As the largest of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is generally a first stop for anyone coming to visit the Cooks. With endlessly happy locals, more coconut trees than you could count and a warm summery breeze all year round, it’s the perfect place to get a glimpse of life in the islands and learn more about the Polynesian culture.
When To Visit: The best time to visit Rarotonga and the Cook Islands is during the dry season, which runs from May to October.
However, Raro is notoriously sunny and warm all year round, so there’s not really a bad time to visit the islands. The “rainy season” from December to March will see short, heavy bursts of rain followed by hours of sunshine.
Language: The official languages of the Cook Islands are English and Cook Islands Maori – which is also known as Rarotongan.
International Airport: Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) is the main airport of the Cook Islands with most international flights transiting through New Zealand.
basics about the cook islands
Time Zone: The Cook Islands fall just over the International Date Line, running on Cook Islands Standard Time GMT -10, which is about 20 hours behind Australia’s East Coast.
Currency: The currency in the Cook Islands is New Zealand Dollars $NZD. At the time of writing, $1NZD converts to $0.94AUD, $0.66USD or £0.50GBP. The Cook Islands also have a few of their own country coins that are circulating the island, which you might receive as change.
Credit Cards & ATMs: Credit cards are widely accepted around Rarotonga, with the exception of the local bus, markets and fruit stalls. There are a few ATMs on the island, however they are few and far between and have very steep fees – between $2 and $8NZD per transaction. Get some cash out before you arrive to avoid any hassles once you’re there.
Driving: Always drive on the left side of the road in the Cook Islands.
Power: On the Cook Islands the power plugs and sockets are of type I. The standard voltage is 240 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Internet Access: Wifi is very difficult to find in the Cook Islands, with even hotel internet being charged by the MB and it all being very expensive. This is the place where you should disconnect.
Visa Requirements: Visas are not required to enter the Cook Islands, but you will need to show your passport and the details of your return or onwards flight to enter and stay for 31 days. New Zealand citizens are automatically able to stay for up to 90 days.