Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?©
Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?

Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?


How Expensive are Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands?

Want to go on holiday but perhaps don’t want to fork out all of your life savings for it? We hear you! Due to its remote location in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands isn’t the cheapest country to get to (unless you’re coming from New Zealand). Once you’ve landed in this tropical paradise, however, is the rest of your trip going to be a money drain? Is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands expensive? Well, it’s all a matter of perspective, which we’ll explore in this complete guide to the Cook Islands’ expensiveness or, as the case may be, cheapness!

Cook Islands (New Zealand Dollar) Exchange Rates

One way to determine how expensive the Cook Islands is compared to your home country is to compare the exchange of its currency and yours. The Cook Islands currency is the New Zealand Dollar, which is quite advantageous when compared to the US, Canadian or Australian Dollar.

Exchange rates typically fluctuate, but the average New Zealand Dollar exchange rates are as follows:

NZ$1 =

  • Australian Dollar: 0.91
  • US Dollar: 0.63
  • Canadian Dollar: 0.82
  • Euro: 0.60
  • Fijian Dollar: 1.38
  • Tongan Pa’anga: 1.48
  • CFP Franc: 72.39
  • Philippine Peso: 34.28
  • British Pound: 0.52
  • Indian Rupee: 49.45
  • Japanese Yen: 85.63

For an up-to-date exchange rate between the New Zealand Dollar and your chosen currency, check out Wise or XE Money.

Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?©

Is Rarotonga More Expensive than…

Whether Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are considered “expensive” depends on where you are comparing the cost of holidaying and living. Here’s our take on how expensive Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are compared to other countries around the world (and where most visitors are coming from/likely to consider visiting).

Is Rarotonga More Expensive than New Zealand?

Considering the Cook Islands uses the same currency, the New Zealand Dollar, and the country imports a lot of goods from New Zealand, we find that the prices for food, accommodation and getting around are on par or just marginally more expensive than in New Zealand.

Are the Cook Islands More Expensive than Australia?

The cost of food, accommodation and general living and transport in the Cook Islands are a bit more expensive than what you are used to in Australia.

Are the Cook Islands More Expensive than the US?

Food, transport and fuel are significantly more expensive in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands compared to the US. Accommodation in the Cook Islands, however, is cheaper than vacationing in Hawaii.

Are the Cook Islands More Expensive than Asia?

Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are significantly more expensive than a trip to any Asian holiday hotspots, such as Bali (Indonesia), Thailand and Cambodia, for example.

Are the Cook Islands More Expensive than Europe?

Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are generally more expensive than Europe, especially in terms of food and transport.

Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?©

Are the Outer Islands More Expensive than Rarotonga in the Cook Islands?

How do the outer islands compare to Rarotonga in terms of price? In general, the cost of holidaying on the outer islands tends to be a little cheaper than in Rarotonga.

The average cost of accommodation is much lower on the outer islands compared with Rarotonga, with some exceptions in Aitutaki. As many of the accommodations on the outer islands are all-inclusive, i.e. they include meals, you’ll find that food budgets tend to be pretty low for travellers. For self-catering, however, grocery store prices on the outer islands tend to be a little higher than on Rarotonga.

Additionally, most activities on the outer islands, with the exception of Aitutaki, are free. Guided tours, where necessary, are much cheaper than tours on Rarotonga. Transport costs, such as vehicle rental, are cheaper although fuel on the outer islands is significantly more expensive than on Rarotonga.

Your biggest expense for the outer islands, however, is your flight there. For the outer islands of the Southern Group, return flights start at around NZ$500, while flying to the Northern Group is over NZ$1,000 one way! Find out more about flights in our Domestic Flights in the Cook Islands guide and compare the islands to visit in The Best Islands to Visit in the Cook Islands.

Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?©

Typical Costs in the Cook Islands

One of the best ways to judge whether you think Rarotonga and the Cook Islands are expensive is to look at the typical cost of food, accommodation, transport and communications, such as WiFi. We cover all of the typical costs in our price guides, so be sure to browse the following:

You can also check out the 20 Tips to Save Money in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for ways to keep the costs to a minimum.

Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?© Sean Scott - Cook Islands Tourism

Frequently Asked Questions About How Expensive is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

Let’s go over the most asked questions about how expensive is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. You never know, you might get your question answered!

The Cook Islands is more expensive to visit than Australia, the US, Asia and Europe but cheaper than other Pacific destinations like Hawaii, Fiji and Tahiti (French Polynesia). It has very similar prices to New Zealand.

Which is Cheaper, Fiji or the Cook Islands?

The Cook Islands is slightly cheaper than Fiji due to there being more independent accommodations in the Cook Islands and the freedom to explore the islands; choosing your own tours and restaurants, instead of being confined to one resort which is often the case in Fiji.

More About How Expensive is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands

That’s it for our guide answering the question: Is Rarotonga and the Cook Islands expensive? If you need more advice concerning budget, however, just take a look at the following guides:

Finally, plan your entire trip using The Best Cook Islands Travel Guide and get more tips from the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cook Islands Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as the Cook Islands. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Raro’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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