CLIMATE: The Cook Islands are renowned for their pleasant, temperate climate, being sunny most of the year round. The cooler months are June to September, while November to March marks the warmer season, where occasional tropical showers can be expected. The drier months from April to November have an average temperature of about 26°C, whilst the warmer, more humid and damp season runs from December to March. During this season the temperature ranges between 22°C and 28°C. Severe weather is rare and infrequent.
SHOPPING: Avarua township is situated about 10km from Muri. There is a selection of souvenir shops, department stores, supermarkets, bars, cafes and restaurants as well as the essential services such as banks, pharmacies, Post Office and Police Station. If it is pearls you are interested in there are a number of black pearl boutiques and outlets in town and around the island.
MARKET DAY: For an open-air shopping experience, head to the Punanga Nui market located about 1km from centre of town, Saturday mornings from 6am to 12noon for local food, fresh produce, arts and crafts, local jewellery and shows.
TRANSPORTATION: It's easy to get around Rarotonga. You can catch a local bus, or hire a car, scooter or bicycle. Taxis are also available at all hours and it is advisable that you book one to avoid unnecessary delays. Bus fares are $4 one way, return $7, and there are also concession tickets and all day passes available. The quickest bus to town is the anti- clockwise bus which goes past the stop down the road just past the hour. You can wave down the local bus from anywhere.
DRIVING: If wanting to hire a car or scooter, you need to obtain a Cook Islands driver’s licence which can be obtained from the Police Station in Avarua at a cost of NZ$20 on presentation of your own license and passport. If you do not have a motorbike class on your international license you must go through theory and practical test (costs are NZ$5 for theory test and NZ$5 for practical test). You need to have your own bike and helmet for the test and can obtain a temporary licence from the rental outlets to do so. The police station is open from 8am to 3pm on weekdays and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays for licensing requirements.
ROAD SAFETY: 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.
BANKS: There are 3 banks in Rarotonga, all located in the Avarua township - ANZ, Bank of the South Pacific (BSP), and Bank of the Cook Islands. There is a BSP airport branch, which is open for service only upon arrival and departure. There are also ATM services in various locations around Rarotonga including Muri for BSP and ANZ customers. Banking facilities are also provided at the airport for currency exchange and cashing of travellers cheques. They are open for the arrival and departure of all International flights. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island at most shops, and restaurants.
CHURCH SERVICES: You should definitely take the chance to share in this experience if you have the time. The island is scattered with historic limestone churches, which welcome in the congregation at 10am for a service of song and spiritual fellowship. Visitors are always welcome and in accordance with local custom, please dress modestly for the occasion. The closest church to us is the Ngatangiia CICC located about 2km along the main road towards town. The pastor usually welcomes visitors to share in morning tea after the service.
MEDICAL SERVICES: If you need medical attention, it is easily accessible at Rarotonga’s local hospital where there is a range of medical and dental services available 24 hours a day. There are also several General Practitioners on the island who can attend to your non-emergency needs and pharmacies are not hard to find. There is a pharmacy located just down the road at the complex in front of Varas.