed walking shoes (sneakers are fine) as the makatea is very sharp and can be a little unstable. Marshall has walking sticks that will help you keep your balance.

3  Thank Veronique L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 November 2016

Very interesting tour, seeing the Kopeka birds. Fun to walk through the jungle and coral, and then climb around in the cave. We went swimming in the cave pool too.

Guides are very knowledgeable and make it interesting. Best tour on Atiu,

1  Thank MattJJ_75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 August 2016

great trip - the caves are amazing and the swim underground at the end was very cool. Marshall was a great guide too.

Thank JamesM12408
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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