See also "Mangaia - A personal memoir"
MANGAIA, the most southerly of the Cook Islands, is also the second largest. It has the distinction of being the oldest island in the Pacific. Analysis of its geology shows it dates from 18 million years ago which is probably why it arouses keen interest among geologists. Roughly circular in shape, it rises 15,600 feet (4750 m) above the ocean floor. It has a central volcanic plateau and, like many of the southern islands in the Cooks, it is surrounded by a 200-foot (60 m) high ring of cliffs of fossilised coral, makatea.
These limestone battlements are honeycombed with caves featuring stalactites and stalagmites of extraordinary beauty. The largest and most spectacular cave is Teruarere. This was rediscovered in the mid 1930s by a native Mangaian in company with the celebrated American writer and Pacific exile, Robert Dean Frisbie (Art and Culture). The high outer wall of makatea slopes into the interior and streams from it drain into a lake as well as some small swamps situated between the inner wall of the makatea and the remnants of the original volcanic cone in the centre which is the island's highest point, Rangimotia at 550 feet (169 m).
You can find more on Mangaia here: "Mangaia - A personal memoir"
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Revised: November 30 2003