Cook Islands

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WorldPacific OceanSouth PacificCook Islands
Cook Islands
21°14.000'S, 159°46.000'W Chart icon.png
Cook Islands map.png
Cook Islands
Cook Islands flag.png
Capital Avarua
Language English, Cook Islands Māori
Currency New Zealand Dollar (NZD) & Cook Islands Dollar
Time zone CKT (UTC-10)
Calling code +682

The Cook Islands are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. The fifteen small islands in this South Pacific Ocean country have a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq mi), but the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1.8 million square kilometres (0.7 million sq mi) of ocean.

The Cook Islands are in the South Pacific Ocean, north-east of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and Fiji. There are fifteen major islands, spread over 2.2 million square kilometres of ocean, divided into two distinct groups: the Southern Cook Islands, and the Northern Cook Islands of coral atolls.

The islands were formed by volcanic activity; the northern group is older and consists of six atolls (sunken volcanoes topped by coral growth).


Land Information NZ
NZ93 Cook Islands (1:1500000)

Topographic maps are also available for download.

British Admiralty
BA 979 - Central Pacific ocean – islands between 160° East and 150° West longitude


The climate is generally warm (not too hot) during the cruising season. The Southern Cook Islands, for example Rarotonga have a cooler and drier climate than places further north in the tropics, for example Suwarrow or the Society Islands of French Polynesia. In the Northern Cook Islands the climate is similar to the Society Islands. The rainy season (and cyclone season) is from December to March. April to November are the winter months and the SE trade winds prevail - sudden squalls from various directions can occur during this period.

Weather links


Typically the Cook Islands are the next stop after French Polynesia, with Bora Bora being the most useful jump-off point for a transit to either the northern or southern Cook Islands. Typical transit time from Bora Bora to either Rarotonga or Suwarrow is about 4 days.

Next stops along the route from the Cook Islands are typically Samoa, Tonga, or Niue, or possibly directly to Fiji.

Suggested Circuit/Route Through the Group

There are three options for travelling through the Cook Islands:

Rarotonga is a useful first stop because it is the main centre for the Cook Islands, and provisions can be hard to find in the outer islands. Whether you stop at the outer islands, in particular Palmerston and Aitutaki can depend on wind direction and draft -- see the notes on the pages for those islands.


Add here VHF channel for coastguard, harbor masters. etc.

There are no radio nets specific to the Cook Islands.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets


See the notes specific to each island.



On arrival (at a port of entry) the skipper must present the following:

  • All passports
  • A clearance certificate from the last port
  • A detailed crew list
  • Ship's papers and details of the yacht.

The vessel will undergo a quarantine and health inspection.

Prior permission must be obtained from Customs and Immigration to visit any islands in the group that are not listed as ports of entry. When visiting these "other" islands you must report to the local Administrator, if present, on arrival.


  • Special permission must be obtained BEFORE visiting Suwarrow National Park.
  • Cruising yachts are not allowed to remain in the Cook Islands during the cyclone season (December to March), and transiting yachts may not even be allowed to overnight in a port during this period.

For further local maritime information contact: The Harbour Master, Ports Authority, PO Box 84, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Ph:+682 28814, Fax:+682 21191. Email



Customs and Immigration


  • All firearms and ammunition MUST be declared on arrival and will be held in custody until your departure.
  • Any fruit or plants will be confiscated. Canned foods will be accepted and possibly frozen and vacuum packed products, after declaration and inspection by Customs. (Note: Good local fruit and produce is available)
  • PETS: Only pets from rabies-free countries will be admitted to the Cook Islands (Australia, New Zealand and Fiji). There are no quarantine facilities on the Islands and no Veterinarian. An Import Permit can be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and must include - a declaration of where the pet has been for the previous 3 months and that it has not been in contact with any animal suffering from an infectious or contagious disease. Dogs must have been treated wih Praziquantel (Droncit) within 7 days of leaving Australia, New Zealand or Fiji and with Pyrantel Pamoate (Cannex) not more than 48 hours before the scheduled date of departure from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. A valid Health certificate must state that the pet has been examined within 48 hours of travel and found to be free from clinical signs of infectious and contagious disease and external parasites. For further information contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Cook Islands. Email
  • Alcoholic beverages contained on board as ships stores must be declared on the customs form when entering the country, and must be kept on board until departure.
  • Vessel searches by customs officers including sniffer dogs occasionally occur in Rarotonga.


A permit for up to 31 days will be issued on arrival (at a port of entry). For extensions, application must be made at Immigration in Rarotonga who can issue additional 30 day permits on a month to month basis with a maximum of an additional 5 months. Application must be made 14 days before expiry of current permits.

It is possible to stay longer than 6 months by prior application from your home country (before arrival in the Cook Islands). Application must be made to:

The Principal Immigration Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, PO Box 105, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Ph: +682 29347, Fax: +682 21247, Email

Fees and Charges


Health and Security


Try not to eat snappers, they may give you ciguatera. Mosquitos are mostly a nuisance, though every few years there is a dengue fever outbreak in the wet season. No malaria, or other serious tropical diseases to worry about, (but do take dengue fever seriously during outbreaks).


The Cook Islands have a very low crime rate. Security is not an issue.


Islands, Ports, & Anchorages

Key to symbols: |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||
Northern Group Southern Group
Manihiki Manihiki /wiki/Manihiki Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |
Tauhunu AnchorageTauhunu Anchorage/wiki/Manihiki Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Penrhyn Penrhyn /wiki/Penrhyn Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |
S of Taruia passageS of Taruia passage/wiki/Penrhyn Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Te TautaTe Tauta/wiki/Penrhyn Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Pukapuka Pukapuka /wiki/Pukapuka Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Needs data icon – needs data |
Suwarrow Suwarrow /wiki/Suwarrow Island icon – island |
Anchorage IslandAnchorage Island/wiki/Suwarrow Anchorage icon – anchorage |
AitutakiAitutaki/wiki/Aitutaki Island icon – island |
ArutangaArutanga/wiki/Aitutaki Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |
Arutanga AnchorageArutanga Anchorage/wiki/Aitutaki Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Passage entrancePassage entrance/wiki/Aitutaki Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Atiu Island Atiu Island /wiki/Atiu_Island Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data |
Palmerston Palmerston /wiki/Palmerston Island icon – island |
Palmerston AnchoragePalmerston Anchorage/wiki/Palmerston Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Rarotonga Rarotonga /wiki/Rarotonga Island icon – island |
AvatiuAvatiu/wiki/Rarotonga Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |
AvanaAvana/wiki/Rarotonga Anchorage icon – anchorage |


Transportation to mainland or other countries, etc.

  • Rarotonga has an international airport, where Air New Zealand offer daily flights to New Zealand and one weekly service to Sydney and one to Los Angeles. Other carriers may be found offering flights to New Caledonia or Tahiti
  • Internal domestic flights are also found from the same airport, Air Rarotonga offers a regular domestic service to Aitutaki and some (expensive, charter) flights to the outer islands
  • Rarotonga and Aitutaki are regular boats stops for cruises operating from Tahiti


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



There are a number of publications covering the Cook Islands, mostly aimed at the tourist market. Here is a selection:

  • Cook Islands Visitor Map
  • Cook Islands Sun, tourist newspaper, published approximately every 6 months.
  • Escape, Magazine of the Cook Islands, published approximately monthly.

All of the above are available for free in the tourist information office in Avarua, Rarotonga.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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Names: Delatbabel

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