Cook Islands

Cook Islands

Use Normal Level of Caution

Located in the South Pacific Ocean about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, the Cook Islands archipelago includes 15 islands with a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 square miles). The islands were named after Captain Cook, who sighted them in 1770, and by 1888, they became a British protectorate. By 1901, boundary changes put the Cook Islands within the Colony of New Zealand. In 1949, islanders who were British subjects acquired full New Zealand citizenship.

The Cook Islands are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. New Zealand is responsible for external affairs and defense. The monarch of the United Kingdom is the chief of state, represented by a governor-general. The head of government is a prime minister.

The population of Cook Islands is about 11,700 (2016) with the majority of the people living on the island of Rarotonga. The economy is affected by the lack of natural resources, lack of adequate infrastructure, and isolation from foreign markets. Agriculture is the main sector of the economy, and black pearls are the leading export.

The Cook Islanders are protective of their culture and heritage. Many young people are taught the wood carving skills that the Cook Islanders are known for, and children attend mandatory classes to learn traditional songs and dance.

Facilities for travellers are well-developed on Aitutaki and Rarotonga. Travellers can take part in many outdoor activities that include scuba diving, snorkeling, mountain biking, or relaxing on beautiful beaches and swimming in clear lagoons.

Currency NZD; CKD: New Zealand Dollar; Cook Islands Dollar
Language English; Cook Islands Maori
Capital Avarua
Recent Alerts 2
Latest Alert February 28, 2021 - Passengers From New Zealand Temporarily Banned from Cook Islands

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Cook Islands. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a risk of exposure to hepatitis A virus in this country through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B

There is a risk for acquiring hepatitis B in this country.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in this country, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where water and food may not be safe.


Rabies may be present in bats, but has not been reported in domestic or wild animals in this country.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever may occur in this country.

Zika Fever

There is a limited risk of Zika virus in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Cook Islands.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to hepatitis A in this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas, or staying with friends and family.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers whose activities or employment may bring them into direct contact with bats (i.e. adventure travellers, veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers, etc.).

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Cook Islands.

None required.

Safety and Security in Cook Islands

Emergency Numbers

112 For mobile phones

Medical facilities are limited. In the event of serious illness or injury, medical evacuation could be necessary. Ensure that you have adequate travel insurance.

There are no hyperbaric chambers on any of the islands for treatment of scuba diving-related injuries. Serious cases of decompression sickness must be evacuated to New Zealand.

Personal Safety

There is general hospitality towards tourists, and the crime rate is low. Nevertheless, petty crime does occur. Take the necessary precautions to stay safe and to avoid petty crime and theft. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport.

Road travel at night can be dangerous due to poor visibility and road conditions.

Before swimming in lagoons, get local advice on safety. Tidal changes and breaks in the reefs have caused injuries and deaths.

Cyclone season for the Cook Islands is between November and April, and tropical storms and cyclones do occur in other months.

Cook Island currency cannot be used outside the Cook Islands. Exchange your currency at the airport bank before departing.

The Cook Islands are a conservative society. Respect local customs and culture.

Same-sex relations and behaviour between men is illegal. Penalties can include prison sentences. LGBTI travellers should consider this risk before travelling to the Cook Islands.

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