How to Get Cheap (or Even Free) Airport Transfers in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and the Cook Islands
You’ve already paid a significant chunk of your tropical-getaway-to-paradise budget on a flight to Rarotonga; the last thing you want to do is pay way too much to get to your accommodation too! Luckily, we’ve put together this guide to the cheapest airport transfers in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands, also covering some cheeky little ways to score free airport transfers when travelling to the outer islands.
While you’re here, don’t miss our 20 Tips to Save Money in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands for more budget-friendly advice.
How to Get a Free Airport Transfer in the Cook Islands
Did you know that, actually, many accommodations across the Cook Islands pick guests up from the airport for free? On the outer islands, it’s a given that accommodation providers on Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, the Northern Group and any island with an airstrip will provide airport transfers for free. This is also the case for almost all accommodations on Aitutaki, while Rarotonga only has a few selected resorts offering free airport transfers. These are:
Haven’t found accommodation yet? Start your search with The BEST Cook Islands Accommodations: Where to Stay.
The Rarotonga Island Bus – The Cheapest Airport Transfer on Rarotonga
The cheapest way to get, well, anywhere on Rarotonga is the round-the-island bus. The same goes for airport transfers. This airport transfer option is only taken up by savvy travellers who are prepared to do a tiny bit of walking (about 50m/165ft) to the main road outside of the airport.
Note that the bus has limited space for luggage, so it is an Ok transfer to take if you only have one or two suitcases between you and your group – you may just have to pay a small luggage fee. If you have a lot of bags, however, the public bus is not the best option. Consider alternatives from the 9 Best Airport Transfers in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Where to Catch the Bus From Rarotonga Airport
There are two buses travelling around the main road (Ara Tapu) of Rarotonga. Each takes 50 minutes to circle the whole island. According to the schedule, which you can check on The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More, a bus passes by the airport every 30 minutes.
Buses for the airport stop outside of the RSA Club, just across the road from the airport car park. Stand on the same side of the road as the RSA if you wish to catch the Clockwise bus or stand on the opposite side of the road to the RSA if you wish to catch the Anticlockwise bus. In either case, make sure to wave the bus down as you see it approaching.
How Much Does an Airport Transfer on the Bus Cost?
The cost of taking the bus between Rarotonga Airport and anywhere along the main road of the island (as long as you don’t do a complete loop) is NZ$5 per adult and NZ$3 per child. You will also get charged a luggage fee for large bags and suitcases at NZ$2 per piece, which is decided by the driver.
Check out more bus fare options, as well as tips on how to take the bus, in The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.
Airport Shuttles – The Cheapest Airport Transfers to Rarotonga’s Resorts
If your accommodation is not on the same coast as Rarotonga Airport, i.e. in places like Muri, Titikaveka, Aroa Beach, Arorangi or anywhere along the south coast, then you’ll find that the shared airport shuttles are cheaper than getting a taxi. (By the way, if you’re not sure which area you are staying, you might be able to work it out with Where to Stay on Rarotonga: The BEST Rarotonga Accommodations).
Currently, Kaimani Shuttles Rarotonga is the cheapest shuttle at around NZ$25 per adult, NZ$15 per child and infants ride free. The rate includes a floral ‘ei (neck garland) and a chilled bottle of water.
Learn more about Rarotonga’s airport shuttles in the 8 Best Airport Transfers in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Taxis – The Cheapest Airport Transfer to Avarua
If you’re staying nearby the airport, in other words, in Avarua or Nikao, then you’ll find that a taxi will be one of your cheapest airport transfers. Taxi rides to town or in the suburb of Nikao (Nikao is the suburb where Rarotonga Airport is located) cost approximately NZ$15 per person.
Be sure to double-check rates at the taxi kiosk of the arrivals area at Rarotonga Airport before agreeing to a ride, as some companies might charge extra.
Find out more about what taxi companies charge for airport transfers in How Much Does a Rarotonga Airport Taxi Cost?. Plus, learn more about using a taxi to travel anywhere on the island in our guide, Taxis in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Taxi Fares, How to Use & More.
More About the Cheapest Airport Transfers in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands
Did you know that you can also get your car rental delivered to Rarotonga Airport for your arrival? Although this usually incurs a NZ$30-$40 fee, there is one company based just across the road from the airport where you don’t have to pay this premium. Find out more in the 7 Best Car Rentals in Rarotonga. As for more ways to save on airport transfers, check out the following guides:
- 9 Best Airport Transfers in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 5 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Renting a Car in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
- 10 Ways to Save Money on Car Rental in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
Finally, discover more ways to get around the Cook Islands in our Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Best Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.