Moving to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Everything you need to know! (2023)

Call us bias, but we reckon moving to Rarotonga is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made! It’s exciting, it’s different and moving from New Zealand it’s not actually all that far away…

If you are ready to embrace all that embodies the island lifestyle and the beautiful culture of the Cook Islands, then moving to Rarotonga is about to be one of the best decisions you will make too.

There are challenges that come with adapting to this kind of life (we call that ‘paradise tax’!). But if you can toss aside those expectations that life here will be the same as at home (just more tropical) and get ready for an entirely new adventure – you are going to fit right in…

So welcome newcomer! Here’s everything you need to know about moving to Rarotonga.

Moving to the Cook Islands

  • Culture
  • Language
  • Climate
  • Currency
  • Banking and insurance
  • What to wear
  • Accommodation in Rarotonga
  • Finding a house
  • Power and gas
  • Furniture and furnishings
  • Food
  • Cost of groceries
  • Drinking water
  • Transport
    Buying a car
    Buying a motorbike
  • Healthcare
  • Internet and communications
  • Moving to Rarotonga as a family
  • What you might need
  • What you don’t need

Note: These are our experiences and observations after moving to Rarotonga ourselves. (Essentially, these are all the tips we would tell a friend!). Definitely do your research; and feel free to ask any questions, leave a comment or update us on anything more to add!

About the Cook Islands, quickly

  • Capital:Avarua, Rarotonga
  • International Airport:Rarotonga is the only island with an international airport
  • Population:17,800
  • Language:Cook Island Maori, English
  • Currency:NZD
  • Driving side: Left
  • Religion:Majority Christian

The Cook Islands is made up of 15major islands spread over 2,200,000km2of South Pacific ocean. The islands are divided into two distinct groups: the Southern Cook Islands and the Northern Cook Islands.

Visas for Rarotonga

As long as you’re staying no more than 31 days (90 days if you’re a New Zealand citizen) your valid passport is the only entry permit you need, along with proof of onward journey.

It is possible to stay for up to five months more as a tourist visitor. New Zealanders can apply for a three month extension and other nationals for a month at a time, but you’ll need to extend your entry permit– at the Department of Immigration in Avarua.In both cases, there is a fee for the privilege.

To live and work in the Cook Islands you will require an entry permit with permission to work. To satisfy criteria to obtain a work permit you must be sponsored by a person or organisation in the Cook Islands agreeing to your employment.

Details for a work permit here.

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Cook Islands culture is an interesting mix of Polynesian heritage and European influences with a unique identity, customs and traditions!

Cook Islanders are friendly and welcoming, and the lifestyle is happy with the laid back vibes of Polynesia.

Cultural practices

Celebrations are a big part of both life and death in the Cook Islands. Cook Islanders very proudly carry forward many celebratory and customary traditions.It is helpful to know about these ahead of moving to Rarotonga as there are likely expectations within your workplace that you support and contribute in some way to these events too.

Celebrations include:

  • Funerals
  • Headstone unveilings
  • Hair cutting ceremonies
  • Family reunions
  • Investiture of traditional titles
  • Birthdays
  • Sports events

Collections are common practice within a workplace.Depending on the circumstance, in the lead up to these events, an envelope will be passed around to give a koha or gift of money to the associated family.(This could be a collection for an upcoming haircutting ceremony or a collection for the family of someone who has passed away).And more often than not, the donation of money is labelled with the name and amount donated so the recipient is aware of the donor. (Just a heads up!).

But money aside, food is the biggest part of any celebration in the Cook Islands.It’s an amazing part of the culture to experience and one that can only truly be appreciated firsthand!

For regular meetings or minor celebrations within your workplace, it is often expected to bring a plate of food to contribute.

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The official languages are Cook Island Maori and English. New Zealanders who speak te reo will have an advantage.

Some useful phrases in Cook Islands Maori:

  • Hello:Kia Orana
  • Good morning:Popongi
  • Goodbye:Aere ra
  • Thank you:Meitaki
  • Thank you very much:Meitaki ma’ata
  • Yes:Ae
  • No:Kare
  • How are you?Pe’ea koe?
  • My name is _____:Ko _____ toku ingoa.
  • How much is this?E a’a te moni i teia?

Weather and climate

The Cook Islands enjoys a warm and pleasant, sunny climate all year round!The year is not divided into four seasons; rather the drier months are from April to November with an average temperature of 26°C.And November to March marks the warmer season, with slightly higher humidity and temperature ranges between 22°C (min) and 30°C (max).Average summer temperature isa comfortable 29°C.

There is occasional rainfall between December and March. However, don’t be put off by rainfall in these summer months as it’s typically brief and in the true style of ‘tropical showers’ it does not last for long.

Whale watching seasons is from July to October when humpback whales can often be seen from the Rarotonga foreshore(!).

Extreme weather warnings

November to March is the cyclone (hurricane) season. Although cyclones are not common in the Cook Islands (there were three back to back in 2005) there can be Cyclone Warnings during the season as well as warnings for high winds. Keep up to date with weather forecasts and do be aware of other cyclone warnings happening in the South Pacific and beyond.

Tsunami Warnings are also a possibility in Rarotonga.In March 2021 there was a tsunami warning following an earthquake off the northern coast of New Zealand.

(Video) Rarotonga Holiday Tips — 12 Things To Do In Paradise! | Cook Islands Ep. 1 of 7

Do take it seriously. (Don’t be that guy that goes down to the beach to take a photo).

If in doubt, ask a local and talk to your neighbours.

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Useful weather and news websites in the Cook Islands:


The Cook Islands uses the same currency as New Zealand. However, there are some coins in circulation that are specific to the Cook Islands and cannot be changed anywhere else in the world.

Note:The Cook Islands is still a largely cash-based society!Convenience stores and supermarkets accept EFTPOS transactions but you will need cash for most other payments: markets, roadside stalls, collections at work, as well as some cafés and restaurants that only accept cash.


There are three main banks in the Cook Islands: ANZ, BSP and BCI. Each bank has a main branch in Avarua. There are ATMs around Rarotonga and Aitutaki and EFTPOS in some hotels and shops.

Withdrawing money from your New Zealand debit or credit card is easy and can be done at any ATM.Note that a withdrawal is charged at $5.50 NZD from BSP and ANZ charges $7 NZD.

If you have a KiwiBank account there is no charge to withdraw from a BCI ATM in Avarua.

[As a side note; automatic payments within the Cook Islands seem to have a charge per transaction.We tried to set up an automatic payment for our motorbike and were alerted that it would cost $2.50 per payment!].

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Transferring funds overseas

In Avarua there is Western Union branch on the main road in town.This is particularly busy in the lead up to holidays and Christmas time.

Making a transfer from a New Zealand bank account to a Cook Island bank account costs around $15 – 25 NZD per transaction (depending on your bank).

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Tower Insurance or FPI Insurance in Avarua can authorize insurance for vehicles and contents.The cost will be directly specific to your location and the amount you want to insure. Pop in and see Tower Insurance on the First Floor, BCI Building or FPI atFederalPacific House in town.

What to wear

Get yourself a pareuas soon as you arrive!Traditional island dress for both men and women is a wrap-around piece of material called‘pareu‘. This is worn casually at home or tied specifically for more formal occasions.Pareu also refers to modern island-wear, in the form of beautifully coloured dresses and brightly patterned island shirts.

Modesty is highly valued in Cook Islands culture.Swimwear or skimpy clothing is not suitable to be worn in town or villages. (And if you are sunbathing on a family beach be prepared in case one of the Mama’s chases you away with a kikau broom!).Be considerate; what you wear (or lack of) can be considered offensive.

If you are attending church or a formal event, women should wear a dress or skirt, and men should wear a collared shirt and long trousers.

Pro tip: Don’t panic about finding island wear at home to bring with you! (Seriously, don’t bring too many clothes).There is a great selection of island wear made on the island as well as local shops that stock island style clothing at an affordable price.

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Where to buy island wear

  • Tuki’s Pareu:Ara Tapu, Avarua
  • Mareko Island Creations: Avarua (@shopmareko)
  • CITC Shopping Centre: Avarua

There are two second hand shops that stock all kinds of clothing including island wear. This is often a good choice to start with as expats leaving the island will donate their well-madepareudresses and shirts they won’t likely wear back home.

There are also tailors on the island. (Trust me, getting a uniform made is a regular practice for sports clubs, church groups, schools and pretty much any social group event you might be going to!). The local tailors on the island can make anything you want to a pattern or by measurements.

Fabric can be bought at Vonnia’s (Avarua and West) and Tuki’s Pareu in Avarua and is priced around $8 – 10 per metre.

Costs to have items made at a tailor range from:

  • Basic top: $30-40
  • Simple dress: $50 – 60
  • Men’s island shirt: $35 – 45
  • Child dress/shirt: $30 – 40

Don’t bring too much!

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Houses in Rarotonga

The majority of island accommodation available for longterm rental is basic, furnished accommodation.

Houses will likely have access to phone, internet, local convenience stores, a nearby bus stop and 24-hour power.(Power outages occur occasionally).

Most houses are made from a concrete base with block walls or a synthetic cladding.There is no insulation as it is simply not needed.There is normally an outside living space either on decking or under the shelter of an extended carport roof.

It can be worth checking if the windows have screens formosquitos(read more below) and if the water heating is gas or solar.

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The cost of a renting a house in Rarotonga

  • 4 bedroom house with A/C, garage, swimming pool: $500 – 700 p/w
  • 3 bedroom house with A/C and pool: $400 – 600 p/w
  • 3 bedroom house with carport: $300 – $400 p/w
  • 2 bedroom house: $250 – $350 p/w
  • Beachfront studio: $250 p/w
  • Studio with kitchenette: $150 p/w

Finding a place to live in Rarotonga

Mosthouses in Rarotonga don’t have an address.

Rather, your address will be “next to the convenience store”; “by the sign for ‘Fresh Fish’ in Tupapa” or “just opposite Aunty Vi’s market”.

(Video) COOK ISLANDS: We’re moving to Rarotonga!

It’s true! And not only that…

Nothing on the island is taller than a coconut tree.

You quickly get used to explaining your address to locals once you are here(!) but the real challenge of finding a place to live in Rarotonga likely starts before you arrive.

The good news is there are several Facebook pages to use that will help you find the right house to make home.

When looking at a map of of Rarotonga, the general shape of the island is almost roughly square.This helps in a geographical sense to understand how the districts of the island are laid out, and which area will be most suitable (or closest to work) for you to live on.

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The north side of the island is where the main town of Avarua is.This northern coast of the island is beautiful and rugged to look at with breathtaking views of the mountains as well. The line of the reef is closest to the shore on this side and so it is not ideal for swimming.

Well-known Muri Lagoon is on the east side of the island.The Muri area is quite a large settlement and the most high-density tourist area when the season is right.

The south of the island is a quiet option without the draw of a large commercial or touristic base.It has beautiful beaches and a large lagoon that is great for swimming.

Arorangi and the western side of the island are best known for iconic island sunsets and postcard swimming beaches (part of the reason we’ve chosen this side!).

Useful Facebook pages to join:

Power and gas

Houses will likely have gas facilities for cooking.Gas bottles can easily be swapped at most village petrol stations or the main Toa Gas in Avarua.The cost to swap a bottle is $35.

Some houses will have solar panels for water heating which will reduce the cost of monthly power.This is worth factoring in to your decision on which house is right for you.(Our house has solar heating for the water and gas for cooking.The monthly power bill is around $60 NZD).

The Cook Islands has the same electrical plug socket and voltage as New Zealand.


Waste management is a serious problem in the Cook Islands.This is due to land scarcity, the proximity of the residential and commercial property to the ocean, and the small economic base on the island.

The best way to support the management of rubbish in Rarotonga is to really consider what you bring to the country in the first place, and your choices for purchase and generation of waste while you are here.

Rubbish is collected weekly from residential areas around Rarotonga.Different districts have an assigned rubbish collection day.

  • Monday –Paringaru, Ngatangiia to Matavera
  • Tuesday –Paringaru, Ngatangiia West to Vaimaanga
  • Wednesday –Rutaki North to Inave Rd, Ruaau Arerenga South
  • Thursday –Ruaau-Arerenga North to Nikao Panama
  • Friday –Avatiu East to Takuvaine, on to Atupa
  • Saturday –Tupapa Maraerenga

Household recycling is also collected on the same day.

Food in Rarotonga

Most common goods and services are readily available on Rarotonga.Prices range from similar to slightly higher than in New Zealand.

Because of the size of the island a huge majority of the food is imported from New Zealand.Thus, the price of imported food is inflated to account for transport, shipping, handling and location.

However, the good news is that there is also plenty of local produce available.The main market in town stocks fruit and vegetables and is open daily. (Note: The main day for the market is Saturday, although there are some fruit and vegetable stalls that are open daily at the market).And each village has small public market stands that sell coconuts and fresh produce. (You won’t get far around the island before spotting these and if you are moving to Rarotonga permanently, you will soon get to know your friendly local market vendor).

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Price of food

For a rough idea of supermarket food prices, here are some of the items with a price in NZD:

  • Milk (1L Anchor UHT): $2.90
  • Loaf of sliced bread: $4.90
  • Drinking coconut: $3
  • Beer (can): $3.50
  • Wine (bottle): $18
  • Cheese (250gm Colby): $7.50
  • Yoghurt (1kg Easiyo): $16.70
  • Coffee (instant; Nescafe Gold 100g): $9.90
  • Flour (1kg): $4.30
  • Rice (1kg): $5.50
  • Eggs (dozen): $8.50
  • Baked beans (can): $3.60
  • Weetbix (large box): $10.20
  • Toilet paper (12 pack): $10.60
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There are four main supermarkets on the island with the largest being the CITC Supermarket in Avatiu.

  • Avatiu:CITC
  • Vaimaanga:Wigmores Supermarket (24 hours)
  • Avarua:Foodlands
  • Avarua:Prime Foods (more of a meat wholesaler)
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Wigmores Supermarket in Vaimaanga stocks the biggest range of organic, vegan and imported fresh dairy and dairy-alternative products. (I am pretty sure it’s the only shop on the island that stocks fresh milk from New Zealand!).

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There are five medium sized minimarket/convenience stores around the island where you can pretty much get whatever you need.These shops are open 6:00am – 9:00pm and stock a range of fresh produce, cooked food, alcohol, bread, tinned food, toiletries and household items.

  • Tupapa:Super Brown (24 hours)
  • Matavera:KAPS Store
  • Kavera:CITC
  • Nikao:Super Brown (24 hours)
  • Oasis:Nikao (24 hours)
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Most of the villages right around Rarotonga also have a local convenience store.These can be small private stores, part of the ‘Woo’ chain or the bright green ‘Tex Mart’ shops.

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Drinking water

Rarotonga currently has a gravity-fed water distribution system.There are 12 main intakes around the island from streams and freshwater sources that is collected and fed into storage tanks or directly into the water infrastructure.Like most of the islands in the pacific, the water in Rarotonga is not chemically treated.Thus, the majority of tap water in houses in Rarotonga is not safe for drinking as the bacteria has not been filtered.

However, Rarotonga has a great system of drinking water stations in the local villages around the island.There are about 48 ‘water stations’ in total.

(Video) MOVING TO THE COOK ISLANDS: Settling into life in Rarotonga

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These are essentially a table and water tap system with one or two filtered drinking water taps.All you need is to bring a container to collect your water in.

Vaimais a water company located on the backroad in Nikao, Avarua.They have a large warehouse that stocks water containers, coolers and dispensers.And they also sterilize and refill the water containers at a charge.

The original 15L water bottle costs $36 and is supplied full.

  • 15L plastic water bottle:$36 (including a first fill)
  • Non-drip tap dispenser:$16
  • Metal stand:$42
  • Refills of Vaima water:$6

We purchased a 15L container with dispenser and metal stand and refill the container at the local water stations.Every few refills we take the container toVaimaand pay $6 so the bottle can be hygienically washed and refilled.

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Furniture and furnishings

You will find in planning your move to Rarotonga that most houses available for longterm rent are furnished.

What furnishings are likely in a ‘furnished house’?

Furnishings can include bedding, towels, cutlery, crockery, tv and whiteware.However, storage options in a family sized house are likely limited and you may need to consider alternative options for purchasing new or used furniture for storage.

Furniture stores on Rarotonga:

  • CITC Shopping Centre:Homeware, bedding, curtains and some furniture
  • Home and Living (by Vonnia’s):Bedding, towels, bedroom furniture
  • The Furniture Centre:Couches, desks, drawers, cupboards, beds
  • Next Shipment: Amazing service and online store with prices as listed (and the closest to NZ furnitureprices on the island!)
  • CITC Building Centre: The closest CITC to Bunnings in NZ.

Furniture prices:

There is obviously a wide range of pricing in purchasing imported furniture on Rarotonga.As an example that might help in deciding what to pack for shipping, here are some prices of new furniture from the stores above:

  • Bedroom drawers (large): $1200+
  • Bedroom drawers (small): $1000
  • Narrow tallboy: $700
  • Storage shelf: $300
  • Coffee table: $200

Useful Facebook pages to join:

  • Buy Sell Trade Cook Islands
  • Rarotonga Community and Beyond
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Transport and buying a vehicle

Technically you can get around Rarotonga by bus, motorbike, bicycle or car.All of these options are viable, however a car is the most convenient way to get around.

There is only one option of public transport in Rarotonga; a daily clockwise and anti-clockwise bus service.

An adult ticket from point A to B costs $5 or $30 for a 10-trip concession.

Buying a car in Rarotonga

Buying a second hand car anywhere is a little bit hit and miss.It’s always trickier negotiating as a foreigner – you don’t want to come across as a cheapskate or offend anybody, but you likely don’t yet have the same kind of contacts as the locals do.

There are two options for buying a car in Rarotonga (there is no equivalent online app like Trade Me or Gum Tree).You can buy privately from an individual seller (see below for Facebook pages) or from a commercial rental service or car dealer.

Useful Facebook pages to join:

Fuel costs

  • Petrol:205 cents per litre
  • Diesel:201 cents per litre

Our small car costs $60 NZD to fill up with petrol and a tank lasts around two weeks. (Remember, the speed limit is only 50 kmph!).

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WOF and registration

Cars in Rarotonga need a warrant of fitness every 6 months.(In saying that, the criteria for ‘fitness’ of a vehicle over here is somewhat different from home!).

Registration for a vehicle is annual and expires (for all vehicles) on the 31stof March each year.Registration can be purchased from the BCI in Avarua oronline.

Second hand car prices

Advice that was given to us was to think of what you would pay for something in New Zealand and then add $3000 to it.This seems to be reasonably accurate in judging a fair price for an older model of second-hand vehicle.

A few examples of current car prices advertised on Raro Wheel Deals:

Small car
eg. 2007 Nissan March, Toyota Passo
Price: $5000 – 8000

Medium car
eg. 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla
$6000 – 10,000 NZD

Large car
eg. 2005 Mazda MPV, Nissan Teana
$10,000 – $15,000

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Buying a motorbike in Rarotonga

A scooter or motorbike is a great choice to get around Rarotonga; and certainly if you are looking for an economic transport option. If you are lucky you can pick yourself up an ex-rental from Polynesian Car Rentals and Bikes in Avarua.The price of an ex-rental is around $1200.

Buying a second-hand motorbike on Raro Wheel Deals ranges between $500 – $2000.And you essentially get what you pay for.

A motorbike costs less than $10 to fill up with fuel and a full tank lasts us about a fortnight.(Parking is made easy too!). The only challenge in opting for a motorbike over a car is the chance of rain. However, tropical showers do not last long and you generally dry out before you arrive!

Helmets are compulsory now as part of new law.It may be worth bringing a helmet from New Zealand as helmets aren’t cheap to buy and often are not in stock (while waiting for shipments to arrive).

Healthcare and emergency services

Rarotonga has a central police station in Avarua and main hospital in Nikao.

(Video) 🐠 The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga & The Cook Islands ☀️ by

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Rarotonga’s main hospital is in Nikao.There is an emergency outpatient clinic in Tupapa (Tupapa Clinic).There are two chemists on the island: a main one in Avarua at CITC and another in Muri next to Delilicious Cafe.

Each village has a localized ‘puna’or clinic.These areCommunity Health Clinics that have been established to provide basic health services including nursing care, baby checks, wound dressings, counselling and doctors consultations on certain days.

  • Clinics are open from 7am-3pm (Mon-Thurs) & 7am-12pm (Fri).

Watch out fortropical sores.These are very serious in the islands and can be a result of any small nick or cut to begin with (a mosquito bite, scratch from a prickle, or a minor graze).Tropical sores escalate quickly and turn a usually-healing nick into an abscess.Keep any cuts covered and take heed and action if you do notice it getting infected.

At the time of writing (March 2021) thepunaare also being used at Covid-19 Testing Stations and have the equipment to carry out a Covid-19 sample test. (The tests are then flown to New Zealand to be processed in Auckland, which at this time means the tests are conducted on a Thursday before the weekly Friday flight departs).

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Dengue is a viral infection transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.These mosquitoes thrive in areas with standing water, including puddles, water tanks, containers and old tires.

The risk of dengue is present through the Cook Islands and particularly on the island of Rarotonga.Be sensible and take precautions; use insect repellent (tropical strength), wear long trousers, burn mosquito coils and keep mosquito screens shut on windows and doors in your house.

Mosquito coils cost around $1.50 for a pack of 8 and are available everywhere. There are some nice smelling (frangipani) scented coils.An old dish or saucepan is a good idea for a safe way to have incense burning inside your house all the time.

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Dangerous animals?

There are no venomous snakes or insects, but centipedes bite and the coral reefs and stone-fish should be treated with caution…

That, plus there is the necessity to train your eye to recognise suspicious-but-small mounds of sand in the garden that may be home to biting red ants. (Our kids have quickly grown accustomed to the trusty red-ant-stomp that shakes these babies off; but the bites do sting with note!).

Be aware of:

  • Centipedes:The sting from a brown centipede is likened to the sting of a bee. The ‘bite’ produces mainly localised burning, pain, swelling and hardening.It can also induce headache and vomiting. (We’ve learnt to appreciate the local chickens that roam our backyard and help keep bugs at bay!).
  • Red ants:These are stinging ants and often live in small mounds of sand.You likely will react instantly but jumping up and down seems to shake them off quickly.
  • Stonefish:These are the most dangerous creature in the lagoon.Look these up before arriving so you know what to keep an eye out for. (They are extremely hard to see!).A pair reef shoes is a good idea if you are going snorkeling.

Note: There are a lot of dogs on Rarotonga and many who roam at the beach and will try to befriend you for food.As a word of warning(?); if you feed a dog at your house it will likely never leave!

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Phone and Internet

Vodafone is the sole communications provider in the Cook Islands.Due to this monopoly prices for internet and data are expensive.If you are considering moving as a digital nomad then be sure to look closely at the figures before making your decision.

  • Country Code: +682.
  • Internationalcallprefix: 00.
  • Nationalnumbers contain five (5) digits.
  • Format: +682 XX XXX

Prepay bundles with Vodafone are available for top up at convenience stores and supermarkets once you have purchased a local SIM card.

Prepay bundles

600MB: $3 NZD (24 HR)
1GB: $5 NZD (3 Day)
2GB: $10 NZD (7 Day)
6GB: $30 NZD (10 Day)

Monthly phone plans are a good option for local calls and texts, however data is limited.

Mobile postpay plans

$49: 5GB data; 200 mins; 1000 SMS
$89: 15GB data; 400 mins; 1250 SMS
$119: 40GB; 600 mins; 1500 SMS
$149: 70GB; 800 mins; 2000 SMS

Home internet and wifi is available with Vodafone.There is a one-off charge to set up and install a new Vodafone modem.

Monthly broadband options

15GB$49 NZD
80GB$89 NZD
150GB$139 NZD
250GB$199 NZD
500GB$299 NZD


The majority religion in the Cook Islands is Christianity, with about 70 percent of the population belonging to the Cook Islands Christian Church.

Sunday is a day of rest of the island and most of Avarua is closed.You will be warmly welcomed to attend a local church service at one of the many beautiful Cook Islands Christian Churches dotted around the island.(If it is your first time attending church in the Pacific Islands then you are in luck!There is nothing quite like the sound of Pacific Island hymns and harmonies).

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What you might need (consider adding to your shipping)

  • First Aid kit:Most items are available for purchase on Rarotonga, however things can sometimes be hard to source (aka. Figuring out where on the island specific items are in stock). It is safest to bring a first aid kid from home with contents that are specific to you and your family.
  • Reusable plastic food storage containers(eg. Tupperware/Sistema): Ants are a big thing anywhere in the pacific. Bringing containers also saves using plastic storage bags.Storage containers are available on the island (at Vonnias, CITC Supermarket or Raro Mart) although they are at an imported price.
  • Reusable shopping bags/vegetable bags:Plastic bags are still offered at the markets but it is great to be able to saynoto more single-use plastic.
  • Reusable straws:Once again, anything that is reusable and stops plastic going to landfill or the ocean is a great thing to bring. (These make an awesome gift for someone moving to Rarotonga!).
  • Blender:Smoothies.
  • Yoghurt maker(if you are into it): Easiyo/Hansells yoghurt still comes in plastic packaging here but its much cheaper (much!) than buying yoghurt in a container.
  • Sprouting jar:We use this a lot! You can buy fresh lettuces on the island that are grown locally using hydroponics.But if you are looking for an easy way to grow some fresh greens, a spouting jar is a win.
  • Lifejackets for the kids:These are (sometimes) available for purchase here but it is safest to bring child-sized life jackets from home.
  • Goggles:We use our snorkels and masks daily to swim with in the lagoon and the kids use their swimming goggles for beach swimming lessons after school!
  • Reef/swimming shoes:Keep safe in the lagoon and protect yourself from coral and stonefish. (Reef shoes are also much less disruptive to the fish life than flippers while inside the lagoon).
Moving to Rarotonga, Cook Islands: Everything you need to know! (28)

What would we suggest NOT to bring?

  • Blankets:Rarotonga experiences a comfortable tropical climate all year round!
  • Heavy jackets:Just don’t.Bring a light rain jacket.
  • Flippers:Reef shoes are a great and safe idea for snorkeling.Flippers can be damaging to the coral and disturb the fish life within the lagoon.
  • Temporary swimming pool:There is occasionally a water shortage on the island following a dry spell without rain.(You are surrounded by a beautiful and giant swimming pool anyway!).
  • Single use plastics:Basically, anything that’s not going to last. Be wary of the fact that anything you leave on the island is here forever…

Moving to Rarotonga with kids

Rarotonga is a wonderful place to live with kids!Coming from New Zealand, it is different enough to feel exciting while familiar enough to feel safe.

There are 10 primary schools on the island, 11 options for early childhood education and four secondary schools.It’s a great place to explore with kids and the lifestyle is perfect for making friends. It’s an amazing place to be with kids!

Making the move to Rarotonga

If you are after a life that is beautiful; a life that is friendly; and a lifestyle that is unique only to the Pacific Islands… Then Rarotonga is for you! Get yourself a pareu, grab a coconut and embrace the amazing island culture. It truly is amazing!

Read more from the Cook Islands

  • A reef walk in Rarotonga with Ariimoana.
  • Raemaru Mountain: The easiest climb in Rarotonga?
  • The Needle: Rarotonga’s famous Cross Island walk.
  • 20 AWESOME things to do in Rarotonga with kids!

What else?

Have we convinced you to seriously consider moving to Rarotonga?!

(Video) Everything That You Should Know About The Cook Islands

Leave a comment below with any suggestions of tips or information we could add to this guide.And let us know if you have any questions about moving to Rarotonga.



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