Aitutaki Facts and information

Here are some facts and information for ttravelers to the Aitutaki Lagoon. Click on any link to jump to the subject

Airport Churches Respect of Traditions List of things to Bring
Climate Commumications Driving/Road Safety Electricity
Currency & Banking Clubs & Services Medical Services Local Newspapers
Customs & Imports Fun Stats Public Holidays Tax & Tipping
Departure Tax Cook Islands History Public Transport Foods to try 
Entry Requirements      

Airport

World Airport codes      Aitutaki Airport code (AIT)   Rarotonga (RAR)  

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 Airlines to service the Cook Islands locally.

Air New Zealand       For reconfirmation of flights, phone 682 26 300.
Pacific Blue                For reconfirmation of flights, phone 682 24 040.
Air Rarotonga            Rarotonga  arrv & dept, local,  22889 Intl (682) 22889
Aitutaki  arrv & dept, local   31888 Intl (682)  31888

Churches

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 know 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.

Communications

Post office
Post office/telecom office located next to Westpac Bank at the main 4 way junction in town. They have postal service, phone cards, fax, and Western Union. Open Mon thru Fri 8am - 4pm

Banks
There are 3 banks on the island, (2 ANZ banks and 1 Westpac bank).
Two of them are located next to the Post office, and the Westpac has an ATM.
The other ANZ located just down from the Pacific resort next to spider cafe also has an ATM.
Westpac is open Mon-Wed-Fri 9:30am-3pm
ANZ is open Mon thru Thurs 9am-12 noon & 1pm-3pm

Phones
When phoning the Cook Islands from other countries dial 682 then the number.

Internet
There is an internet cafe located in the middle of the man stretch of road on the North west side of Aitutaki, it is called Spider internet cafe and has 4 terminals, but be patient it is not high speed. Currently charges are $8 per hr.

Television
There is no cable television on Aitutaki, a few of the resorts have satellite, but only offer a few channels at best. There are some community halls set up for Sky TV. Everyone is welcome to walk in. The bar called The Boat Shed, has Sky.
There is a local channel broadcast from the top of the mountain on Aitutaki for the few places that have a television.

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Climate

Aitutaki gets better weather then 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!


(Temp degrees celcius)       (Hours per month)
Max       Min                           Sunshine

Jan     22.8     22.9                     179

Feb     29.1     23.1                    171

Mar    28.8      22.6                    181

Apr     28.2      22.0                   174

May    26.6      20.4                   162

June    25.6     19.3                    169

July     25.2     18.6                    177

Aug    24.9      18.4                    182

Sept    25.3     19.1                     177

Oct     26.0     20.0                     185

Nov     27.1     21.0                    178

Dec     27.8     21.9                    181


Clubs & Services

Aitutaki is not big on the night club scene, that's why it is so popular for relaxing vacations. There is a few places one can take in the Aitutaki night life,
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 second most popular place is the Blue nun, at the end of the Aitutaki market place on the main pier.
Both places really 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 water front, 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.

-Aitutaki game fishing club    located directly across from the Aitutaki market on the water front.

- Emeli’s Hair Salon         Located in the long building by the wharf.
Open  Mon thru Fri 10:30am to “late”. #31790
and Mobile #56216 located in the Aitutaki market place

Local radio: FM 91.8

Currency & Banking

Currency
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.

Banking
There are 3 banks on the island, (1 ANZ bank 1 Westpac bank and 1 BCI, bank of the Cook Islands).
Two of them are located next to the Post office, the Westpac has an ATM.
The other ANZ located just down from the Pacific resort next to spider cafe also has an ATM.
Westpac is open Mon-Wed-Fri 9:30am-3pm
ANZ is open       Mon thru Thurs 9am-12 noon & 1pm-3pm
BCI is open Mon - Fri 9am-3pm

Western union
Located inside the Post office at the main 4 way junction.
Open - Mon-Fri 8am-4pm

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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:
200 cigarettes or up to ½ pound (1 kg) of tobacco or up to 50 cigars,
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

Quarantine service
Ministry of Agriculture
Government of the Cook Islands
Phone - Int 682 28710  Local  28710
Fax -     Int 682 21881   Local  21881
Email -  quaranti@oyster.net.ck

Departure taxes

Upon departure from Rarotonga all visitors will be charged the following taxes:
There are no departure taxes for Aitutaki.

All persons NZ$55
Children 2 years and under $15.

This must be paid upon departure, and is not included as part of prepaid taxes with airline tickets.

Departure tax can be purchased in cash, (not credit card,) from the Westpac Bank at the International Terminal (Open for all International Flights), or at Westpac Bank in the main town Avarua on Raro.

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Entry requirements

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 five additional months only.

A fee is payable with each application within 14 days prior to the expiration of the permit. Extensions are granted at two levels.
Up to three months NZ$70 (15 years and older),
up to five months NZ$120 (15 years and older).
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 682 29347 or email tutai@immigration.gov.ck

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.

Please direct applications to:
Principal Immigration Officer
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration
PO Box 105
Rarotonga Ph: (682) 29347
COOK ISLANDS Fax: (682) 21247

 

Driving/road safety

Vehicles are driven on the left hand side of the road.

The maximum road speed limit is 50kph in the town and villages and 60kph outside of populated areas.

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.

Electricity

Voltage is 220 AC/50 cycle, the same as Australia and New Zealand.

In some cases a two pin adaptor may be required.

Some hotels and motels have provisions for 110 volt AC electric razors.

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.

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Medical services

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 an 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


Public transport

Aitutaki has no bus system in place.
There is a local taxi- Pacifica Taxi 31220
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

There is a 12.5% 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.

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Fun Stats

-
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 co-ordinates 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 Polynesian's more than 1,500 years ago, the Cook islands were sighted by Capt. 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.

Aitutaki, facts

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.

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Public Holidays

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
Good Friday
Easter Monday
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 list of things to bring.

This list is for things that you should have, it does not include regular everyday stuff.

1. Sun screen, a water proof 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, (wind breaker 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 snorkeling.

10. Lightweight long sleeve shirts (for sun & bug protection.) also good for snorkeling.

11.  Shoes, water/aqua 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. Tropical Strength Insect repellent.

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 their prescription container) Its not recommended to try and bring in any drugs with codeine in them.

19. Feminine napkins and the like.

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Local News Papers

Cook Islands Herald, Online Edition

Cook Islands News,  Online Edition

Respect of Traditions

The Cook Islands is a religious nation. One of the reasons why the country is safe is because most people go to church or believe in God. Part of this is that the people are very modest people. We do not appreciate nudity of any form. If you are sun bathing please do not sunbathe naked, keep your togs or bikinis on. Also, when in town, or walking through the town shops please do not walk around in bikinis or without a shirt on. And please do not wear shorts or a singlet if you attend a church service.

Cook Islands Foods to try

You should try our 'ika mata' - marinated raw fish in coconut cream and lemon juice. Trust me, the lemon juice cooks the fish so it's not as raw as its name suggests. It's really nice.
Other food you should try is 'poke' - banana or pawpaw pudding. This is basically banana or pawpaw mixed with arrowroot/cassava flour and served with coconut cream. It's rich but its an experience.
Try our root crops, or our staples - taro, arrowroot, kumara. A lot of visitors don't like taro, they say it tastes like soap, but we locals like it. Maybe the trick is that you don't eat it by itself, you cut a bit off and eat it with raw fish. Most visitors prefer kumara, the sweet potato, we have this in many different colors - purple, white, orange, yellow, but they are still the same thing.
Coconut juice - we call it 'nu'. It's a very pleasant drink so try it at least once. You can get them at the market for about $4. The locals think $4 is expensive but that's the price you pay if you don't want to get your own off the tree.
Mayonnaise - It's a dressing in your part of the world, but we have a potato salad that is called that. The potato salad is mixed with beetroot, chow chow and a home made egg mayonnaise. Locals love it.
Mitiore - This is grated coconut marinated in the juice of small white crabs with sprinklings of spring onion and sea urchins.
Seafood - If you do visit Aitutaki and the outer Islands there is a lot of different kind of seafood you can try like 'remu' - sea grapes, and all kinds of sea urchins, crabs etc. Do not eat sea urchins straight out of the sea as you may be unfamiliar with what is edible.


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