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Cook Islands

Cook Islands

A warm lagoon, a swaying hammock and a waft of frangipani are waiting for you in the Cook Islands, just under four hours by air from New Zealand. Forget long arrival procedures and complex transfers – slipping into Island life here could not be easier. Step off the plane in Rarotonga to a song of greeting and an ei (flower garland) welcome; very soon you will be relaxing at your accommodation – because although ‘Raro’ is the biggest of the Cooks, it is really quite small. Villages dot the shoreline, and the main town, Avarua, occupies the top end of this almost apple-shaped island. It’s probably the most easy-going national capital you’ll ever visit, and as well as a good market, has interesting boutiques and eateries. Woven bags and jewellery are two top buys here. Chances are you’ll be staying on Raro for at least part of your visit, so do get out and explore. It has classically gorgeous lagoon beaches but also a mountainous, forest-clad interior that’s perfect for visitors wanting a little adventure. And, with a bus that circles the coast in both directions, it’s very easy to get from place to place. Rarotonga is the stepping stone to the outer islands – these are scattered across two million squares of the Pacific, and while some lie less than an hour’s flight away, the most isolated and pristine are accessible only by sea. Among those easily reached by air and catering for visitors are Aitutaki with its astoundingly beautiful lagoon, Atiu, Mangaia and Ma’uke. Wherever you are you’ll experience the Cook Islanders’ deep sense of hospitality and you’ll quickly become accustomed to the relaxed pace. Explore, enjoy the ambience, have a drink with the locals and join them to sing hymns on a Sunday: unforgettable. We can’t imagine anyone failing to fall in love with these friendly, gentle and very beautiful islands. They are one of the most charming places on earth. Rich in Polynesian culture, they are also closely linked with New Zealand – and our dollar is used there, so there’s no currency exchange to worry about on arrival.

(Image: ©Cook Islands Tourism)


OUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO EXPLORE IN THE COOK ISLANDS


 

Just under four hours away this idyllic paradise is super close to us here in New Zealand. Many Kiwi’s have already cottoned on to this fact and the Cook Islands continues to be one of our most popular travelling destinations in the South Pacific.

Rarotonga
Rarotonga

The main island of the Cooks, Rarotonga, is not only a holiday destination in itself but the gateway to more far-flung isles. Not that you have to leave its sandy shores. Rarotonga is almost completely encircled by a lagoon, so water-based activities are everywhere. (Image: ©Cook Islands Tourism)

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Aitutaki
Aitutaki

Aitutaki and its lagoon captivate visitors from that first glimpse out the aircraft window. Startlingly white swathes of sand contrast with the deep azure of the encircling Pacific Ocean and the remarkable turquoise of its lagoon studded with tiny islets. (Image: ©Cook Islands Tourism/Craig Owen)

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Outer Islands
Outer Islands

Authentic island life flourishes on the three remote volcanic and coral islands of Atiu, Mangaia and Ma’uke, all less than an hours flight from Rarotonga.

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OUR FAVOURITE WAYS TO EXPERIENCE THE COOK ISLANDS




The Cook Islands turquoise lagoons, idyllic beaches, mountainous backdrop aligned with beautiful resorts and accommodation throughout the nation ensure that we can tailor your tropical getaway to suit your needs and wants. From spa and wellness packages, yoga retreats, cultural encounters and island combo escapes, we can create an experience holiday just for you.

Rarotonga and Aitutaki Island Hopping

Rarotonga & Aitutaki Combo

Get the most out of your Cook Islands getaway and discover the best of both worlds with this island combo including stays in both Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Rarotonga, the hub of the Cook Islands has so much to see and do with markets, island feasts, a range of tours, delicious restaurants and more. Aitutaki is often referred to as having the world’s most stunning lagoon. Secluded and romantic it offers a more relaxed holiday experience and is the top of any bucket list in the South Pacific. We recommend three nights at the 4-star Little Polynesian Resort – a boutique resort perfect for those seeking a romantic picturesque escape followed by three nights at the 5-star Pacific Resort Aitutaki. With 27 luxurious rooms all absolute beachfront this gem of the South Pacific is an idyllic haven for couples and honeymooners alike.

Ikurangi

Ikurangi Eco Retreat

Every now and then it’s important to take time out of the hustle and bustle of life and focus on ourselves. Ikurangi Eco Retreat is the perfect place to do this. The retreats core focal point is on health, well-being and relaxation. Nestled in the hills of Matavera, Ikurangi was built with the environment at the forefront and made to have as minimal impact as possible. The sustainably sourced materials, natural and biodegradable toiletries and bicycles were key in developing an eco-friendly accommodation site. They offer a few different variations of Yoga here, with a combination of private sessions, group classes and stand up paddle board yoga, there is something to suit everyone. This retreat is the Cook Islands only glamping spot. Sleep in Safari-style tents, bathe under a starlit sky and find harmony with nature.

Te Vara Nui

Te Vara Nui & Progressive Dinner

With its warm, welcoming and friendly people, the Cook Islands is the perfect holiday destination for those seeking a taste of traditional Polynesian culture. Te Vara Nui Village is Rarotonga’s leading cultural attraction located in Muri Beach. On arrival you will be met by the local Maori people who will share their stories, knowledge and heritage with you during the tour. Sit back and enjoy the dancers and musicians as they perform by flaming torchlight on floating stages. Venture out to the villages to experience true Cook Islands cuisine, hospitality and lifestyle with a progressive dinner. You’ll enjoy three sumptuous courses while listening to the sounds of the local ukuleles. Each course is served in a different local home. The Cook Islands will capture your heart with its vibrant culture and spirit.

Rumours Luxury Villa and Spa

Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa, Rarotonga

Rumours multi award-winning Waterfall Spa has been selected by the World Travel Awards Group as the winner for the “Best Resort Spa in the Cook Islands” for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. This beautifully designed Waterfall Spa will have you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated for your tropical island holiday in Rarotonga. The spa uses Ayurda products and there are a whole range of treatments on offer including facials, body masks, body scrubs, massages, manicures and pedicures, so you’re sure to find something to soothe the body, soul and mind. So escape the everyday worries and stresses of life and take some time out to indulge and pamper yourself. The professional and welcoming staff at Rumours will ensure you have one of the best spa experiences to be had.



TIPS FOR YOUR COOK ISLAND HOLIDAY


  1. BOOK EARLY
  2. With the addition of Virgin Australia flying direct from Christchurch to Rarotonga and Jetstar joining Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia with flights to Rarotonga from Auckland this little paradise is becoming more and more popular or kiwi’s. We’re already seeing resorts book out much earlier than usual, particularly over Easter and school holidays. Make sure you book early to ensure you get into your favourite resort and don’t miss out.

  3. IT'S A SNORKELLERS PARADISE
  4. From giant trevally to reef fish, Rarotonga’s underwater odyssey is replete with curiosities. Aroa Lagoon Marine Reserve offers safe snorkelling and zero coral. Then there’s Tikioki - ‘Fruits of Rarotonga’, which is one of the island’s permanent marine parks, with a nearby café for post-snorkelling refreshments. Blackrock, which is considered one of the calmest places to snorkel in Rarotonga is great for families with kids, it also has a BBQ area.

  5. EXPLORE ON WHEELS
  6. Don’t get caught in a Raro downpour – hire a car and follow the coastal road come rain or shine. With only 32 kilometres of road it only takes about an hour to get around. Discover deserted beaches, villages and yummy eateries. Drivers will need to go to the Police Station to get a Cook Island’s driver’s license. Scooters are available too, you’ll just need to take a test riding up and down the street without falling off!

  7. ISLAND HOPPING
  8. For an even slower pace of life, fly 45 minutes north of Rarotonga to the laid-back island of Aitutaki. Allow a stay of at least three days to ensure you experience the best Aitutaki has to offer, or book a day trip aboard the Titi Ai Tonga catamaran. Tours include flights, lunch, snorkelling and of course, an idyllic cruise skimming the shores of Aitutaki’s dazzling lagoon. One of Aitutaki’s most pristine islets is One Foot Island; a visually stunning nugget of nirvana. Take your passport because you can have it stamped at the world’s tiniest post office.

  9. ATTEND A SUNDAY SERVICE
  10. Sunday is dedicated to church, with certain bars, restaurants and establishments closed. It’s also a great opportunity to attend a Sunday service; an experience strongly encouraged by the locals. You’ll be bowled over by the singing, energy and atmosphere. A warm welcome is guaranteed, and a respectful dress code much appreciated. Cover your shoulders and knees, and ladies, it’s the perfect occasion to pull out your fanciest hat.

  11. HIT THE MARKETS
  12. Punanga Nui Market is a must-do for unique and well-priced Pacifica pieces, clothing, handicrafts and black pearls. Although open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, Saturday is the main market day with more stalls and live music performed on the stage. For a delicious selection of food, Muri Beach night market boasts island specialities at very reasonable prices. From curries to locally baked cakes, entertainers and stage singers.



NEED TO KNOW



 
Cook Islands

COUNTRY NAME


Cook Islands

Capital

CAPITAL


Avarua

Clock

TIME DIFFERENCE


Current time in Cook Islands
New Zealand is 22 hours ahead of the Cook Islands

Currency

CURRENCY


New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Electricity

ELECTRICITY


Current is 240V, 50HZ. Plug is a 3 point rectangle-pin adaptor

Language

LANGUAGE


English and Cook Island Maori

Banking

BANKING


ANZ Bank is located in Rarotonga and Aitutaki. ANZ ATM’s are located at Avarua

Meidcal

MEDICAL


Hospital is located in Rarotonga

Visa Information

VISAS


If you’re travelling on a NZ Passport a Visa is not required, however if you intend on staying longer than 32 days a visa will be required

Flight times

FLIGHT TIMES


3 hours and 55 minutes from Auckland top Rarotonga, 6 hours and 20 minutes from Wellington to Rarotonga and 6 hours and 401 minutes from Christchurch to Rarotonga

Travel consultant training leave

BEST TIME TO GO


From late April – October. This time of year falls in the middle of a tropical winter, but winter is dry in Rarotonga and these months are best for sunshine and warm weather. You’re looking at temperatures of highs of 25°C to Lows of 19°C. There’s never a bad time to visit the tropical island paradise that is Rarotonga, embodying a warm tropical climate all year round.

Air hostess

AIRLINES


Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia and Jetstar







Our Rarotonga and Aitutaki Holiday Packages & Deals
COOK ISLANDS ON SALE




Our best Cook Islands packages right now, created by our travel experts to offer you incredible holidays at serious value. Find even more deals on accommodation, flights, touring and sightseeing on our Cook Islands On Sale section.
 

 


INSPIRE ME
Cook Islands holiday planning articles



Are you planning your next trip to the Cook Islands? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on the Cook Islands.

 


When in Rarotonga, visit Aitutaki




WE'RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU ALONG THE WAY




This is just a taste of the information and advice we have available through our House of Travel consultants.
Enquire below or pop in-store and talk to one of our travel experts today.

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