Cook Islands Cook Islands - Image courtesy of Kirklandphotos

Key facts about the Cook Islands

Location Forming part of Polynesia, the 15 Cook Islands are scattered across 2 million sq km of the South Pacific, 3,500km northeast of New Zealand and 1,000km southwest of Tahiti.

Area 237sq km   

Population 21,000

Capital Avarua (population 9,000), located on the island of Rarotonga.

Climate The Cook Islands has a pleasant year-round climate, although it can rain quite often. Seasonal variations are slight: Summer from November to April is warm – temperatures range between 23°C and 29°C (73°F – 84°F); winter from May to October is slightly cooler – 21°C to 28°C (70°F – 82°F); and the hot and humid wet season from December to March – averages 29°C (84°F).

Time Zone Australian East Coast -20 hours

Currency New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

Electricity 240 volts, 50hz. Australian-style three-pin plugs.

Tipping Not encouraged. Instead, tip with a smile and say meitake me’ata (thank you).

Language Cook Island Maori and English

Useful phrases Try these Cook Islands Maori phrases: Kia orana – Hello; Meitaki – Thank you’; Popongi – Good morning; Ra manea – Have a nice day; ‘Ae – yes; Kare – No; Ka ‘Ura taua – Let's dance; ‘Aere ra– Good-by

Local etiquette Visitors are requested not to offend local sensibilities. Topless sunbathing is an offence. Swimwear should only be worn on the beaches and if visiting a church dress conservatively.

Tip Hats and sunscreen are a must and sneakers or sandals are advisable for walking and swimming around coral. If you cut yourself on coral pour lemon or lime juice over the wound to relieve the pain, or use hydrogen peroxide.

Fact Rarotonga is only 32km in circumference – it takes about one hour to drive right around the island.

Did you know? Although first discovered by Captain William Bligh in 1789 (just days before the infamous mutiny aboard HMS Bounty), the Cook Islands are named in honour of explorer Captain James Cook.

Latest update: Cook Islands Key Facts: 18 November, 2018

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