Hello everyone! Sorry for lack of updates! Work has been increadibly busy and I kept forgetting to add more info to the blog!
It looks like the Cook Islands is in the path of a cyclone this year. I hope all my friends are well over there.
So here we go. Today I'll just share what you can expect in Aitutaki in terms of food/shopping because it is a common question most travellers have before going there.
As a tourist, Rirei's (or more commonly known as the Heineken Store amongst tourists) is probably the most easily identifiably "supermarket" on the island. It sits in Amuri, only a short distance down the main road from Pacific Resort, Rino's and other accommodation services. It is situated about half way down the island and right across the road from a big breadfruit tree.
Why most people call it the Heineken Store is because there's a Heineken sign out the front, and it's the only sign they have. Nowhere, except on bread bags, does it say "Rirei's."
It isn't exactly a "supermarket" by any means, but it has a good range of stock for travellers and locals, and it probably is the most reliable in terms of quality of the stock. The only other shop on the island that probably is on par with Rirei's is Neibaa's, which unfortunately has a good range of stock but you have to watch out for those expired ones!
So they've got drinks sorted includin beer ($2.50/bottle) and other fizzies and juices. They also have bottled water which is nice for those who need a water bottle.
This was the selection of refrigerated goods while I was there. Now, the fruit and veges are great quality, except that they have been airfreighted so are quite expensive. Peppers/capsicums, I remember, went for $45/kg. Sometimes you can find them for $2/each at Neibaas if there are local produce around. Otherwise, 500g block of cheese is around $10-12, a tub of yoghurt $15 and chocolate bars around $2-3 (from memory). There are also salami and butter.
Not shown in the photos are the frozen goods, and they have sausages (provided the cargo ship was in recently - they go quick!), frozen fish, hash browns, frozen meat (not the best cuts I admit) and cheesecake etc.
And yes! They have toiletries! A bar of soap is around $1.50 and most other things aren't too bad for price. Laundry powder is about $10-15 (Persil is on the more expensive side), shampoo and conditioners around $9-10. They have toothpaste and Bonjela. They also have insect repellents for those who had forgotten it from home!
Now, getting onto the food... there's jam (about $5), pasta sauce (Dolmio, Five Brothers), some gravy sauce, soup, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, peanut butter and Nutella. They also have Vegemite but only the bigger jars. And, because there are cats on the island, they also have cat food ;)
This is the main food aisle (or more like the only aisle in the shop haha). There's pasta, rice, sauces (satay, soy), cereals, rolled oats, bikkies, instant noodles, canned tuna/fish, baked beans, canned spaghetti, milk powder etc.
Milk on the island are either from powders, or carton milk which are $3.50 each 1L carton.
Rirei's also have some Tip Top ice cream scoops which go for $2. Not a bad price if you ask me, and for those non-Kiwis out there, the Boysenberry flavour rocks (proven by a London mate who thought it was awesome).
They also bake their own loaves of bread daily so they are available instore. Occasionally you will find baguettes/french sticks and other types of bread.
Anyway, I hope this gives somewhat of an idea what you can find on the island. You can't expect the prices competable with NZ but provided they are all imported, most aren't too bad.
PS - Watch out for the batteries! Many have rusted at the ends and won't work!