A newly built international airport in Rarotonga means the Cook Islands are well-equipped for three global airlines – Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Jetstar.  Regional flights between Tahiti and Rarotonga are operated by Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti.  Domestic Flights are operated by Air Rarotonga.

Entry Requirements 
When you come to the Cook Islands, a valid passport and a return ticket will allow you a stay of up to 31 days. Extensions may be granted on a monthly basis – for up to six months. New Zealand citizens are eligible for a 90 day stay on arrival. For extensions, apply 2 weeks before your permit expires. This does not guarantee admission to the Cook Islands, Immigration officers at a port of entry will have the final determination. For further information on Immigration, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration's website at www.mfai.gov.ck.

You must have sufficient funds for your maintenance and confirmed booking/payments and contact information of the accredited accommodation you intend to stay at, as camping is not permitted in the Cook Islands
.

Holders of Passports with Less than 6 Months Validity

With the exceptions indicated below, holders of passports that are valid for less than six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay in the Cook Islands must seek authority to travel to the Cook Islands from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration in Rarotonga.

Exceptions

  • This travel restriction does not apply to Cook Islanders and Permanent Residents of the Cook Islands.
  • From 30 August 2010, New Zealand (NZ) and Australian passport holders may also travel to the Cook Islands without seeking authority from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration provided their passports are valid for at least seven days beyond their intended period of stay in the Cook Islands. 

ATTENTION: Sailors wanting to berth their yachts in the docks of Avatiu Harbour need to obtain moorings from the Harbourmaster at the Ports Authority, PO Box 84, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. For more information visit www.mfemf.gov.ck and www.ports.co.ck

Customs 
Personal effects including sports equipment and clothing are exempt from duty. 

 Duty Free items include: 

  • 200 cigarettes or 250gms of tobacco or 50 cigars or a mixture of not more than 250 grams in total
  • Two litres of mixture/ or not of spirits, wine and liqueur OR 4.5 litres of beer
  • Good in excess of NZ$250 are liable for duty

Any food items must be declared on arrival. For more information visit www.agriculture.gov.ck

Departure Tax 
There is no departure tax payable at the airport as this is included in your international tickets.
If you are departing the Cook Islands by Marine Craft, you are required to pay departure tax of $66.30.


Local Air Transport 
The Southern Group of the Cook Islands is connected regularly by the local airline, Air Rarotonga, with Aitutaki having several daily return flights. However travel to the Northern Group is infrequent and usually only on request. For further details contact your nearest travel agent or visit www.airraro.com

Medical Services 
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. 

Visitors must meet their own medical costs during their time in the Cook Islands, including medical evacuation to New Zealand if specialist care is required.  We recommend visitors take out health insurance to cover possible unexpected costs.

If an emergency should occur during your stay, the emergency services number is 999.

Currency 
The Cook Islands unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar, supplemented by local Cook Islands' notes and coins. The unique local coins and notes are not negotiable outside the Cook Islands, but are keenly sought by collectors worldwide. 

Banking 
ANZ, BSP, and BCI Banks in downtown Avarua are open Mon-Fri from 9am – 3pm. ANZ extends its closing time on Friday’s to 4pm.  BSP in Avarua is also open from 9 - 12 Noon on Saturdays.

ATM’s are conveniently located around Rarotonga and Aitutaki and EFTPOS is available at some hotels and stores. 

Western Union has an office in Avarua offering money exchange and transfers. 


Climate 
The Cook Islands enjoy a pleasantly warm and sunny climate all year round. June to August are the cooler months, whilst November to March marks the warmer season, with occasional tropical showers expected. It is also known as cyclone season – something to be aware of although not necessarily a deterrent as they are not a regular occurrence. 

The drier months, from April to November, have an average of about 26°C, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 22°C (min) and 30°C (max). 

The table below indicates the prevalence of sunshine and temperatures. Severe weather is rare and infrequent. 

Month

Temp. (°C)

Hours

Max

Min

Sunshine

Jan

28.8

22.9

179

Feb

29.1

23.1

171

Mar

28.9

22.6

181

Apr

28.2

22.0

174

May

26.6

20.4

162

Jun

25.6

19.3

169

Jul

25.2

18.6

177

Aug

24.9

18.4

177

Sep

25.3

19.1

177

Oct

26.0

20.0

185

Nov

27.1

21.0

178

Dec

27.8

21.9

181


Driving 
The standard left hand rule applies to driving in the Cook Islands. The maximum speed limit in the main township is 30 km/h and in villages around the rest of the island is 50km/h.  On a motorbike the maximum speed in the villages is 40km/h without a helmet. You must wear a helmet if you wish to drive above that speed in the 50km/h zones.

Visitors (over 16) from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK and the EU can now drive in the Cook Islands for up to six months using their full overseas license; provided it does not expire, is revoked, suspended or disqualified in that time.  On an overseas license, you will only be allowed to drive the class of motor vehicle that you are entitled to drive in your home country.

If a visitor wants to ride a scooter or motorbike in the Cook Islands and is not licensed to do so at home, he or she will still have to obtain a Cook Islands Driving License (either Class A covering motorbikes/scooters or Class AB covering both regular vehicles and motorbikes/scooters). This involves a theory and practical test at the Police Headquarters in Avarua and the payment of a NZ$20 license fee plus NZ$5 for the theory test and NZ$5 for the practical.

Visitors whose license is written in a language other than English will need an accurate translation in order to drive in the Cook Islands using their overseas license.

Road rules are strict when it comes to drinking and driving, so best not to. 


Communication 
If you are a stamp collector, the colourful Cook Islands stamps are distinctive and sought after by enthusiasts. Mail is available from the Post Office, which opens Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. 

The telecommunications network in the Cook Islands is operated by Bluesky.  There is an outlet located at the CITC Shopping Complex in the main strip of Avarua which is open 8 -to 4pm Monday to Friday, and Saturday 8:30 - 1pm.  The main office is down the road from the Cooks Corner bus stop (also in Avarua) and is open 7am - 11pm daily.  There is also an outlet in Muri which is open 10 - 6pm Monday to Friday, and Sunday Noon til 4pm.

International telephone, mobile telephone, facsimile and internet services (including Broadband) are available through these Bluesky outlets. Several internet cafes are located on Rarotonga and Aitutaki , with Wifi Hotspots (where you can login with prepaid vouchers) also widely located around these islands.

Local Time
Cook Islands’ time is GMT - 10

Language 
Cook Islands Maori is the local language but everyone also speaks English. Here are a few local words you might like to try during your visit: 

Kia Orana

Hello

Aere ra

Goodbye

Meitaki

Thank you

ae

yes

kare

no

tane

man

vaine

woman

kai

food

Churches

The Cook Islands are known for their singing of traditional hymns in church.  If you would like to attend a service, the main ones open to visitors are the Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC).  There are 6 of these churches on Rarotonga (Avarua, Matavera, Ngatngiia, Titikaveka, Arorangi, and Nikao) with the service at all locations starting at 10am every Sunday.

Marriage Licenses

Requirements under the Marriages Act 1973 of the Cook Islands

Section 23: Notice must be given to the registrar by either the bride or groom

Section 24: The registrar will no earlier than the 3rd day after notice of the marriage, issue a marriage license. 

This means that anyone wanting to get married in the Cook Islands needs to allow/arrive in the country at least 3 days prior to the wedding.

Section 18 and 20: Anyone under 16 is not permitted to get married in the Cook Islands.  Anyone aged 16 – 20 who wishes to get married must have parental consent.

Documents Required

Passport and Birth Certificates of bridge and groom

If divorced, a Decree Absolute (in English)

If widow/widower, a Death Certificate of the deceased spouse

French Citizens wishing to get Married in the Cook Islands

French Citizens wishing to marry in the Cook Islands must file a Publication des Bans with the French Consulate in Wellington, New Zealand.  If this is not done it can complicate the process of transcribing the marriage into the French registry at a later date.

Contact information.wellington-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr to check this procedure.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
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