Tag Archives: polynesia

Mazda MX-5: Hiring MX-5 Roadster in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

back to: South Pacific MX-5 Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


I did not actually rent a car in Rarotonga. I didn’t need to. I was only there for a few days and with regular bus service stopping right outside my resort, there wasn’t a need for it. But I was curious what options there were for people wanting to hire an MX-5 on their vacation to paradise, and sadly no information was readily available via the search engines.

What did I find out?

It is possible to rent a Mazda MX-5 on your visit to Rarotonga. You could also rent one on at least one of the other islands: Aitutaki which is a popular day trip destination.

My plan before coming to the Cook Islands was to lay on the beach and do absolutely nothing… which I attempted to do on the first day, but by the second day I was getting pretty restless. So I went ahead and ventured into town: Avarua. There are only two bus services on Rarotonga, one running Clockwise and another Anti-Clockwise. The Anti-Clockwise bus would get me to the town quicker but the Clockwise bus took the scenic route around the whole island. Before I could even reach Avarua I spied a nice red NC with a giant rear spoiler hidden in a garage near the Pacific Hotel. Not long after getting off the bus in town at Cooks Corner I spotted another NA this time Black with a Tan soft top. I kept seeing that car a few more times during my stay, but I was really after an NC model.

I figured the local Avis office would be a good place to start my search for a later model MX-5. And sure enough they had one… allegedly. But according to the sales person behind the counter that car was in the shop. She said she would try to get it out to the office the following day and I’d be able to rent it for $80 bux a day (that’s New Zealand dollars as the Cook Islands use kiwi currency). I knew not to get my hopes up the next day but figured I might as well check it out. And to no-one’s surprise the car wasn’t there. So thanks for nothing Avis.

I bought the all day pass for the bus on my last day on the island and used it quire frequently to check out various beaches and resorts for my future visit. And what do you know? I spotted a white NA at a Pacific Cars rental agency right on the main road near Muri Beach. The car looked to be in a pretty rough shape, but so did many other rentals on the roads. The most common car for hire was a Toyota Passo which was my favorite car in Southeast Asia, technically in it’s Perodua Myvi variation, as the Toyota Passo and it’s sister Dahaitsu Boon look very bland in stock form. But seeing the NA Roadster parked up at a rental car place gave me hope there would be more to find. So I went in asking about newer models. The person behind the counter said he didn’t have one but the Polynesian Car Hire next door may… he described the same green NC that Avis was telling me about which made me wonder if that car was privately owned and leased out to Avis, Polynesian and anyone else interested in it when they found a customer for it.

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I took a look around Polynesian’s lot and saw a few mid-2000’s BMW Z3’s, a pretty Orange MG Roadster with a rear engine, and a few weird looking Daihatsu’s with a bubble top look to them. But no more MX-5’s. So I went ahead with my next trip to the beach at another resort. Along the way I spotted a nice Gold color NB driving by, and then the Black NA passed me again with a different driver behind the wheel from the last time I saw it.

So my conclusion based on these observations is: there are plenty of MX-5’s on Cook Islands. Considering it was the off season when I visited Rarotonga I would venture a guess that many cars are probably stored in garages waiting for the tourism industry to pick up. The few cars I saw were probably not the only ones on the island. And as I was getting ready to leave for the airport for my midnight flight I flipped through the local tourism magazine where a big MX-5 rental advertising popped out at me. The picture showed a Grey NC on Aitutaki Island… Great! Admittedly most cars on the island seem to be second hand Japanese imports or possibly even second hand New Zealand imports after they were already imported used from Japan. I would be really surprised to learn of new cars sold in Raro.

cook islands rarotonga aitutaki mx-5 car hire rental 1

The more common cars for rent at Rarotonga included the following models:

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Toyota BB
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Toyota Rectis
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Nissan Micra

One way to tell rental cars from privately owned vehicles is by the license plates, the rentals obviously start with “R” while private cars typically have just the number sequence on the plate. Hopefully this info helps someone heading to Rarotonga with an interest in MX-5’s.

Kia Orana Cook Islands!

Since the majority of tourists to the Cooks are Kiwis, there is a reliable option to rent an MX-5 while in New Zealand, check out this page for more information: www.mx5rentals.com/

Mazda MX-5: 500+ Photo Road Trip – South Pacific Visiting MX-5 Owners in Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

Another year and another massive MX-5 Road Trip… this time to the South Pacific. I had the pleasure and privilege to visit the Mazda Roadster community  in Australia, New Zealand and kinda sorta in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.

In this post I will share my experience from this trip including the contact info for the local clubs in each country as well as a few rental facilities that have MX-5’s to rent (or hire) on your next trip to paradise that is the Cook Islands. As with my Southeast Asia MX-5 Road Trip last year I will break down this post into individual threads that cover each experience separately:

South Pacific Miata Road Trip Overview

f-australiaMX-5 Shopping in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

f-australiaMX-5 Road Trip from Kirribilli to Balmoral, NSW, Australia

MX-5 Road Trip from Papakura towards Coromandel, NZ

MX-5 Hire Cars on Holiday in Rarotonga, Cook Islands


 

There’s no way I could possibly share all 500+ photos from this adventure but many of them are available for viewing on my facebook page. Some of the best shots are shared here with my commentary. I had such a blast on this trip I am extremely eager to start planning the next one.

So how did I go about arranging all the meets and events?

Simple. I researched the individual MX-5 groups and clubs through the Miata.net forum and Facebook.

In Australia I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New South Wales and specifically the Sydney Chapter which is a very active community of owners that meet up regularly for various club activities from dinners, cruises, racing and skidpads/drifting as well as major events like 50+ car meets and cruises around the country.

I met Jean Cook on my first day in Australia while traveling to Bathurst and just a few days later she embarked on a rather long journey down to Tasmania for a National MX-5 meet there that featured over 100 cars.

Special thanks to Jean Cook for giving me the opportunity to take some photos of her beautiful ND MX-5:

sydney mx-5 owner first order of business on the way to bathurst

The next thanks I want to give is to Cameron from Blue Mountains Mazda who sold Jean her ND. Cameron was nice enough to show me around the dealership on my way back to Sydney from Bathurst, I even brought an Aussie spec brochure back home from this visit:

mx-5 road trip australia blue mountains mazda roadsters 4

Huge thanks to Guy Cole for organizing the MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral where I got to meet the owners of at least 20 MX-5’s that showed up to this event. What a great experience that was. By the same token I would like to thank Chris Stacey for giving me a ride during the cruise in his beautiful red ND MX-5.

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mazda mx-5 fish & chips run mx-5 club nsw sydney chapter kirribilli to balmoral 5

In New Zealand I reached out to the MX-5 Club of New Zealand through the Miata.net forum and facebook. Their club also has major events around the North and South Islands. The last get together at the Auckland area Mazda dealer saw over 50 MX-5’s show up.

For my little event only two owners came along for the ride: Ralph and Lloyd, with Lloyd organizing the whole trip for me including a nice sunset dinner cruise with a fellow MX-5 owner from the Auckland harbour.

Thank you Ralph and Lloyd!

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In Rarotonga, Cook Islands I didn’t get a chance to actualy chat with any Miata owners. But I did source out a few places to rent one. Avis in Avarua apparently had a Green NC to rent but they wouldn’t let me see it before forking out $80/day to rent it. Too bad!

cook islands rarotonga aitutaki mx-5 car hire rental 1

This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and I’m totally looking forward to more trips like this in the future…

Fun in the South Pacific: the Debrief – Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands

Another trip of a lifetime is in the books! Although I shouldn’t call it “lifetime” because I know sooner or later I’ll be departing on other one. In fact with an amazing trip of a lifetime just a few months ago to Southeast Asia, I would call this the trip of the year, or at the very least trip of the month: February 2016!

This post will be a brief overview: a debrief, of the trip overall followed by a number of specific posts about the individual events I’ve marshaled, the experiences I had hanging out with the local MX5 clubs and catching some sun in some very exotic places as part of the vacation that tied this trip together. I had such a blast!

To start, I flew to Australia via Hawai’i. And unlike my first visit there a few years ago after Korean Grand Prix, I decided to get off the plane at Honolulu and actually spend the night in Waikiki Beach. The Polynesian theme for the rest of the trip truly began there. Besides enjoying an amazing sunset that I shared with a few folks at home via Facetime, I got to experience some of the local cuisine just outside of the touristy area. I loved it!

ono hawaiian foods poipoi taro pork dried fish
A traditional meal from Ono Hawaiian Foods just minutes walking distance from Waikiki Beach… the dish featured some pork wrapped in taro leaves and poi poi along with dried fish and all the fixing’s.

Of course an overnight stay in Paradise wasn’t enough, at all! But it was just a start to my South Pacific adventure. I’m kind of glad I broke the trip in half because some of these longer flights of 10+ hours have started getting to me, tiring me out completely. This time I was travelling with an extra handicap I hadn’t encountered on previous trips. I had a flare up of Gout Arthritis just a few days before leaving and my right foot was in terrible pain, something akin to walking on glass. The pain wouldn’t really go away for the entire trip but since I couldn’t do much about it I just learned to live with it.

Next stop: Sydney! The flight arrived in the early evening and after a quick clearance at Immigration I headed to the CBD to get some sleep before heading out for Bathurst early the next morning. Like Waikiki I decided to stay in a hostel near Central station for convenience and it worked out really well for me.

sydney mx-5 owner first order of business on the way to bathurst
First order of business while in Australia: meeting an MX-5 owner from the Club of NSW, Sydney Chapter. What an incredible experience!

In the morning I managed to arrange a lift with someone from the MX-5 community in Sydney. It’s really nice to see how close the Miata community is to Motorsport and specifically marshaling. The lady who’s car I got to check out on my first day in Australia volunteers as a Steward while her son is a flag marshal, who was kind enough to let me tag along for the two hour drive to Mount Panorama. While I could have taken the train all the way to town, I found it far more interesting to have some company along the way. It was especially interesting when we were on the hunt for Meat Pies for lunch while passing through Lithgow. That’s where I spotted something I really wanted to see on my trip, a Miata trailer. The owner drove past us as we parked up near the bakery and while he was stopped on a red light I tried to snap a fuzzy shot of his car.

lithgow mx-5 with a trailer
one of Paul Byers creations… an MX-5 trailer made from the rear quarters of an actual MX-5… looks bloody awesome!

I will talk about my experiences at Bathurst 12 hour and Mount Panorama in a separate post but suffice to say it was an interesting experience. While it wasn’t my first visit there, it was definitely a little different from before. For the first time I camped right at the track. A fellow Aussie marshal Paul from Victoria was kind enough to supply me with a comfortable tent, some pillows and a sleeping bag, which helped a lot so I didn’t have to drag all that stuff with me. Not only that he was our designated driver taking a whole group of us out to dinner in town every night, which was fantastic. It was the first time I consistently stuffed my face with proper Australian food including roast lamb and a variety of other local pub dishes.

mount panorama bathurst 12 hour 2016 drive down the front straight
Paul Kelly driving us around every night after the end of track activities.
bathurst rsl pub food during bathurst 12 hour
Australia’s finest pub food in Bathurst.
bathurst 12 hour audi gt3 on mount panorama hells corner
Every year there’s a team promoting tourism NSW and Australia, this year there was a Terra Australis Audi complete with an aboriginal photo shoot that we stumbled upon in pit lane.

After the event I headed back to Sydney for a few more nights in a CBD hostel. I had a few things planned but the stay was way too short. Luckily I did manage to squeeze in a lunch at Bondi Beach which I was really looking forward to as well as a nice MX-5 cruise from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach with a meeting spot just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was pretty spectacular. So many cars showed up! I was pleasantly surprised and very humbled to see so many owners give up their weeknight for a little cruise along the Northern Sydney suburbs for some fish and chips. Again I will write more about it later but I can’t express my gratitude enough to have had this opportunity!

sydney fish and chips run for the mx-5 club of nsw sydney chapter
Tuesday night Fish & Chips run from Kirribilli to Balmoral Beach, with a meeting spot under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney CBD and Opera House in the background.

Next stop: Auckland! A short hop and skip over the ditch (as they refer to the Tasman Sea) and I was in New Zealand. The flight arrived after midnight and I was off to my hostel in the CBD. Early next morning another MX-5 meetup awaited me, and after a short 4 hour sleep I was in a beautiful JDM-import Roadster heading to Papakura for my next adventure which I’ll describe in it’s own post. In a way it was another Fish & Chips run but this one lasted for over 300km visiting some scenic and twisty roads across the entire Northern Island from West (Waihu) to East (Coromandel Peninsula).

new zealand mx-5 owners showing me around the north island waikato coromandel
MX-5 Club of New Zealand MX-5 members Lloyd and Ralph took me around on a day trip showing me the twisty parts of the North Island heading towards Coromandel for fish & chips.

As if this incredible two car road trip (as I jumped out from one car to the other at every stop we made), couldn’t get any better – it did! The day ended on a boat in Auckland Harbour where we had a nice dinner joining another MX-5 owner while he and his family celebrated the mum’s birthday. This was my first time on the water on the North Island something I was putting away until later while living in Auckland and never actually following through with, until now. It was really amazing.

sunset over auckland from the harbour
A sunset dinner cruise with a bunch of MX-5 owners celebrating a birthday. What a way to end my Kiwi MX-5 road trip!

Believe it or not I actually got to marshal while in New Zealand. It was only a one day meeting for Auckland Car Club at Hampton Downs but I certainly got my money’s worth with plenty of spins and spills on Turn 2 where I was lucky enough to work. It was such a good pleasure to catch up with a bunch of people whom I started my marshaling with while living in New Zealand a few years ago. And it was nice to see the improvements done and are currently ongoing to Hampton Downs under Tony Quinn’s ownership.

Besides Hampton Downs, Anna Scott – who hosted me for the weekend, took me to Pukekohe Raceway Park and showed me the improvements done there after Aussie V8 Supercars moved to their event there from the streets of Hamilton. I had such an incredible time I’ll have to write more about it in another post.

visit to pukekohe raceway park the new home of aussie v8 supercars in new zealand
Anna Scott the flag chief for the Motorsport Club of NZ taking me on a private tour of the upgraded Pukekohe Raceway Park including a visit to Race Control and a few laps around the circuit.

Although I had already spent two weeks on the road which seemed to have gone by in a flash, I still had one more exotic stop on this incredible journey: Rarotonga in the Cook Islands! I was really looking forward to this visit because it was something I planned to do while living in New Zealand back in 2012. Now the dream came true. I didn’t know what to expect but the reality surprised me in a very pleasant way. The tiny island of Rarotonga was very clean, friendly and welcoming for my visit. The resort I booked (my first stay in a proper hotel on this trip after all the hostels in Hawaii, Sydney and Auckland I decided to splurge and pamper myself) was fantastic. I got to tour the island, sample some delicious Polynesian food and completely relax on the pristine beaches with baby blue water crashing over the corals just off shore. What an experience!

kia orana cook islands rarotonga on my rainy arrival
Kia Orana Cook Islands! I arrived on a rainy day in a cyclone season thinking that my trip would be rained out but the weather was perfect during my stay on Rarotonga.
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I was very impressed at how clean and organized Rarotonga was, it was very exotic!
rarotonga cook islands conoe with glass bottom snorkeling boat in a lagoon
The beaches were amazing! The water crystal clear. I had such a great time relaxing.
mazda mx-5 roadster rental car hire JDM import at Rarotonga Cook Islands
Of course I managed to spot a bunch of MX-5’s, mostly NA and NB’s.

The trip home at the end of this vacation took me back through Auckland where I was a total zombie while shopping for souvenirs to take home. Luckily I was able to meet up with friends for lunch and dinner and that kept me awake long enough for some much needed sleep on my 11 hour flight back to LAX.

Huge thanks to all the people that helped me along on this trip. I couldn’t have done this without you!