Cook Islands Getting around by water taxi - Image courtesy of Daniel Pietzsch/flickr.com

How to get around the Cook Islands

Getting around the Cook Islands is relatively easy, with a choice of transport options on all the islands.

Taxis and hire cars are available – 4WDs and motorcycles are best to reach out-of-the-ways spots – and all the islands are good for cycling.

Traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road. Speed limits are 30-40kph (19-25mph) in built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) elsewhere.


Transport options in the Cook Islands

Air: The country's only domestic airline, Air Rarotonga (tel. 22-888; www.airraro.com), connects the main island of Rarotonga with the islands of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mauke, Mangaia, Manihiki, Mitiaro and Penrhyn.

The airline offers several daily flights to Aitutaki, plus several weekly flights between Rarotonga and the southern group of islands.


Sea: Boats frequently ply the waters between the southern group of islands, though schedules can be unpredictable, especially to and between the more remote northern islands.

Local tour operators offer lagoon and island cruises on water taxis.


On land

Car hire: Car hire is available at the airport and in Rarotonga from Budget and Avis as well as local providers, including Polynesian Rentals Limited (+682-29-227).

You can also rent mopeds, motorcycles, bikes, and scooters to get around.

Local hotels often offer pick-up and transfer services for their guests and occasionally offer hire vehicles.

Drivers need to be at least 16 years of age and have held a valid driver licence from their home country for at least one year.

If you plan on hiring a scooter or motorbike and do not have a full motorcycle class on your licence, you must first obtain a Visitor’s Licence.

A motorcycle driving test must be conducted at the Cook Islands Police Station in downtown Avarua. Licences are usually valid for a year. A Visitors Drivers License costs NZD20.00, plus a further NZD20.00 for the theory exam and practical driving test.

Helmets are compulsory in Rarotonga only for visitors using a motorcycle.

Taxi: Bright green licenced taxis are available 24/7 on Raratonga.

Bike: Bikes are available for hire, and with a round trip of Rarotonga only 32km (19.8mi), cycling is a great way to experience the island. Guided mountain bike tours are also available.

Bus: Cook's Passenger Transport (www.busaboutraro.com) operates a regular bus service around Rarotonga.

Buses depart hourly from Cook’s Corner shopping centre in Avarua on Rarotonga daily, and offer a clockwise and counter-clockwise trip around the island.

Buses can be flagged anywhere and everyday except Sunday. The journey takes an average of 55 minutes. There are no buses on Saturday afternoons or early Sunday mornings and late evenings.


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Latest update: How to get around the Cook Islands: 13 June, 2020


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