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Holidays in Cook Islands

Understanding Cook Islands


Named after Captain Cook, who sighted them in 1770, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888 By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand; in 1965 residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand In effect, New Zealand handles defense, foreign affairs including passports, and currency; otherwise the islands are self-governing This includes immigration, which is strictly controlled -- even for New Zealanders


Many Cook Islanders will tell you how there are more Cook Islanders living in New Zealand and Australia than in the Cook Islands The population of the Cook Islands is less than 15,000 but there are over 50,000 Cook Islanders living in New Zealand, and over 30,000 in Australia Those remaining have often spent time in Auckland, Melbourne or Sydney before returning home


Tropical Rarotonga has average maximum temperatures of around 25C in winter and 29C in summer Rainfall mostly occurs in summer, usually in the form of afternoon storms Moderated by trade winds


The Northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls The Southern Cook Islands consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles where most of the populace lives


Tourism facilities are well developed on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and information is available However you won't see a single tout, and tourist scams are unheard of If you want to organise something, it usually isn't hard to do, but you will need to make the first move

Talking in Cook Islands

Languages: There are five living languages in the Cook Islands with English and Cook Islands Maori the official languages Cook Islands Maori is called Rarotongan after the capital island and is the most widely spoken version of Maori in the Islands Others are Penrhynese - unique to the Northern group island of Penrhyn and rapidly disappearing - and Rakahanga-Manihiki which is spoken by about 2,500 Cook Islanders only half of whom live on the two islands from which it takes its name On the remote Northern group island of Pukapuka, the islanders have a unique language of their own called Pukapukan of which there is no written version It is more like Samoan, and some of it can't even be understood by other Cook Islanders But even there, English is spoken, albeit not widely Children, though, are taught it in school

At the very least, the visitor will quickly learn the usual greeting, "kia orana" which means "may you live long"

What to see in Cook Islands

One of the cultral shows/dancing at one of the larger resorts

Buying stuff in Cook Islands

Black pearls, these can be found in the main town and some resorts


The Cook Islands use the New Zealand Dollar, but also issue their own banknotes and coinage, including the unusual $3 notes and the triangular $2 coins Cook Islands money is only negotiable within the Cook Islands

There are a handful of ATMs in Rarotonga and two on Aitutaki There are no ATM facilities on any of the other islands


Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure Agriculture and tourism provide the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled some investment and growth


Overall, much cheaper than nearby Tahiti, though anything imported will be expensive This especially applies to fuel and to milk There is no fresh milk made on the islands, and the only fresh milk available is air-freighted from New Zealand daily, and costs around $700 Locals generally get by with powdered or UHT milk

Calling home can cost a bundle, due to the need of having a large satellite dish and related equipment on each sparsely populated island Don't expect significant savings by Skype-out or VOIP callback, the rates using these services tend to the most expensive anywhere in the world

Some of the hotels and resorts have Skype connections which can be used for reservations

Food and eating in Cook Islands

Try the islands' ika mata raw tuna with coconut milk, finely chopped vegetables It is delicious!

Drinking in Cook Islands

  • Matutu Brewery Tikioki,Titikaveka, Rarotonga +682 26288 http://wwwmatutubeercom 9AM - 4PM The only local brewery micro in the Cook Islands producing 3 beers a Lager, Pale Ale & a Draught Drop in for a free tour and taste of the local beer

Accommodation in Cook Islands

Most of the outer islands turn off the entire electric system blackout overnight Bring a flashlight torch with batteries

See the individual islands for accommodation listings Rarotonga and Aitutaki is where most of the accommodation is

Working in Cook Islands

Non-residents, even New Zealanders, require work permits The Cook Islands has a problem with people of working age leaving the islands Jobs are generally available in the tourism and hospitality sector

There is also a possibility of volunteer work, in education and care

Cities in Cook Islands

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