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Useful Information for Visitors
Public Holidays
The Cook Islands have 11 public holidays. On these days, bus service is either irregular or non existent. The town shops are closed. Some little shops are open either in the morning and evening. Many restaurants are closed. If you are holidaying during this time then please make sure you stock up and you arrange transport to cover you over the holidays.
Our holidays are as follows:
New Years Day - 1 Jan
Day after New Years - 2 Jan
Good Friday
Easter Monday
ANZAC Day - 25 Apr
Queen's Birthday - 4 Jun
Rarotonga Gospel Day - 25 Jul
Constitution Day - 4 Aug
CI Gospel Day - 26 Oct
Christmas Day - 25 Dec
Boxing Day - 26 Dec
Being stuck without food and transport on any of these days can ruin your holidays. Please note that Sundays are similar to public holidays.

Respect of Traditions
The Cook Islands is a religious nation. One of the reasons why the country is safe is because most people go to church or believe in God. Part of this is that the people are very modest people. We do not appreciate nudity of any form. If you are sunbathing please do not sunbathe naked, keep your togs or bikinis on. Also, when driving around in town, or walking through the town shops please do not walk around in bikinis. And please do not wear shorts and singlets if you attend a church service.  

Price of Goods
Some of the food prices here are better than New Zealand although most are still just a little bit higher. But what our philosophy is if the locals can afford to buy it and their wages are lower, then visitors should be able to as well. There are shops where you can get really cheap products such as Tangees in Nikao, Manea Foods on the Nikao backroad. Just ask the locals. But the supermarkets Foodland, CITC Supermarket, Meatco also offer very good prices and have a wider range. There isn't really any need of you to bring any food with you, just bring basic toiletry items, insect repellant and tanning oils.
Some local shopkeepers complain that visitors pick up things and study and study them before buying. They also open the fridge and study all the products in the fridge, some reading the labels again and again. Please be considerate, electricity is more expensive here than in your country. Most of our food products are New Zealand/Australian made, they don't really need that much studying except for the expiry date.

Plane Watching
This has become a favourite past time for many locals and an attraction for visitors. You can watch the planes land from the Nikao backroad or from Nikao school. Some visitors like to stand at the seawall while the plane lands just over them, this can be dangerous and is not encouraged.

Hitchiking is not something that amuses Cook Islanders. Please if you cannot afford to hire a vehicle, plan your outings using the bus. It is so unpleasant having someone frown at you because you don't pick them up.

Getting around Rarotonga is simple, there is basically only one main road following the coast and another inner road called the backroad which goes most of the way around. Our roads give the impression of a country road. There are trees and plants on either side, the roads curve a lot, it only has two lanes going in opposite directions, there doesn’t seem to be much indication by users of the road, cyclist share the same road and there isn’t much in the way of signage. So you are forgiven if you think it is a country road.

But a road is a road and the judgement you apply to the road in your country you should also apply here.
A lot of tourists opt to hire a scooter instead of a car. If you have young children and you haven’t ridden a scooter before then get a car. Why risk the safety of your child on a scooter. Some visitors don’t have the confidence to ride a scooter but choose it because it is cheaper and probably it is an opportunity to actually drive one, as well as it appears to be more fun. Make sure you get in a lot of practise on a quieter section of road or a field before you actually take on the town. The main problems with visitors using scooters is that they seem to be:
a) conscious of vehicle behind them and try to slow down or drive on the side of the road. Not a good idea. Have confidence and drive properly because sometimes the vehicle behind you is about to turn off the road and you have slowed down.
b) they do not know how to judge animals crossing the road well dogs in particular. Always watch the sides of the road as well as the road and if you see a dog about to make its way across the road, beep your horn frantically and just keep heading in the direction you are heading, slow down if you can. But don't try to swerve your bike as you are the one that is likely to lose control.

What is a road?
The biggest thing visitors don't know about our town is that the cars have priority at all turn ins. Visitors sometimes cross pathways/turn ins/roads without checking if anyone is turning in. The worst road for this offence is where the main bus depot is in town. That road between Cooks Corner and CITC is a real road for cars, do not cross it without looking. Even further up between the Energy Centre and the AVIS, please check if cars are turning in or pulling up before crossing. These are not pedestrian crossings.   

We have mosquitoes here. But we don't have malaria, only dengue carrying mosquitoes. Dengue Fever usually does not kill you and does go away after a few days but it does bring on symptoms like really bad headaches, fever, aching joints and bones, and rash. The country has a regular cleaning program where homes are required to ensure their property is tidy and free of mosquito-breeding areas. Fines of NZ$1000 for residential and NZ$10000 for businesses are charged for offenders. When traveling please bring insect repellant and apply throughout the day. 

No doubt you heard the Cook Islands is a safe place. It really is. The only crime that you should be wary about here is theft. As you would in your own country, keep a close eye on your valuables. Some accommodation have safes in their rooms, use these to protect your valuables. A tip would be to separate your passport, credit cards and cash - well don't keep them in the same place. Nobody wants your passport here, and there is no credit card fraud. If you are going to lose something, it will be cash, your digital camera, your mobile phone and your iPod
. So don't leave them lying around because they are really hard to recover.

Many visitors over the years have been very generous people. They have gone back to their countries and in their little communities bought supplies for the schools and
the hospital. Your generosity is very much appreciated. Thank you.

Food to try
You should try our 'ika mata' - marinated raw fish in coconut cream and lemon juice. Trust me, the lemon juice cooks the fish so it's not as raw as its name suggests. It's really nice.
Other food you should try is 'poke' - banana or pawpaw pudding. This is basically banana or pawpaw mixed with arrowroot/cassava flour and served with coconut cream. It's rich but its an experience.
Try our root crops, or our staples - taro, arrowroot, kumara. A lot of visitors don't like taro, they say it tastes like soap, but we locals like it. Maybe the trick is that you don't eat it by itself, you cut a bit off and eat it with raw fish. Most visitors prefer kumara, the sweet potato, we have this in many different colours - purple, white, orange, yellow, but they are still the same thing.
Coconut juice - we call it 'nu'. It's a very pleasant drink so try it at least once. You can get them at the market for about $4. The locals think $4 is expensive but that's the price you pay if you don't want to get your own off the tree.
Mayonaise - It's a dressing in your part of the world, but we have a potato salad that is called that. The potato salad is mixed with beetroot, chow chow and a home made egg mayonaise. Locals love it.
Mitiore - This is grated coconut marinated in the juice of small white crabs with sprinklings of spring onion and sea urchins.
Seafood - If you do visit the Outer Islands there is a lot of different kind of seafood you can try like 'remu' - sea grapes, and all kinds of sea urchins, crabs etc. Do not eat sea urchins straight out of the sea as you may be unfamiliar with what is edible.




Learn Maori:
Kia Orana - Greetings
(key ah o ra na)
Kia Manuia - Good Luck
(key ah ma noo e ah)
Ka kite - See ya
(car key teh)
Meitaki Maata - Thank you
(may tack e ma ah tah)

Rental Home Vacancies:
Ava Lodge
Napa Beach Bungalows

Mountview Lodges

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