Along the coastal road of Mangaia there are certain roads that lead inland, to what the locals call ‘upstairs’ (the island's interior).
As written by Florence Syme-Buchanan, “these are pathways cutting through giant cliffs of makatea". Makatea is the fossilised coral that creates the rugged topography of the island.
According to legend, the pathways “were created to provide a quick escape route during times of tribal warfare”.
The most famous ‘cutting' is found in the village of Oneroa. Driving through the one-way road, one must beep or toot to caution any on-coming vehicles. According to Ewan Smith, this "cutting though near-impenetrable was breached in 1951, using surplus explosives from World War 2." Thus enabling locals easy access by vehicle to the islands fertile interior.
Click here to discover why you should visit Mangaia, next time you're in the Cook Islands!