The folks at Pacific Sim have been kind enough to send me a copy of their latest FSX scenery addon, NCRG Rarotonga, which includes a high quality model of the international airport and photoreal texture cover for the entire island at the centre of the Cooks.
I don't usually bother with installing scenery outside of NZ, but made a point to explore this new product having visited the island about five years ago on a family holiday. I was fortunate enough to be sitting on the starboard side of the aircraft on both the daytime arrival and departure from runway 08 and was able to snap a few photographs (below) so I could see how the scenery compares to the real world.
I'll let my screen captures to most of the talking, but I must comment that in my opinion, the quality of this addon is easily comparable with Orbx or FlyTampa. The weather beaten surface textures blend smoothly with the small but bright tropical styled terminal- just as I remember it.
The airport structure modelling appears seamless and authentic, and I liked the inclusion of other custom made buildings and moving traffic situated on the approach path from both ends of the runway. The tropical vegetation that fringes the manoeuvring area also is distinctly customised, and is a noticeable change from the virtual fauna that grows around the edges of the NZ airports I'm used to flying from... add in some humid showery real world weather and the atmosphere on screen really comes alive.
The photoreal coverage at 15cm/pixel is great too, and I could easily pick out the restaurants I'd eaten at, and hotel we stayed at whilst visiting in 2008. The coral reef that circles the coastline and gives the island it's uniquely recognisable appearance is photorealistic too, and has been done justice. Framerates were excellent under all conditions, and the excellent night lighting is a great bonus feature.
After comparing the screenshots above with my original photos, the only thing I was left wondering was would my old FS9 Cook Islands 20m mesh from Red Baron be compatible with this product. The included 76m mesh is a great step up from default, but really lacks definition from the 10m terrain I'm used to flying around back on the mainland possesses..?
Intel Core i5-2400|8GB RAM|ATI Radeon HD 5750 (1GB)|1TB Seagate Barracuda|Windows 7 64 Bit|FSX Gold Edition|24" AOC Widescreen