Remember ten years ago when All Black Zac Guildford — buck naked
and drunk — walked up to two tourists in a bar in Muri Beach, Rarotonga, and punched them?
Truly, the Cook Islands are a place to let loose and feel confident to do
whatever you want — ride scooters between palm-fringed beaches;
snorkel with tropical fish; get liquored up and attack strangers.
In all seriousness, the islands mostly reopened for visitors on January 13
2022 and you’re probably wondering if you can head there without hassle.
The good news is, yes. It’s close, it only costs a few hundred bucks to fly
there and it’s open for business, so let’s cover some of your Frequently
Asked Questions before you book your flights:
What fun stuff is there to do?
• Enjoy food and fire dancing at the Highland Paradise Cultural Show
• Go snorkelling at Aroa Beach
• Hang out at the Punanga Nui Morning Markets
• Go scuba diving in various shipwrecks which have become home to white tip reef sharks and tropical fish
• Tackle the Cross Island Trek to Te Rua Manga mountain (The Needle)
• Rent a scooter or car and drive Rarotonga’s ring road
• Play for the All Blacks, become an alcoholic, strip naked, attack
random strangers at Sails Restaurant, Muri Beach
How long does it take to get there?
3 hours, 45 minutes by plane from Auckland
Is it true I lose a day travelling there?
Yeah, the flight crosses the international dateline, so when you’re planning a trip to the Cooks remember you’ll arrive the day before you depart, and when you fly back to NZ, you’ll lose a day.
What if I want to avoid getting punched by naked Zac Guildford?
Can I fly into somewhere other than the capital Avarua?
Aitutaki is a 50-minute domestic flight away from Avarua’s airport.
When you’re booking with Air New Zealand, select ‘Cook Is (Aitutaki)’ and
they’ll book you all the way, though you do have to touch down in Avarua.
Can I really scooter all the way around Rarotonga?
Yeah, Rarotonga is almost circular and it has a road that runs right around the perimeter, making it easy to find wherever you’re going. Public
transport buses drive the circuit clockwise and anticlockwise, or you
can hire a car, scooter or push bike to get around. It takes 45 minutes to do
Can I get there on just my Kiwi passport?
Yup. They’ll give you a permit at the border and you can stay 90 days.
Do I have to learn the Cook Islands Māori language?
No, you lazy bastard. English is widely spoken on the island of Rarotonga.
When is it cold there?
Same as New Zealand — June to August, it’s a fraction colder. But not
Is it true I can bust out my Kiwi dollars?
The Cook Islands unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar, supplemented by local coins. The unique local coins and notes are not legal tender outside of the Cook Islands, so it’s pointless bringing much money home.
Can I drink tap water in the Cook Islands?
No, sorry. Boil your water or buy bottled water, bro.
But what about all that COVID-19 shit? Is it really that easy to travel?
Yes and no. Here’s everything you need to know.
• Two-way quarantine-free travel from New Zealand recommenced
on 13 January 2022 – with no quarantine or isolation at either end of the trip BUT you mostly had to enter the Cook Islands with proof of a recently clear RAT test
• From 1 May, pre-departure testing for international arrivals into the Cook Islands was removed, and the best source of information as to whether
you have to provide proof you’re covid-free is at https://cookislands.travel/entry
• From 2 June, Jetstar recommenced flights to the Cook Islands via Auckland.
Enjoy your stay… and watch out
for drunken All Blacks.