Last updated: 6 Jan 2022

Cook Islands


Tourists come to the Cook Islands for the beaches. The Islands, despite covering a vast area, have a very small population, and they don't possess any of the large tourist resorts that some might expect from a lush holiday destination.

Various festivals take place throughout the year. These are generally celebrated with singing and dancing, often with a strange mixture of traditional ritual grafted on to the somewhat later Christian music and ceremony. Scuba-diving and snorkelling are excellent. Visibility is seldom under 30m and the scenery is quite varied, with canyons, caves, 73 types of live coral and a rich marine life.

The humpback whale season is from July to October. In addition to observing the whales from a boat, it is possible to swim with them.

Papua Waterfall, also known as Wigmore’s Waterfall, is the only waterfall on Rarotonga and is situated at Vaimaanga. A popular way for tourists to visit the falls is on one of the numerous organised pony treks.
Capital:  Avarua (on Rarotonga) (RAR)
Currency:  New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Language:  English and Cook Islands Maori
Dialling code from SA:  + 682
Time Zones: UTC / GMT -10 (12 hours behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2022: 

Jan 1-4; Apr 15, 18, 25; Jun 6; Jul 1; Aug 4; Oct 26; Dec 25-27

Side of the Road: Left
Best Time to go: April – November (Dry Season)
Best For: Cultural exploration, Natural attractions
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The New Zealand and Australian three-pin plug is used as standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Outside of the main towns, water may be contaminated. Bottled water is available. 
Health: Medical facilities are limited. It is advisable to carry basic medical supplies.  Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage. If you require any medication on your travels it is best to bring it with you, in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it.
Customs: If attending church on Sunday, women should wear a dress or blouse and skirt and men trousers and shirt. Swimwear should be reserved for the beach / poolside. Nude / topless sunbathing is not accepted. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Cook Islands driver's licence are required, which is obtainable for a small fee from the Police Station in Avarua on presentation of an International or Commonwealth licence.
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into the Cook Islands by travellers over 18 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
• 2L of spirits or wine or 4.5L of beer
• Goods up to the value of NZ$250
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited or restricted imports include medicines, weapons, indecent publications, endangered species of flora and fauna, and illicit drugs

Travel Alerts

Last updated: 15/09/2021

Entry to Cook Islands is not permitted for most foreign passengers.

Entry restrictions

  • Passengers are not permitted to enter the Cook Islands.

Form requirements

Test requirement

  • Passengers must hold a negative Covid-19 test obtained within 72 hours prior to departure.

Quarantine requirement

  • Passengers must quarantine for 7 days on arrival in a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility in Rarotonga.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

Cook Islands Consulate
Parkview Tower, Level 3, 28 Davies Avenue
Manukau 2104
Auckland, New Zealand

Phone: +64 (0)9 261 0015 l Fax: +64 263 8033

Visa Requirements

  • SA passport holders visiting the Cook Islands do not require a visa for a stay not exceeding 30 days.
  • Passengers are to be in possession of a valid passport with blank pages , valid for a minimum of 6 months, have return or onward passage, proof of suitable accommodation and proof of financial means to support his/her stay.

SA Representative

SA Embassy in Canberra (Australia).

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio