Mangaia Impacted by Survivor

Mangaia, the southernmost of the Cook Islands, is facing an energy crisis after the supply ship Maungaroa was diverted to Aitutaki to deliver supplies to the team filming the U.S. reality television show Survivor. To conserve dwindling diesel reserves, electricity generation on Mangaia has been cut to four and a half hours a day. By next week Mangaia's diesel supplies could be exhausted, shutting off lights around the island.

The Mangaia locals aren't the only ones feeling the impact of the American dollars flowing from Survivor Cook Islands. The popular lagoon cruises on Aitutaki no longer go to One Foot Island where the 16 "survivors" are currently blackballing one another in hope of winning a million dollars. Instead, the tours are going to islands outside the restricted filming zone, including Maina in the southwest corner of the atoll. Tourist accommodation on Aitutaki is scarce just now with Survivor staff cluttering the resorts.

Unless you're Survivor groupie, I suggest you give Aitutaki a miss until the television people depart in late August. An excellent alternative is Atiu, with reasonable hotels and lots to do. Air Rarotonga has been making noises about adding day tours to Atiu and Mangaia to compensate for their disrupted Aitutaki tour, and these will definitely be preferrable for those who have come to see the Cook Islands rather than security guards outside a miniature Universal City. And if the Mangaia day tours do materialize, the Mangaia islanders may get a few crumbs from the table for their inconvenience after all.

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