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Getting Around

PK and place-name addresses

On Tahiti, Moorea and Ra'iātea, locals rely on PK (Points Kilométriques or kilometric reference points). It is a simple system that provides reference points alongside a transport route. From this system stem a few place-name addresses that are a bit unusual.


The rationale behind the PKs

Most Polynesian islands have a coastal road that circles the entire island. PKs are kilometre posts that mark road distances, usually from the main town.

On Tahiti, Kilometre post 0 is Pape'ete's cathedral. Distance in kilometres is counted from west to east until reaching Taravao (Kilometre post 60 if approached from the west and Kilometre post 53 if approached from the east). Tahiti, which is a peninsula, also has PK road markers starting from Fort Taravao (Kilometre post 0) The same system is used on Moorea (Kilometre post 0 is found in Vairae), Ra'iātea (Kilometre post 0 is found in Uturoa), Bora Bora (Kilometre post 0 is found in Vaitape), and so forth.



Each coastal road has a few private easements (residential backroads). These backroads are not interconnected, so drivers have to return to the coastal road to get around the island. This means that all means of transportation (cars, buses, bicycles and pedestrians) have to share crowded roads. Always use caution!


Place-name addresses

The place-name address often includes:

- The name of the building (Teva Guest House, Tamanu shopping centre, etc.);

- The PK road marker;

- The indication: seaside, mountainside, east coast or west coast;

- The name of the road or easement or some sort of landmark identifying the sought-after location (behind the pharmacy, just after the car park, in front of the Tahiti Museum, etc.)

- The municipality.

If the place-name address is not enough to help you, don't hesitate to ask for help from any passer-by or local shopkeeper!


Postal addresses

As place-name addresses are not very reliable, mail is delivered to post office boxes (“BP” or “Boîtes Postales”) operated by the Tahitian postal service, OPT or Office des Postes et Télécommunication. Every resident has a numbered post office box in a municipality that may be different from the actual place of residence. People therefore have two addresses: one is a place-name address and the other is a postal address.