1. History, Geography & Economy
2. Visitor Essentials
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Cook Islands Television
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.
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.
Most major hotels and restaurants accept VISA, Mastercard, American Express and
Diners Club. Both banks can give you cash advances on your credit cards.
Summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) high 29°C, low 22°C, humid
Winter (Jun, Jul, Aug) high 25°C, low 19°C
Note that the hurricane season is from Nov-Apr
Cook Islands Maori, English. Note that everyone speaks English.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
You can buy film from several of the major stores. To develop them visit the
There are two pharmacies, Vans is by the Empire Movie Theater and the CITC pharmacy
is in the town center.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
You can pick up collector stamps from the Philatelic Bureau or the Post Office and
phonecards from Telecom Cook Islands.
Air New Zealand flies to Rarotonga about 6 times a week from either Tahiti, Fiji or
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
Fresh Fruit, Vegetables & Local Delicacies
Visit the Saturday Morning Market (Punanga Nui).
Major Shops: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8.30am-12.00pm.
Small Shops: Mon - Sat 6am-9/10pm, Sun 6am-9am and 5pm-9pm.
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.
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.
Cook Islanders are religious people, so while homosexuality is generally accepted,
Cook Islanders don't appreciate public displays.
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.
Most times you will get a lift.
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).