If it is wet, then you will get really dirty – but you will have even more fun.
Raro Buggy Tours is an adventure where you get to drive yourself and a pal through some beautiful Rarotongan landscapes; let’s you unleash the inner off-road beast on a dirt/mud circuit; bash the daylights out of some golf balls in the hope of winning your ticket money back and then cruising back to base along the back roads.
Your drive begins with a general run down of the rules by tour guide Nae Williams who, while organising manual or automatic buggies, delivers his pep talk with humour.
Then come the rules. No hooning. No being stupid. Listen to what the guides say.
It is pretty basic stuff but, and there are no surprises here, there are still some visitors who think they are Lewis Hamilton and can motor it down Rarotongan roads at top speed.
Which is why the buggies have been limited to a top speed of 40kph and, if you don’t have your safety belt on, you can’t get above 25kph.
Then you get your all-terrain buggy – most are rugged two seater GK250s from China, and strap yourself in. The GK250s are highly rated by Raro Buggy Tours as they are “very safe and good if you are taking the children”.
As a long convoy you head out on to the main road from the Muri Beach Club Hotel and snake your way down towards the southern coastline. Soon after passing the Bahai Centre you make a right turn and cruise inland through some very pretty scenery.
Keeping control of a long line of up to 10 buggies can be difficult so the tour organisers have set up a system where every driver, and or passenger, must put their hand out to signal any change in direction. It works a treat, unless you happen to be enjoying the scenery so much you take your eyes of the buggy in front of you. My bad. Still, the brakes work really well.
Back on the main road we trundle past Papaaroa Adventist School and as we do so the rain starts. As the cameraman I’m not thrilled, but everyone else is licking their collective lips for what is about to happen.
We turn into the old Sheraton Hotel property and this is where the fun begins.
The track around the abandoned hotel is rutted and rocky and a good test for quick reactions. A lack of recent tropical downpours means it isn’t as muddy as usual, although there are a couple of stretches where the brown stuff is deep enough to make a heck of a mess.
One couple were determined to get absolutely covered in mud and managed to do so, seemingly within seconds.
But that is most of the fun of Raro Buggy Tours and judging by the shouts and laughter everyone seemed to be having a ball and everyone behaved.
Buggy manager James Kiriau was happy about that, as he has had to eject a few drivers for not keeping to the rules or acting stupidly.
They are given no second chance, only $5, and are told to catch the bus back to the hotel.
After blatting around the Sheraton the tour heads off to Papua (Wigmore’s) Falls, although there are some restrictions on travelling there at the moment due to work being done on the water pipeline.
Raro Buggy Tours has just brought in three new Polaris buggies and they were absolute beauties to drive.
Plenty of torque, good handling, power steering and … much more comfy seating. The downside is they are only single-seaters.
When the tours started off there were a few issues over the length of the convoys and noise.
But reacting quickly to the complaints owner Anton Haywood reduced the number of buggies from 14 to 10 and then set about dealing with the decibels. It took some time and in the end they had to customise the buggies with mufflers from cars.
Kiriau says: “As you heard when you went out the noise is not a problem. These new ones are nice and silent.”
Apart from the shouts and laughter from the drivers and passengers that is …
NOTE: When you do the tour you must bring a driver’s licence and it is recommended you have sunscreen, insect repellent, sun glasses and proper footwear.
Raro Buggy Tours
Muri Beach Point, Rarotonga.
Phone: (682) 23000