DID YOU KNOW?
Rarotonga Island is the only international center for arrivals into the Cook Islands. There are weekly flights from Los Angeles, and many weekly flights from Australia and New Zealand. Once on Rarotonga, the flight to Aitutaki is only 40 minutes North by Air Rarotonga. Air Rarotonga is the only Airline to service the Cook Islands locally.
Air New Zealand For reconfirmation of flights: #(+682) 26 300.
Air Rarotonga Rarotonga arrival & departure: #(+682) 22889.
Aitutaki arrival & departure: #(+682) 31888.
Virgin Australia & Jetstar Please contact Air Rarotonga to confirm
information about these flights #(+682) 22888
There are many churches on Aitutaki, the locals put on an amazing performance with their singing. Some churches put out food and refreshments for the tourists after the service. Aitutaki is well known for its hospitality and it really shows after the church services.
Here is a list of some of the denominations of the local Aitutaki churches:
Christian, Protestant, Latter Day Saints, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Baha`i Faith, Apostolic, Assembly of God, Jehovah`s Witness.
Once you arrive on Aitutaki you can check with locals about times and locations of the services.
Post office/BlueSky office: Open 8am-6pm and located next to BSP Bank at the main 4 way junction in town. They have postal service, phone cards, fax and Western Union.
Open Monday to Friday from 8am until 4pm.
When phoning the Cook Islands from other countries dial 682 then the number.
Ranginui's retreat is a Bluesky Wifi Hotspot and we sell Wifi and Top Ups.
Bluesky Wifi is available all over Rarotonga and Aitutaki
Aitutaki gets better weather than Rarotonga, more sun and less rain. Raro, with its large mountains, traps the clouds and produces considerably more precipitation and cloudiness.
Since the Cook Islands and Aitutaki are South of the equator, the seasons are opposite to those of North America and Europe. While there are no extremes in temperatures, the drier cooler season runs from April to November. The warmer, more humid season runs from December to March. Following are the average monthly temperatures (in Fahrenheit and Celsius).
Warmth and sunshine can be enjoyed year-round in the Cook Islands. Severe weather is rare and infrequent, so lightweight clothing is the norm. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea as we do have showers, how else can we keep our plants and jungle looking so lush!
CLUB & SERVICES
Aitutaki is not big on the night club scene, that's why it is so popular for relaxing vacation.
There are a few places one can take in the Aitutaki´s nightlife.
There is a new bar just down from the airport, it is a large open air type place, lots of colorful lights and canned music, the Golf Club. This club only happen on Friday & Saturday nights starting late, 9-10pm.
The Aitutaki sport fishing club is a nice place for a casual drink on the waterfront, directly across from the Aitutaki market on the main pier, they also host several events, check with the locals on arrival.
Of course Island nights are very popular on Aitutaki, here is a link to a activities page for a complete list of times and locations.
There are 4 restaurants located at walking distance from Ranginui´s Retreat.
They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner and even organic food.
Local radio: FM 88
The Cook Islands unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar, supplemented by notes and coinage minted for local use. The unique local coins and notes are not negotiable outside the Cook Islands, but are keenly sought by collectors worldwide. While on Aitutaki you will be able to collect the popular triangle shaped $2 coin along with the $3 bill.
There are two banks on the island, BCI and BSP.
Two of them are located next to the Post office, the BSP bank has an ATM.
BSP is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am until 3pm.
BCI is open from Monday to Friday from 9am until 3pm.
Located inside the Post office at the main 4 way junction.
Open from Monday to Friday from 8am-4pm.
CUSTOMS AND IMPORTS
No duty is levied on clothing or personal effects (including sports equipment).
In addition, each visitor may bring the following items, free of duty, into the Cook Islands:
Tobacco: 250grm of tobacco
2 liters of spirit or wine or 4½ liters of beer.
Goods with total value of up to NZ$250 are not open to duties, however goods in excess of NZ$250 are liable to duty.
Fruits and plants are not allowed into the country.
You are permitted to bring frozen food, canned food and vacuum packed products. These must be declared to Customs on arrival. If not declared, Customs have the right to confiscate any items/products. For more information on this please contact the Quarantine service at the Ministry of Agriculture (phone (+682) 28710 / 21881 or email email@example.com).
DRIVING / ROAD SAFETY
Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road.
The maximum road speed limit is 40kph in the town and villages.
Drivers of all vehicles are required to have a current Cook Islands Drivers License, which can be obtained from the Police Station located behind the Aitutaki market on the waterfront pier, just right at the main 4 way junction, a charge or $2.50NZ applies, you only need to present your own license in order to receive a Cook Islands license, this applies to Aitutaki only.
The Cook Islands asks you to be sensible when on our roads. In many areas, we do not have footpaths so please make sure that you stay on the grassy verges of the roadside. Please do not walk on the road.
At night, please ensure you are visible when walking on the roadside. If possible, take a torch or wear something that will glow in the dark.
When cycling the same rules apply.
Please do not speed on our roads. And remember, never drink and drive.
Voltage is 220 AC/50 cycle, the same as Australia and New Zealand.
In some cases a two pin adaptor may be required.
Northern Hemisphere travelers will need adaptor plugs suited for New Zealand to use dual-voltage appliances, such as hairdryers.
All laptop computers will work on 115 volts or 220 volts so all you need is the 2 pin adapter to plug into the local receptacle.
The main point of entry to The Cook Islands is Rarotonga International Airport.
This is a fully functional airport, operating since 1974, catering to the increased tourist numbers arriving each year.
Stays of up to 31 days require a valid passport and a return ticket. Adequate financial means of supporting stay, and suitable accommodation. Extensions are granted on a monthly basis - up to three additional months only.
A fee is payable with each application within 14 days prior to the expiration of the permit.
Children under 15 years of age are exempt from charges but must report to Immigration for official paperwork to be completed.
For further information contact the Department of Immigration, phone (+6829) 29347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For those wanting to stay in the Cook Islands longer than 6 months, you must apply for a visa from your home territory, prior to their arrival in the Cook Islands.
There is a small hospital on Aitutaki should the need arise.
Aitutaki has an ambulance service as well.
Rarotonga has a larger facility with New Zealand trained doctors.
For any medicines you will have to see a doctor at the local Aitutaki hospital, there are no separate pharmacies on Aitutaki.
Mosquito repellent is essential and we recommend reef shoes to all our visitors.
Hospital - Phone# 31-002 Emergency # 31-698
Aitutaki has no bus system in place.
There is a local taxi - enquire for phone number.
Most visitors rent a scooter to see the island and go shopping etc. Most resorts rent push bikes (normal pedal bikes). The island is mostly flat so push bikes are fine for most people.
Most resorts will meet you at the airport and provide transport to your accommodations.
There is also a passenger bus that meets all flights and will deliver you to your resort for a fee.
Of course Aitutaki gets the more adventurous types that like to walk, most things are within a
3 km or less radius of most resorts.
TAXES & TIPPING
Their is a 15% vat tax on all goods and services in the Cook Islands, most places will include this is the price, some resorts may add it to the cost of the stay.
Tipping is not expected and is contrary to Cook Islands custom. However if you receive excellent service and want to acknowledge it, please feel free to do so.
Geographic coordinates of Aitutaki 18 50S, 159 46W
Wet season, hot months, November - April
Dry season, cooler months May - Oct
Aitutaki population, approx 1500 - 1700.
Official language - English, but most people on Aitutaki speak Maori as well
International dialing code for Aitutaki (682).
This magnificent and remote island has a triangular-shaped 'almost'-atoll rising
up 4000 meters from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It consists of three volcanic and 12 coral islets (motus).
Aitutaki measures just 20 square kilometers
The magnificent lagoon of Aitutaki measures 45 kms in circumference and is
approx 3-25ft deep.
Aitutaki mirror's the coordinates of Hawaii (same Lat & Long in the Southern
hemisphere as Hawaii in the Northern).
COOK ISLANDS HISTORY
An islands group of the southern Pacific Ocean southeast of Samoa. Probably first inhabited by Polynesians more than 1,500 years ago, the Cook islands were sighted by Captain James Cook in 1773. They are now self-governing under the sovereignty of New Zealand.
In 1773, Captain James Cook sighted Manuae atoll which he named Hervey Island. On a later voyage he discovered Palmerston, Takutea, Mangaia, and Atiu.
The Cook Islands are made up of 15 distinct islands, a Northern group and a Southern Group. Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook islands. The islands of the Cook group have a total land area of about 92 sq. miles, scattered over a vast 2 million square kilometer area of South Pacific Ocean.
A former British protectorate, the Cook Islands became a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand on August 4, 1965. This day is now celebrated as Constitution Day.
Population: 18,000 (2004) - Source: United Nations. More than twice as many native Cook Islanders live in New Zealand than live in the islands themselves. As New Zealand citizens, they are free to live in both Australia and New Zealand.
Rarotonga is the international entry point for the Cook Islands. From Rarotonga international airport Cook Islands carrier Air Rarotonga flies to most of the other islands in the group.
There are no snakes and no poisonous insects or animals on the Cook Islands.
THE NATION OF THE COOK ISLANDS
The Cook Islands are comprised of 15 islands spread over 850,000 square miles (2.2 million square kilometers) of ocean smack in the middle of the South Pacific between Tonga to the west and the Society Islands to the east.
The Cook Islands consists of two main groups, one in the north and one in the south. The southern group is nine "high" islands mainly of volcanic origin although some are virtually atolls. The majority of the Cook Islands population lives in the southern group. The northern group comprises six true atolls.
AITUTAKI AND THE COOK ISLANDS
Islands group (pop., 2005 est.: 13,900), southern Pacific Ocean. Located roughly 2,000 mi (3,000 km) northeast of New Zealand, the 15 islands, scattered from north to south over some 900 mi (1,450 km) of ocean, are divided into a southern group of nine islands, including Rarotonga (the seat of government), and a northern group of six. All in the northern group are true atolls; most in the southern group have volcanic interiors. They were probably settled by Polynesians from Tonga and Samoa; there is evidence of a highly organized society c. AD 1100. Capt. James Cook explored many of them during the 1770s. Established as a British protectorate in 1888, they were annexed by New Zealand in 1901. Self-government in free association with New Zealand was achieved in 1965. Aitutaki is considered the vacation island of the Cook Islands.
An Aitutaki Cook Island vacation is the stuff of which dreams are made. This magnificent and remote island has a triangular-shaped 'almost'-atoll rising up 4000 meters from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It consists of three volcanic and 12 coral islets (motus) Aitutaki was probably first settled around 900 AD and one of its great legendary Polynesian Outrigger canoe discoverers was Ru who named it Utataki Enua O Ru Ki Te Moana. Roughly translated, this means The Leading of a Cargo of People by Ru Over the Ocean. It can be inferred that Aitutaki was, therefore, the ultimate destination of one of the great Polynesian ocean voyages. The first recorded discovery by Europeans was Captain Bligh on the "Bounty". He arrived on April 11 1789 and shortly afterwards the famous mutiny occurred. Bligh returned later on July 25 1792. He is credited with introducing the paw paw fruit to Aitutaki Island and this was an important export product from the Cook Islands.
The first missionary to the Cook Islands, John Williams, landed on Aitutaki before any of the other Cook Islands and there is a large, airy coral block church in Arutanga, the main township, which bears testament to his success in converting the people to Christianity.
Life on Aitutaki moves at a wonderfully relaxed tempo which is why it is such a popular destination for visitors who fly in from Rarotonga for day trips as well as extended stays. Akaiami The Aitutaki lagoon can be approached in leisurely fashion in traditional outrigger canoes for quiet paddling just off the beach or in more sophisticated launches favored by foreign anglers who know its reputation for saltwater fly fishing for the fighting bonefish.
The motus which are mainly at the outer perimeter of the lagoon are wonderful landing places for the day cruises available for visitors. The favorite islets are Akaiami and One Foot Island.
The Cook Islands have 11 public holidays. On these days, bus service is either irregular or non existent. The Cook Islands shops are closed. Some little shops are open either in the morning and evening. Many restaurants are closed. If you are holidaying during this time then please make sure you stock up and you arrange transport to cover you over the holidays.
Our holidays are as follows:
New Years Day - 1 Jan
Day after New Years - 2 Jan
ANZAC Day - 25 Apr
Queen's Birthday - 4 Jun
Rarotonga Gospel Day - 25 Jul
Constitution Day - 4 Aug
CI Gospel Day - 26 Oct
Christmas Day - 25 Dec
Boxing Day - 26 Dec
Being stuck without food and transport on any of these days can ruin your holidays. Please note that Sundays are similar to public holidays.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO BRING
This list is for things that you should have, it does not include regular everyday stuff.
1. Sunscreen, a waterproof type would be good for snorkeling.
2. One good wind breaker, does not need to be insulated.
3. One pair long pants, light as possible, (windbreaker style).
4. Personal flashlight, with spare batteries, and wrist tether,
(waterproof is best).
5. Waterproof watch and or alarm clock.
6. 1-3 pairs shorts (preferably synthetic = fast drying).
7. 1-2 pairs long pants (lightweight synthetic = fast drying).
8. Bathing suits.
9. 3 - lightweight shirts, or sun shirts (preferably synthetic) also good for
10. Lightweight long sleeve shirts (for sun & bug protection.) also good for
11. Shoes, 1 water sandals, or wetsuit booties, light pair runners.
12. Sunglasses, polarized is great for around the ocean, a good lanyard
(neck strap) cheap pair of extra sun glasses is a good idea.
13. Extra prescription glasses if you wear them.
14. 1-2 sun hats with chin straps.
15. Bug repellent, 15% deet is great, anymore % deet is not necessary.
16. Camera batteries if your model needs them.
17. Power converter for 220v down to 115v if coming from North America.
18. Any prescription drugs, ( they must be in there prescription container)
Its not recommended to try and bring in any drugs with codeine in them.
19. Feminine napkins and the like.