Cook Islands Travel, Cook Islands Holidays, Cook Islands, Cook Islands Tourism, Polynesian Culture

A newly built international airport in Rarotonga means the Cook Islands are well-equipped for two global airlines – Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. Your travel agent will tell you more, or visit or Regional flights between Tahiti and Rarotonga are operated by Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti; for details visit

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

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.


  • 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. 

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.

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 and

With the Cook Islands’ close ties to New Zealand, 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

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

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.

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

ANZ and Westpac Banks in downtown Avarua are open Mon-Fri from 9am – 3pm. ANZ extends its closing time on Friday’s to 4pm whilst Westpac Bank opens from 9am-12pm on Saturdays. Westpac Bank has an exchange service available at the airport for all international flights; this is located at the International Arrivals Terminal.

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.

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

The standard left hand rule applies to driving in the Cook Islands. And the maximum speed limit in the main township is 30 km/h and in the villages is 40km/h without a helmet. You must wear a helmet when driving in zones above 40km/h, specifically in the 50km/h speed limit in the less populated areas. It is essential to have a current Drivers Licence. Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK and the EU can now drive in the Cook Islands for up to six months using their overseas license.

Visitors over 16 can drive in the Cook Islands on their current and full overseas license for up to six months, unless the license expires, is revoked, suspended or disqualified in that time.

Visitors will be allowed to drive only the class of motor vehicle they are entitled to drive in their home country. If visitors hold an overseas driving license for a car only, the license holder will only be permitted to drive a car in the Cook Islands.

However, 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 NZ$20 license fee plus NZ$5 for theory test and NZ$5 for practical fee.

Visitors whose license is written in a language other than English will need an accurate translation.

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

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. Telepost, a Telecom outlet located at the CITC Shopping Complex, is open every Saturday 8am – 12 noon.

International telephone, mobile telephone, facsimile and internet services (including Broadband) are available through Telecom Cook Islands. Several internet cafes are located on Rarotonga and Aitutaki . WiFi is available at key locations.

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
manea pretty/handsome
mataora happy
kai food
teia ra today
apopo tomorrow
ra sun
marama moon
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