The Cook Islands are surprisingly easy to reach from the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Air New Zealand operates a weekly non-stop direct flight from Los Angeles, a direct flight from Sydney to Rarotonga on a weekly basis and daily direct flights from New Zealand. Virgin Australia also operates four flights via New Zealand to Rarotonga. Air Tahiti operates twice weekly from Tahiti to Rarotonga.
The main point of entry to The Cook Islands is the Rarotonga International Airport. A visa is not required for bona-fide visitors, but visitors must have a passport valid for at least six more months and a valid return ticket, adequate financial means of supporting stay, and suitable accommodation. New Zealand citizens travelling on New Zealand passports are not required to have proof of onward passage.
Upon departure all visitors will be charged the following departure tax:
When you come to the Cook Islands, a valid passport and a return ticket will allow you a stay of up to 31 days, but this is currently under review in order to allow visitors the choice of staying up to six months at a time. In the meantime, extensions are granted on a monthly basis – for up to five months. Remember to apply two weeks before your visa expires.
From well-appointed family resorts to secluded retreats, luxury lodges, self-catering cabins to budget motels, the Cook Islands offer accommodations to fit every pocketbook. Most facilities provide a choice of room category and rates. The larger numbers of properties are found on Rarotonga, where they are sprinkled around the island’s perimeter.
Aitutaki has a good variety of styles to choose from and other islands in the Southern Group offer good budget facilities; however accommodation in the Northern Group is limited and should be booked well in advance.
Telecom Cook Islands Ltd is committed to providing you with the best value for your telecommunication services. They have a range of services that suit a diverse range of need for all. International telephone and directory, fax, E-mail, WIFI, internet connections and services are available from 7am – 11pm seven days a week at the Telecom Cook Islands Office in the main township of Avarua. Most accommodation offer IDD facilities. There are also internet cafes in the main townships. Mail can be sent from the Post Office.
DHL courier services are available too.
Cook Islands Television (CITV) telecasts local and imported shows throughout the week in both English and Cook Islands Maori. Local AM and FM Radio Stations offer a mix of music, talkback sessions and international news from New Zealand and Australia.
The currency used in The Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar. International banking services (Westpac www.westpac.co.ck and ANZ www.anz.com ) are available on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Traveler’s checks and main currencies can be exchanged at hotels, banks and foreign exchange outlets such as Western Union. Banking facilities are also available at the airport and major credit cards are accepted at most shops and restaurants. ATM machines are available on Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Although the dress code is informal, cool and comfortable, beach attire should not be worn when visiting town and villages. Nude or topless sunbathing is “PROHIBITED” and will cause offence. A light sweater may come in handy for the cooler evenings. A respectable standard of dress is required for church services.
The electricity in the Cook Islands is 240 volts, 50Hz cycles, the same as New Zealand and Australia so converters are necessary in order to operate US appliances. The plugs have two angled prongs (like those in New Zealand and Australia), so an adapter, in some cases, may be needed.
With the Cook Islands’ close ties to New Zealand, personal effects including sports equipment and clothing are exempt from duty.
Duty Free items include:
However goods in excess of $NZ250 could be subject to duty. Frozen and canned food and vacuum packed produce are also permitted but not fruits and plants – these must be declared at Customs otherwise they could be confiscated.
A range of medical and dental services are available in Rarotonga which also includes a hospital. Aitutaki and Atiu also have limited medical aid with very small hospitals.
Emergency services operate on Rarotonga and there is an optometrist plus several pharmacies for prescriptions. Physiotherapists are also available for you to take advantage of while in the Cook Islands. Medical and dental services are available and there is a well-equipped hospital with New Zealand trained staff situated in Rarotonga, with a smaller hospital in Aitutaki. There are no venomous snakes and most of the insects are innocuous – but look out for centipedes which do bite. The coral reefs should be treated with caution.
You can also browse some of the Health Services on offer here in the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands Maori (or Rarotongan) is the main language, although most people speak English as well. This makes it an ideal destination for English speaking visitors.
Every price for goods and services has the tax included.
The Cook Islands are 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Tipping isn’t expected and is contrary to Cook Island’s custom, however if you feel the service was exceptional, like any other country in the world, we appreciate your acknowledgement.
The official domestic airline of the Cook Islands is Air Rarotonga. It operates regular schedules to all outer islands with airport facilities.
The Island Bus on Rarotonga offers convenient low cost transport, operating regular schedules around the island in both directions. It will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on request. Rental cars and motorbike/scooter rentals are also available.
Camping is prohibited in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are safe but never leave your personal belongings unattended and ensure your accommodation and means of transport is locked at all times.
The Cook Islands are a year-round destination with two distinct seasons. The cooler season, from April to October, is dry and averages 68-78oF, with cool nights. The warmer season is from November to March, when temperatures rise to around 84oF. The Islands are out of the usual cyclone path and severe weather is very rare.
For additional information about the Cook Islands refer to our website www.cookislands.travel