Where to Get the Cheapest Currency Exchange in the Cook Islands
A fiddly but compulsory aspect of planning a trip to the Cook Islands is getting the local currency, New Zealand Dollars (unless, you’re like most visitors and are from New Zealand – and then it’s, in fact, really easy!) In order to avoid paying for everything on your credit/debit card and, in turn, paying unnecessary fees, it’s a good idea to just pay one (or two or three) currency exchange fees and pay your way with cash. But where are the best places to exchange money in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands? Find out with this Cook Islands currency exchange guide.
Is it Better to Exchange Money in the Cook Islands?
Better exchange rates therefore cheaper currency conversions to the New Zealand Dollar can be found in the Cook Islands compared to overseas (except in New Zealand – see the section below). This is often due to overseas currency exchange bureaus and banks having to buy in the New Zealand Dollar themselves before selling it to customers. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you’re unsure whether your local overseas currency exchange bureau offers a good deal, the general rule is that you’ll likely get cheaper exchange rates in the Cook Islands.
Due to the limited options for currency exchange in the Cook Islands, however, and the fact that the country’s local currency is New Zealand Dollars, we recommend converting currency in New Zealand before arriving in the Cook Islands, if you happen to be visiting New Zealand prior. We don’t however, recommend converting currency at Auckland Airport… See The Best Places to Exchange Money in New Zealand on NZPocketGuide.com for more advice on converting currency in New Zealand.
Currency Exchange at Banks in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
BSP Bank (Bank of the South Pacific) Currency Exchange
BSP offers some of the best currency exchange rates in the Cook Islands. They have branches in both Rarotonga (Avarua town centre on the main street) and Aitutaki (Arutanga town centre), offering the only foreign exchange service in Aitutaki. Opening hours for both branches are Monday to Friday, from 9am to 3pm.
See the ATM section below to learn more about using BSP’s ATMs for withdrawing New Zealand Dollars.
BCI Bank (Bank of the Cook Islands) Currency Exchange
The local bank of the Cook Islands, BCI bank also offers currency exchange on Rarotonga. They have a branch in Avarua town centre. Although there are branches on each of the populated islands in the Cook Island their currency exchange service is only available in Avarua or at Rarotonga International Airport for some international arrivals.
Their Avarua branch is located in the town centre on the main road next to the Police Station. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday, from 9am to 3pm and Friday, from 9am to 4pm.
See the ATM section below to learn more about using BCI’s ATMs for withdrawing New Zealand Dollars.
ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) Currency Exchange
The final bank that offers currency exchange in the Cook Islands is ANZ. There is only one branch, however, located on the main road in Avarua town centre on Rarotonga. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, from 9am to 3pm.
Currency Exchange Bureaus in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
There are limited currency exchange bureaus in the Cook Islands, with the only non-bank currency exchange bureaus available on Rarotonga. Although these branches mostly deal in sending and receiving international currency for Cook Islanders, they also, indeed, offer currency exchange.
No 1 Currency at Jetsave Travel
Located in the Federal Pacific House building on the main road in Avarua’s town centre, No 1 Currency at Jetsave Travel offers another currency exchange option on Rarotonga. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 4pm and Saturday, from 8.30am to 1pm.
No 1 Currency/Western Union Muri
There is also a No 1 Currency and Western Union branch in Muri town centre, located on the main road.
Withdrawing New Zealand Dollars from ATMs
More abundant across Rarotonga and Aitutaki than currency exchange bureaus and banks, ATMs are another worthy way to get New Zealand Dollars in the Cook Islands with an overseas debit or credit card. You cannot, however, exchange foreign currency at an ATM; only make a withdrawal.
What International Cards Do Cook Islands ATMs Accept?
Cook Islands ATMs and banks accept overseas debit and credit cards issued by Visa and MasterCard, as long as there is a four-digit PIN encoded. There is likely to be a withdrawal fee for withdrawing currency from an ATM from an overseas bank account, usually around NZ$5 flat fee, and some might charge an additional conversion surcharge of around 3%.
Note that the BCI ATM in Avarua town centre does not charge a withdrawal fee for certain New Zealand bank cards. See Can You Use Your Credit Card in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands? for more details.
Where are the ATMs in the Cook Islands?
There are a total of 15 ATMs around Rarotonga, most of which are BSP ATMs including in Avarua, Rarotonga International Airport and Muri. Check out more BSP ATM locations in Information, Shops & Services on Rarotonga.
There are two ATMs also located on Aitutaki; one at the airport and one in Arutanga. See the Information, Shops & Services on Aitutaki for more details.
More About Money in the Cook Islands
That’s it for our guide on the best places to exchange money in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. For more about paying your way through your holiday, check out the following guides:
- What is the Best Way to Pay in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
- Can You Use Your Credit Card in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
- How Much Spending Money Do You Need for Rarotonga & the Cook Islands?
For more essential tips for your Cook Islands getaway, check out the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.