Travel Tips for the Cook Islands

Some things to keep in mind when traveling to the Cook Islands...

Departure Tax

There is a Departure Tax of NZ$55 for each adult, but children under 12 are exempt. It can be paid at Westpac Bank in Avarua or the International Terminal.


The Cook Islands comprises 15 widely-dispersed islands in the South Pacific Ocean between French Polynesia and Fiji. The total land area of the country is 93 square miles, while the Cook Islands' exclusive economic zone covers a maritime area of nearly 772,204 square miles. The country is broadly divided into Southern and Northern Groups.


The Cook Islands enjoy a pleasantly warm and sunny climate all year round. June to August are the cooler months, whilst November to March marks the warmer season, with occasional tropical showers expected. It is also known as cyclone season – something to be aware of although not necessarily a deterrent as they are not a regular occurrence. The drier months, from April to November, have an average of about 78°F, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 71°F (min) and 86°F (max). Severe weather is rare and infrequent.

Entry Requirements

When you come to the Cook Islands, a valid passport and a return ticket will allow you a stay of up to 31 days, but this is currently under review in order to allow visitors the choice of staying up to six months at a time. In the meantime, extensions are granted on a monthly basis – for up to five months. Remember to apply two weeks before your visa expires.

Tipping Protocol

Tipping is contrary to Cook Island customs.


Cook Islands Maori (or Rarotongan) is the main language, although most people speak English as well.


All vaccinations should be up to date, and typhoid, hepatitis A & B vaccinations are recommended.

Currency & Exchange, Credit Cards, and Banking

While New Zealand dollars are used in the Cook Islands, they do have native currency as well. The 3 dollar bill is a tourist favorite. Cook Islands money, whether coins or notes, cannot be changed anywhere else in the world, so be sure to either spend it or exchange it before you leave the country. ATM’s are conveniently located around Rarotonga and Aitutaki and EFTPOS is available at some hotels and stores. Western Union has an office in Avarua offering money exchange and transfers.


The current bank-to-bank USD/NZD exchange rate is USD100 = NZD Keep in mind this is a bank-to-bank/mercantile rate and is subject to commission and/or exchange rate fees, typically between 1 to 3 percent depending on your bank, credit card company or financial institution. Information and rates here are provided as an indication and guide only and provided without warranty.

Currency data courtesy



Virtually all the people are Christian; 70 percent belong to the Protestant Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC) and 30 percent are Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, or members of other denominations.

Jet Lag

Westbound flights appear to be the worst for jet lag but many people report feelings of jet lag with any long haul flights. To prevent feeling the worse for wear when you arrive at your destination try the following tips: Be well rested before boarding your flight, drink plenty of fluids and cut back on the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, try to exercise by stretching in your seat or strolling the isle. One of the best tips is to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time while in flight. Waiting until you land can leave you literally in the wrong time zone.

What to Pack

T-shirts, sandels, shorts, and bathing suits are pretty much what you'll need. Beach wear is not appropriate in town but dressing is casual.

  • Sunscreen

  • Reef walking shoes

  • Hat

  • Camera

  • Power adapter

  • Mosquito repellent