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Cook Islands


If you're looking for that tropical getaway, honeymoon, the Cook Islands might be the prefect destination.  You'll find 15 islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Inviting beached with crystal waters, white sands and warm weather all year round.  "Kia Orana" is your welcome to the islands.  Here you'll find paradise, surrounded by Blue lagoons and the white beaches of Aitutaki.  This is not the destination for shopping.  Take a cruise around the island, hike to the waterfalls, many watersports available or relax by the pool.  These island will truly give you a magical experience while experiencing the Polynesian culture and hospitality.

How to Get There

Qantas operate flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  They do fly seasonally from Perth to Auckland and Jetstar also fly from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Gold Coast to Auckland with connections to Rarotonga.  

Direct flights operate once a week from Sydney to Rarotonga with Air New Zealand,. Virgin fly from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast via Auckland to Ratotonga and seasonally from Christchurch to Ratotonga.


If hiring a car of scooter, the standard left hand rule appplies to driving in the Cook Islands.

  • Driving permit
  • You can use a valid Australian driver's licence for up to 6 months.
  • You can only drive vehicles covered by your licence. For example, with an Australian car licence you can drive a car but not a motor scooter.
  • If you're staying longer than 6 months, you can get a Cook Islands driver's licence from the Cook Islands Police Department in Rarotonga.

Road travel Driving can be dangerous, particularly at night. Hazards include poorly maintained roads, line markings and street lighting.

If you plan to drive in the Cook Islands, check local traffic laws and practices.

You can get a temporary motorbike or motor scooter licence in the Cook Islands. To apply, you must:

  • sit a practical test at the police headquarters in Avarua
  • show your current Australian driver's licence and passport
  • Queues can be long. Be prepared to wait.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • If you don't follow the local laws, your insurance policy may not cover you.
  • If you want to ride a motorbike:
  • check that your travel insurance covers it
  • learn local laws
  • don't drink alcohol and ride


Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines. Arrange one through your hotel or resort.

Public transport

  • Limited buses are available on Rarotonga.
  • Public transport is limited on other islands.

Sea travel

Travel by boat can be dangerous. Passenger ferry services can be overcrowded and cancelled at short notice.

To reduce your risk on boats:

  • use your own life jacket
  • carry an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and satellite phone
  • avoid single-engine boats
  • travel in a group of boats that are no more than half full
  • tell someone you trust about your plans, including when you expect to return

Cruise Ships are sailing to the Cook Islands on an occasional itinerary. 


Cook Islands has 2 official currencies:

  • Cook Islands Dollar (CKD)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Cook Islands dollars can only be exchanged in the Cook Islands. The bank at the airport can change currency. Most shops and hotels accept credit cards. ATMs are limited outside Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Before you leave, ask your bank if your cards will work overseas.



Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.

Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.

You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.

The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.

Lost or stolen passport

Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.

Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.

If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:

  • In Australia, contact the Australian Passport Information Service.
  • If you're overseas, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate.


*The following information may not apply while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. 

  • Visa-free travel for short stays
  • You don't need visa for a tourist visit of up to 30 days.

In other situations, you'll need a visa. Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration on +682 29 347 for the details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.

To enter the Cook Islands, you'll need to show proof of:

  • an onward or return ticket
  • enough money for your stay
  • arranged accommodation


Tipping is not customary in the cook Islands, However you will not offend for rewarding good service.  Bargaining is not encouraged and may cause offence.


The Cook Islands experiences natural disasters and severe weather, such as:

  • cyclones and tropical storms
  • earthquakes
  • tsunamis

If there's a natural disaster or warning:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof place
  • monitor local media such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • keep in touch with your friends and family

If you're travelling after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator or airline to find out if services are affected.  

Cyclones and severe weather

Cyclone season is from November to April. Tropical storms and cyclones can happen in any month. The direction and strength of cyclones can change suddenly. 

Tropical storms and cyclones can:

  • cause flooding and landslides
  • disrupt essential services, such as water, electricity and communications
  • If there's a cyclone or severe tropical storm:
  • you may get stuck in the area
  • flights could be delayed or suspended
  • available flights may fill quickly
  • adequate shelter may not be available
  • ports may close

Monitor weather updates and warnings:

  • Fiji Meteorological Service
  • World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre

If a cyclone is approaching:

  • know the evacuation plan for your hotel or cruise ship
  • identify your local shelter
  • stock up on bottled water

More information:

Surviving cyclones: Preparation and safety procedures

The Cook Islands can experience earthquakes and tsunamis. Evacuation signs in Rarotonga will direct you if there's a tsunami alert.

If there's an earthquake or a tsunami alert:

  • take directions from your host or hotel
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • monitor the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and local sources
  • move to higher ground if you're near the beach or in a low-lying area

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Bev Wills Blog operates under license and as an agent of Your Travel & Cruise Pty Ltd, ABN 69105940332. Your Travel & Cruise is a member of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) and the Magellan Travel group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Helloworld Travel.  
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