Celebrating the New Year in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is one of the last countries in the world to celebrate the New Year, making it a pretty noteworthy place to visit for fans of this annual event. As well as fireworks displays and resorts offering spectacular New Year’s feasts, Cook Islanders have their own special traditions to celebrate the New Year that are well worth seeking out. In short, there are many reasons to celebrate the New Year in the Cook Islands.
Plan your New Year’s getaway with this guide on how to spend the New Year in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.
How to Say “Happy New Year” in Cook Islands Maori
Happy New Year in Cook Islands Maori is “Kia Manuia i te Mataiti ou!” Learn more about the local language in our guide, What is the Rarotonga & Cook Islands Language?
New Year’s Eve Celebrations on Rarotonga
As the most populated and developed of the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is where you’ll find the most activity when it comes to New Year celebrations.
Rarotonga NYE Fireworks Displays
Like many developed countries in the world and as the most developed island in the Cook Islands, Rarotonga puts on fun-filled fireworks displays for New Year’s Eve. Most NYE fireworks tend to take place in Avarua, the island’s capital or nearby in the suburbs of Nikao. Different fireworks displays are happening every year, however, so ask around the island when you arrive for New Year’s to see where they are taking place this year!
The Best Rarotonga Restaurants and Bars for New Year’s Eve
- RSC, Muri Beach
- Pacific Resort, Muri Beach
- Muri Beach Club
- Nautilus, Muri Beach
- Trader Jacks, Avarua
- On the Rocks, Avarua
- Rehab, Avarua
Note that if New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday, the bars close at midnight due to local liquor laws (you’ve got to be fresh for Sunday church)! You’ll also want to book a table at the restaurants listed. Find out more about the bars listed in the 10 Best Bars in Rarotonga, as well as popular restaurants in the 10 Best Restaurants in Rarotonga.
New Year’s Eve Market
The Nikao Social Centre Market holds an annual New Year’s Eve market complete with fireworks and a beachfront location. Find it located in Nikao near the end of the airport runway.
Rangokere – Celebrating the New Year on the Outer Islands
On the outer islands, especially on Mauke, New Year festivities take a more traditional approach. Rangokere is an event where locals walk (or drive) around the islands’ villages gifting baskets of food, usually singing and dancing as they go.
Part of the event is where one of the two villages on Mauke will host specially prepared feasts in villagers’ homes, known as teretere or roni. The other village will have done the same on Christmas Day.
If you want to experience something a little different or gain true Cook Islands cultural experience, head to the outer islands for a Rangokere celebration.
Koni Raoni – Celebrating the New Year on Aitutaki
Aitutaki is not only a spectacular holiday destination with picture-perfect resorts and delightful villas, but the island is particularly alive on New Year’s Day.
Koni Raoni is Aitutaki’s “Round the Island Dance” where each year, a different village hosts a Koni Raoni and dances while travelling around the main island to fundraise for their village. The event also happens on Boxing Day.
How to Celebrate the New Year Twice by Travelling to the Cook Islands
That’s right, it is possible to experience New Year’s Eve twice by visiting the Cook Islands.
Due to its location on the International Date Line (see the Cook Islands time zone here), the Cook Islands is one of the last countries to celebrate the New Year. If you celebrate the New Year on the western side of the International Date Line (such as in New Zealand), then travel to the eastern side of the Date Line to the Cook Islands, you’ll be travelling “back in time”. There’s a 23-hour time difference between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, yet just a three-hour flight, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the New Year twice!
More About the Cook Islands New Year’s Events
That’s it for our complete guide to New Year’s Eve in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. Need more New Year’s inspiration or perhaps something to do for Christmas? Check out these guides:
- Cook Islands Christmas Ideas: How to Spend Christmas in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- The Top Events & Festivals in the Cook Islands
- The Guide to Easter in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
Finally, fill up the rest of your time in the Cook Islands with the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands.