Location: Matavera, Rarotonga
Getting there: The Cook Islands bubble is now under way, so you can fly direct from Auckland to Rarotonga with Air New Zealand, with no quarantine requirements at either end. Once you're there, pick up a rental car at the airport or get a taxi.
First impressions: Ikurangi Eco Retreat is in the Matavera District of Rarotonga, on the northeastern side of the island. The retreat is largely hidden by lush foliage. A small car park with hedge-edged pathways leads to large, raised, safari tents.
Hotel history: The landowner, still living next door, started Ikurangi with three wooden ares, Polynesian-style studio rooms. The property was bought and expanded before the current owners, Alan and Vicky, took over in 2019, revamped the organic gardens and added zhoosh.
Need to know: Ikurangi is a glamping experience so guests have a getaway that doesn't compromise the environment.
Breakfast: A highlight of the stay. Our first day started with a smoothie of banana, strawberries and soursop, known apparently as island icecream; a chia pudding topped with nuts and dried fruit and salad of apple, very sweet banana, dragon fruit, star fruit, mango, guava and pawpaw. It was heaven in a dish. The next day: lemon bread with cooked bananas and a fruit salad, as above. The next ... etc, etc.
Check-in experience: Vicky welcomed us, explained how the property worked, offered advice about what attractions were nearby and locations of the best snorkelling and swimming areas.
Room: Beyond a deep, partially covered veranda with table and chairs, it's a large tent. A large, very comfortable tent with solid decking floor, equipped with bed, storage, fridge, a small safe and a yoga mat. Tea- and coffee-making facilities and fresh drinking water. Along each side are three netted "windows" with Velcro-ed covers that are raised at night. The front and back of the room are netted, zipped walls with an outer separate "tenty" cover. The steeply pitched, double-skin roof has netted ventilation. Any food scraps go in a lidded container in the fridge and are removed each day.
Bed: King-size, comfortable and freshly made each day. The lack of a headboard took a bit of getting used to when reading by lamplight.
Bathroom: Large. A continuation of the bedroom, through the zipped walls. The roofed half has a modern composting toilet discreetly in one corner and the mirrored double vanity in the other. The uncovered half has high brushwood walls, a hot and cold shower and a bench seat. Some tents have outdoor bathtubs.
Toiletries: All eco-friendly, Auckland-based Ashley and Co, brought in in bulk to minimise packaging.
Facilities: There are seven choices of accommodation, three like ours, a honeymoon one that is similar but has a clawfoot bath, and the three original wooden ares. They share a saltwater pool with adjacent freshwater shower but we were alone on our dips and rarely saw anyone else. There are bicycles for the use of guests.
Wi-Fi: It's in a hotspot but you need to buy a local package. Vodafone in the Cooks is far more expensive than Vodafone in New Zealand.
What else is in the neighbourhood: Everything is in the neighbourhood, Raro is not that large. The round-the-island buses marked "Clockwise" and "Anti-clockwise" are on the hour, sometimes on the half-hour. Ikurangi faces the mountains and is a 10-minute walk to the main road so a rental car or scooters would be recommended.