Cook Islands Basics

Print this Guide Print this Guide | Email this Guide Email this Guide

The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT -10.

Electricity: Electrical current is 240 volts, 50Hz. The three-pin flat blade plug with two slanted pins are used.

Money: The currency of the Cook Islands is either the Cook Islands Dollar, which is divided into 100 cents, or the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), which is also divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency exchange is available at the airport and two banks in Avarua. ATMs are also available in Avarua and are slowly becoming more widespread. American Express, Visa and MasterCard are accepted at restaurants and hotels in the main towns, and major foreign currencies can be exchanged at larger shops and hotels. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm.

Currency Exchange Rates

NZD1.00 = USD 0.63GBP 0.49CAD 0.83AUD 0.93ZAR 9.25EUR 0.57NZD 1.00
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Cook Island Maori is widely spoken by locals, but English is in common use.

Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals must have a passport valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals must have a passport valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals must have a passport valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals must have a passport valid for seven days beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals must have a passport valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals must have a passport valid for seven days beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals must have a passport valid for six months beyond period of intended stay. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 31 days. Passengers who want to stay over 31 days can obtain an Entry Permit on arrival.

Passport/Visa Note: Proof of onward passage, adequate financial means to support the stay, and proof of confirmed accommodation are required on entry into the Cook Islands. We recommend that passports be valid for six months beyond intended period of travel. Visa extensions are possible.

Travel Health: There is little risk of disease on the Cook Islands, but visitors should take precautions against insect bites and sunburn. Outbreaks of dengue fever can occur so a good arsenal of mosquito repellent and protective clothing is advised. Although no vaccinations are required, one or two may be recommended by your doctor as a precaution: vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are sometimes recommended while a typhoid vaccination may also be required. Locals consider the tap water safe, but boiled or bottled water is advised for visitors, particularly in rural areas. A range of medical and dental services are available on Rarotonga, including a hospital and various pharmacies, but medical facilities in the Cook Islands in general are limited and comprehensive travel insurance is advised to include air evacuation for emergencies. If you require medication during your stay in the Cook Islands, it is best to take it with you. Make sure you have the necessary documents from your doctor to get the medication through customs.

Tipping: Tipping is not expected and is contrary to Cook Islands custom.

Safety Information: Visits to the Cook Islands are usually trouble-free. There is relatively little crime, but it is always advisable to protect your valuables.

Local Customs: Inhabitants of the Cook Islands are very religious and frown upon inappropriate dress. Beachwear should not be worn in town, and topless sunbathing is not acceptable behaviour.

Business: The main business centre is Avarua on Rarotonga Island. The business environment in the Cook Islands is fairly casual and relaxed. However, punctuality is important and dress should be modest, particularly for women. Meetings will be conducted in English when foreigners are present, although islanders may speak to one another in Maori to clarify their understanding during proceedings. It is not meant as an offence. Meetings usually begin and end with a prayer. Business hours are generally 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Communications: The country code for the Cook Islands is +682. In the main town of Avarua, there is a telecommunications office, Telecom Cook Islands, offering international telephone, fax, email, internet connections, and other services.

Duty Free: The following goods may accompany travellers over 18 years to the Cook Islands: 2 litres of alcoholic beverage or 4.5 litres of beer, and 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 1kg of tobacco. No firearms, cartridges or cartridge cases, gunpowder, bullets, and other forms of ammunition are allowed without prior permission from the Minister of Police.