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INFORMATION
1. History, Geography & Economy
2. Visitor Essentials
3. Legends
4. Events
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Currency
New Zealand Dollar.  There are still some Cook Islands coins floating around of which the 5c, 10c, 20c and 50c resemble the New Zealand and Australian coins in terms of size and shape, so be careful not to take them back with you unless you want to keep them of course. Otherwise, there are still old Cook Islands $1, $2 and $5 coins in use.    The New Zealand denominations  are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2 coins and $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 notes.

Foreign Currency Exchange
There is a bank at the airport and two in the town center.  Look for Westpac and ANZ signs. Banks open from 9am-3pm, Mon-Fri and Westpac opens on Saturday mornings as well.   NZ$1 ~= US$0.48.

Credit Cards
Most major hotels and restaurants accept VISA, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club.  Both banks can give you cash advances on your credit cards.

Power Supply
240V 50Hz

Season/Climate
Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) high 29C, low 22C, humid
Winter (Jun, Jul, Aug) high 25C, low 19C
Note that the hurricane season is from Nov-Apr

Language
Cook Islands Maori, English.  Note that everyone speaks English.

Visitor Permit
If you are in the country for less than 31 days, you do not need a Visa.  You are issued with a visitor permit on arrival.

Departure Tax
NZ$30 and must be purchased from the banks.  There is a bank at the airport.

Town Bus Stop
All town buses stop outside the Cooks Corner Cafe in the town center.  You can stop or hail the bus down from anywhere on the main road.  There are two buses running in opposite directions around the island and are 30min apart.  Pick up a timetable at the Airport Information Stand.

Drivers License
If you want to drive in the Cook Islands, you will need to pick up a Cook Islands Drivers license.  For a motor car license, just present your current drivers license.   For a motor bike license, you will have to do a short practical test.  Driving is on the left-hand side and the average speed is 40km/hr.

Dogs
Dogs are free to roam all over the place and have caused many visitors to fall off their scooters.  The best thing to do is pull to the side of the road, however, if you were going to fast to stop then the trick is not to manoeuver around the animal but to drive straight for it and let it do the manoeuvering.  But don't blame me if this doesn't work.

Insects
Mosquito's are more common inland rather than by the beach.  I don't think they like the salt.  However, for your own protection bring some insect repellent.   The only other insect you should be worried about are centipedes, but these live in dark and damp places so you probably won't see any.  You may see cockroaches or spiders but these are harmless.

Clothing
Cook Islanders do not appreciate visitors sunbathing topless or wearing bikini's in the town.  In fact, I believe that the police warn you if you do this.  Also, if you go to church, women, please show your respect by wearing a dress or skirt.

Photo Developments
You can buy film from several of the major stores.  To develop them visit the
Fuji Image Centre.

Pharmacy
There are two pharmacies, Vans is by the Empire Movie Theater and the CITC pharmacy is in the town center.

Doctors/Hospital/Dentist
The public hospital is up on the hill overlooking the airport.  Otherwise, there is an outpatient in Avarua that can handle basic medical needs.  The other option is to see a private doctor, such as Dr. Noovao ph: 20835.  For a private dentist, call Phillip Nicholas ph: 20169. 

Television
There is only one TV channel.  You can watch the world news in the mornings from 7-8am or at night on New Zealand One Network News from 8.30-9.30pm.  Cook Islands Television may also televise major sports event otherwise go in and see them for a private screening.

Newspapers/Magazines
For an evaluation of restaurants and the night life, look out for Todays Vision Magazine in stores, the local TV Guide. There are 2 newspapers, a daily one has local and international news, and a visitor/restaurant guide on Saturdays, and a weekly paper with local news. These are available at all local stores.  Other international magazines can be purchased at the stationary, there is one next to the ANZ bank and another next to South Seas International. 

Telecommunications
Provided by Telecom Cook Islands which is on the inland road running by the Cooks Corner, follow the signs.  Open 24 hours, 7 days a week.  There are also cardphones situated around the town.  Pick up a phone card from the post office or at Telecom.   To call your home country, dial (00 countrycode areacode phonenumber).

CyberBooth/Internet Services
Telecom Cook Islands has two cyberbooths at their office in town and one at the Post Office which is available 24 hours/7 days a week.  If you want a short term connection see the lady at the front counter and she will direct you.

Post Office
The post office is on the inland end of the roundabout  (there's only one) in town.  You can pick up postcards from most stores.

Stamps/Phonecard Collections
You can pick up collector stamps from the Philatelic Bureau or the Post Office and phonecards from Telecom Cook Islands.

Airlines
Air New Zealand flies to Rarotonga about 6 times a week from either Tahiti, Fiji or New Zealand. 

Tap Water
The Rarotonga tap water comes from streams in the mountains, so if you are bush walking, do not swim in the water catches.  To be safe it is best if you buy bottled water.

Fresh Fruit, Vegetables & Local Delicacies
Visit the Saturday Morning Market (Punanga Nui). 

Shopping Hours
Major Shops: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8.30am-12.00pm.
Small Shops: Mon - Sat 6am-9/10pm, Sun 6am-9am and 5pm-9pm.

Sunday
There is a irregular bus service on Sunday.  And very few stores are open during the day time, see times above.  The only stores that you'll find open during the day are owned by Seventh Day Adventist people who go to church on Saturday.  Plus, Wigmores Superstore in Vaimaanga reopens at 2pm. 

Swimming
The only places you cannot swim on Rarotonga is in Avarua (town) and Matavera, where the lagoon is short, shallow and rocky.  Apart from the town motels, all other hotels and motels are located next to the good swimming spots.

Homosexuality
Cook Islanders are religious people, so while homosexuality is generally accepted, Cook Islanders don't appreciate public displays.

Crime
There is relatively little crime on Rarotonga as its such a small place and you can't get away with much without the whole island finding out.  However, there have been some thefts, so like you would do in your own country's, protect your valuables and keep them close at hand.

Hitchiking
Most times you will get a lift.

Sunscreen
If you are fair skinned, you may burn if you sunbathe, so use SPF 15+ sunscreen when outside.  The sun is not as harsh as in Australia and NZ where there are Ozone holes in the summer and there are no cases of melanoma (skin cancer).

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