26 September 2023

Cook Islands: a ‘glorious collection’ like no other

Start the conversation

By Rama Gaind.

The Cook Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and American Samoa.

Looking for an island getaway like no other? Then, get ready to travel to one of the world’s smallest countries – the Cook Islands.

A self-governing country in ‘free association’ with New Zealand, the Cook Islands are an easy and safe destination comprising 15 islands in the heart of the South Pacific.

Even Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2022 has named the Cook Islands as the coveted number-one country to visit this year!

As of 13 April, Australians can travel to the Cook Islands via Auckland on Air New Zealand, and on Jetstar from 2 June. Air New Zealand’s direct service from Sydney to Rarotonga is expected to recommence later this year.

According to the general manager of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation for Australasia, Graeme West, a journey to the Cook Islands is the ultimate South Pacific experience.

“Cook Islanders are waiting with open arms and big smiles to greet their first Australian visitors in just over two years. Because tourism is the mainstay of our economy, the last two years has caused significant financial hardship for many people. We are looking forward with much anticipation to welcoming Aussies back to our beautiful islands.”

“Our tourism infrastructure is well established and offers a wide range of fantastic choices for accommodation, restaurants and outdoor activities.”

Known for snorkelling, scuba diving and island time, coral reefs ring the island. The spectacular beauty of the lagoons surrounding both Rarotonga and renowned Aitutaki, have to be seen to be believed.

The Cook Islands are a combination of 15 islands and atolls located in the middle of the South Pacific.

They have it all: lagoon cruises, fishing, guided mountain hikes, storytelling cycling tours, buggies, quadbikes or 4WD trips inland — and there’s a lot more.

One of the top places to visit is Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands and the capital (Avarua is the main commercial and administrative centre). Visit Muri and Titikaveka beaches in Rarotonga; take in a Te Vara Nui Village Tour & Cultural Show; a great way to explore Rarotonga’s lush scenery is Cross-Island Hike to Te Rua Manga (The Needle); and one of the best places for snorkelling is at Aroa Marine Reserve. If the beach is not your thing, then visit Rarotonga’s Maire Nui Gardens and discover the Marine and Wildlife Eco Centre.

Tour options will vary according to taste, but popular sites are Aitutaki Lagoon, the highest point on Aitutaki at Mount Maungapu, go on a Tapuaetai (One Foot Island) tour and being onboard the Marlin Queen is the ultimate game fishing experience in Rarotonga. Take the Takitumu Nature Walk, go on a hike on Pa’s Trek, set off on a fishing adventure, 4WD tours will take you off the beaten track or go on a green fingers garden tour.

Travel advisory

Regarded as a ‘glorious collection’ of islands in the South Pacific, the total land area is only 237-square-kilometres which is spread over two-million-square-kilometres of ocean.

While travellers seeking a stunning tropical holiday can now go to this great holiday destination, it is advised that you first take the time to view the travel advisory on entry requirements.

Cook Islands is located between French Polynesia and American Samoa.

Although the Cook Islands boasts a vaccination rate of 97 per cent of the eligible population, health advice is continually changing. There are some requirements that tourists must comply with. All visitors over five years and three months of age (changing to over 16 years of age from 2 May 2022), must be fully vaccinated and provide an official International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate issued by the Australian Government. A supervised Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 24 hours of departure from Auckland to Rarotonga is required and currently must be taken in New Zealand.

However, from 2 May 2022, Australian visitors can take a supervised RAT or PCR test in Australia 48 hours prior to their scheduled flight time from Auckland to Rarotonga. As well, visitors must complete a Cook Islands contact form no more than 96 hours prior to the scheduled departure time from Auckland to the Cook Islands.

Once again, island dreaming becomes reality!


For details on entry requirements to the Cook Islands, visit: www.cookislands.travel

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.