The Complete Guide to the Cook Islands on a Budget
At first glance, the Cook Islands doesn’t look like it’s made for backpackers or budget travellers. But between the lavish villas and resorts are humble pieces of paradise where even the most frugal of travellers can enjoy a bungalow on the beach. With buses and scooters to explore the natural wonders, snorkelling spots and historical sites of Rarotonga and hosts on the outer islands welcoming you with warm hospitality, unforgettable feasts and free caves, beaches and attractions to visit, there are real backpacking gems to be found. We’ll help you find them, right here, in the complete budget and backpacking guide to the Cook Islands!
An Intro to the Cook Islands
Location: The Cook Islands is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean in between Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and French Polynesia. It is approximately 3,000 km (1,864 miles) northeast of New Zealand. Find out more in Where are the Cook Islands Located?
Size: The Cook Islands’ land area is 261 km² (101 mi²) scattered across 2,200,000 km² (850,000 sq mi) of ocean.
Climate: Maximum average temperature – 27°C/81°F, minimum average temperature – 21°C/70°F and yearly average rainfall – 2,000mm/79″.
Find out more in The Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate
Time zone: UTC/GMT-10.
Find out more in What is the Cook Islands Time Zone?
Find out more in Who are the People of the Cook Islands?
Languages: Cook Islands Maori, English and Pukapukan.
Find out more in What is the Cook Islands Language?
How to Get to the Cook Islands
What is the best way to get to the Cook Islands? The Cook Islands can be accessed by flight, cruise ship or private sailing yachts. But if you’re visiting the Cook Islands on a budget, then we’re guessing you’re coming via the most economical way; by international flight, so let’s start with that.
Flying to the Cook Islands
Direct international flights to the Cook Islands come from New Zealand, Australia, Honolulu and French Polynesia. If you’re coming from further afield, connecting flights can be made in New Zealand and Australia. See our guide, Which Airlines Fly Directly to the Cook Islands? for more advice.
All international arrivals land at Rarotonga International Airport on the island of Rarotonga, only a few minutes from the nation’s capital, Avarua. Find out more about the airport and what to expect in Which Airport to Fly into the Cook Islands.
How to Get Cheaper Flights to the Cook Islands
Want to know how to save some dough on a flight? Check out our tips in How to Book a Cheap Flight to the Cook Islands. And once you’ve landed, combine that with The Cheapest Airport Transfers in the Cook Islands.
Cruises to the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is on the itinerary of several South Pacific cruises from French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia, as well as round-the-world cruises from the US and Europe. There are two main ports of call in the Cooks, one in Rarotonga and the other in Aitutaki. Cruises also occasionally stop at Palmerston. Find out about which cruise liners have the Cook Islands on their itinerary, as well as what to do at each port of call in 7 Best Cruises That Visit the Cook Islands and The Complete Guide to the Ports of Call in the Cook Islands.
Sailing to the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is situated on the Transpacific journey between the US and New Zealand. The yachting season is between May and October. Learn about the sailing formalities and the ports of entry in our Sailing Guide to the Cook Islands.
A Note on Customs Declarations
The Cook Islands has strict biosecurity measures at the border to stop unwanted pests and diseases from entering the country. Therefore, anyone arriving in the Cook Islands has to declare any “risk items” they have packed in their luggage, such as food if you have tried to save money by bringing your own (which probably won’t save much – see our guide to Taking Food to Rarotonga for details). Be sure to read up on Arriving in Rarotonga: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrivals Process so you are prepared.
Check out our complete guide on How to Get to the Cook Islands for even more tips on making your way to the islands.
When to Visit the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a tropical country and experiences warm temperatures throughout the year. It has two distinct seasons, a dry season which is drier and cooler, and a wet season which is hotter and humid. Learn more about the climate in The Cook Islands Weather, Seasons & Climate + Weather by Month.
Dry Season (April to November)
The dry season is also known as the winter season in the Cook Islands, although many would not describe it as winter with temperatures around 19-28°C (66-82°F). The rainfall per month is an average of 102-174mm (4-6.9″). The dry season is also the time for seeing whales, kitesurfing/kiteboarding, clearer scuba diving conditions and catching wahoo.
Wet Season (December to March)
The wet season is hotter and more humid, with temperatures around 21-29°C (70-84°F) and an average monthly rainfall of 174-237mm (6.9-9.3″). This is also the Cook Islands’ cyclone season, which means there’s a risk of cyclones (but only a risk, which you can learn more about in A Guide to Cyclone Safety in the Cook Islands). The wet season is also the best time for catching Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna and Mahimahi, for catching some popular events, and for avoiding other tourists.
The Cheapest Time to Visit the Cook Islands
The low season for tourists is the cheapest time to visit the Cook Islands, which is between January and March. The biggest saving you can make during the low season is on the nightly rate of accommodation. Not only will you see prices change across the months on platforms like Booking.com and Expedia, but many accommodations offer special low season deals on their websites. We’ve seen the difference between low and high season rates be as much as NZ$500! Plus, deals such as “stay five nights, pay for four” are very common at this time of year. See more benefits of visiting in the low season in the 10 Reasons to Travel in the Low Season in the Cook Islands.
Still can’t decide when the best time is to travel to the Cook Islands? Check out our complete guide, The Best Time to Visit the Cook Islands: Best Months to Visit, which dives much deeper into the subject.
What to Pack for the Cook Islands
The main thing you need to keep in mind when packing for the Cook Islands is having a tropical wardrobe that includes some more modest items of clothing for going out for dinner (if you’ve got the budget) and/or visiting a church. A packing list for the Cook Islands might look a little something like this:
- 5 Singlets/T-Shirts
- 1 Blouse/Shirt to cover the shoulders for dinner or church
- 2 Shorts/Skirts
- 1 Light evening dress to impress at dinner
- 1 Dress/Skirt below the knee for church
- 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
- 1 Light jacket/Cardigan/Pashmina for cooler evenings
- 1 Sports shorts/Leggings for hiking
- 1 Sports T-shirt/Singlet for hiking
- 1 Outfit to travel between Rarotonga and home
- 3 Bras including strapless, sports and comfort
- 6 Underwear
- 4 Socks
- 1 Bikini for beach/pool
- 1 One-piece for watersports
- 2 Boardshorts for guys
- 1 Rash vest
- Light shirt to cover arms and back
- Light rain jacket
- Walking shoes
- Reef shoes/Water shoes.
And that’s just the clothes! For a full packing list of everything to take, including accessories and toiletries, check out What to Pack for Rarotonga: FULL Cook Islands Packing List.
With high UV levels and the presence of mosquitos, certain health products are essential to take to the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands also has a fragile marine ecosystem so natural sunscreens and repellents are a must. If going to the outer islands, a reusable water purification bottle is preferable to buying bottled water for obvious environmental reasons. See our health essentials packing list in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for the Cook Islands.
The currency in the Cook Islands is New Zealand Dollars. Most vendors accept Visa and MasterCard, while there are ATMs and options for currency exchange on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Cash is the only way to go on the other outer islands. Get more money tips in What is the Best Way to Pay in the Cook Islands?
Note that the Cook Islands issues its own coins and banknotes that you won’t be able to exchange overseas, so make sure to use them all up unless you want a souvenir.
Travel Documents and Paperwork
Visitors to the Cook Islands do not need a visa but do need a passport that is valid for no less than six months after your intended date of departure (seven days for New Zealand and Australian citizens). There may be other current entry requirements, like vaccination certificates; we keep updates in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands? which can also be found on the Cook Islands Tourism Travel Advisory page.
How Long to Spend in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands might make for an idyllic resort getaway to simply relax for a few days and that’s fine; we all need to R&R from time to time. More intrepid backpackers, however, will find that the Cook Islands is an excellent country not only for minor island-hopping but especially road tripping around the very small islands.
We’d recommend the minimum number of days to spend in the Cook Islands is five days if just visiting Rarotonga. However, 10 to 14 days is the recommended number of days for a satisfying trip to the Cook Islands, especially if you include at least two islands, such as Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
For those of you who want to explore, here’s what you can achieve in certain timeframes… (And don’t worry, we’ll get onto the destinations in the next few sections).
3 Days / A Long Weekend in the Cook Islands
Over 3 days or a long weekend, you have enough time to see the highlights of Rarotonga. Check out Rarotonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 3 Days for a compilation of itineraries.
5 Days in the Cook Islands
5 days gives you more time to comfortably explore one of the Cook Islands’ most popular islands, either Rarotonga or Aitutaki. See Rarotonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days and Aitutaki Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 5 Days for trip ideas.
7 Days / 1 Week in the Cook Islands
Some travellers will find that 7 days is ideal for a mix of adventure and relaxation on either Rarotonga or Aitutaki. Get some inspiration on what to do and where to go from Rarotonga Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 7 Days or Aitutaki Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 7 Days.
10 Days in the Cook Islands
10 days is a comfortable amount of time to enjoy two islands in the Cook Islands, such as Rarotonga and Aitutaki or even more! Check out The Cook Islands Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 10 Days for a laid-back itinerary or The Cook Islands Island-Hopping Itinerary: 10 Days for something more intrepid.
14 Days / 2 Weeks in the Cook Islands
Adventurous travellers can visit multiple atolls in the Cook Islands, or simply enjoy Rarotonga and Aitutaki for longer – there’s plenty to do! See the Cook Islands Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: 14 Days to stick to a tight budget or check out Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu & Mangaia Itinerary: 14 Days or Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mauke & Mitiaro Itinerary: 14 Days for more exploration.
How Long Can You Stay in the Cook Islands?
Visitors to the Cook Islands can stay up to a month! Visitor extensions are available, however, which you can learn more about in our guide, How Long Can You Stay in the Cook Islands on a Visitor Visa?
Which Island to Visit in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is made up of 15 islands split between two island groups, the Southern Group and the Northern Group. The most-visited, easiest and cheapest islands to get to are the ones in the Southern Group, which is where Rarotonga and Aitutaki are located. The Northern Group is some 1,000 km (620 mi) from Rarotonga, requiring a much pricier airfare or charter flight to get to. Nevertheless, those looking for a true South Seas adventure will be truly welcomed on these islands, while paying your way will be some of the cheapest experiences in the Cooks.
Compare some of the most popular and easiest islands to visit in The Best Islands to Visit in the Cook Islands and Which is Better, Rarotonga or Aitutaki?
The Best Islands for Backpacking in the Cook Islands
With no additional airfare required combined with the fact that the island has the only hostel dorms in the Cook Islands, Rarotonga is a good place to start backpacking in the Cook Islands. If you’re willing to pay the extra airfare, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke and Mitiaro all have budget accommodation options, usually with food included, as well as tons of free experiences. See out budget guides for the following:
- The Complete Travel Guide to Rarotonga on a Budget
- The Complete Travel Guide to Aitutaki on a Budget
- The Complete Travel Guide to Atiu on a Budget
- The Complete Travel Guide to Mangaia on a Budget
- The Complete Travel Guide to Mauke
- The Complete Travel Guide to Mitiaro
Note that Atiu isn’t as cheap to visit as the other islands mentioned as its accommodation is a little more pricey and food is an additional cost. Nevertheless, we’ve made a budget guide for the island, as it’s still a spectacular place to visit. Although we haven’t made budget guides for the islands of Mauke and Mitiaro, their accommodations and experiences are still very affordable.
The Northern Cook Islands
For backpackers willing to go on an epic expedition, check out the following travel guides to the Northern Group to find out how to organise visiting:
- Penrhyn Travel Guide – Cooks’ largest lagoon and best craftspeople
- Manihiki Travel Guide – Black pearl producers and stunning lagoon
- Rakahanga Travel Guide – Remote atoll only accessible by boat
- Pukapuka Travel Guide – Village life with sustainable practices
- Nassau Travel Guide – Only accessible by boat from Pukapuka
- Suwarrow Travel Guide – The Cook Islands’ only national park.
Again, be sure to check out The Best Islands to Visit in the Cook Islands for more of a comparison.
How to Get Around the Cook Islands
The distance between islands in the Cook Islands is rather substantial, leaving very few options for island-hopping on a budget. Once you have arrived on each of the islands, however, getting around is made extremely easy and cheap, whether it’s the good public transport system and vehicle rentals on Rarotonga or your hosts on the outer islands simply renting out their car or scooter for you to explore at leisure.
Domestic Flights + Prices
There is one airline in the Cook Islands running scheduled flights between seven islands in the Cook Islands. Flights to any one of the Southern Group islands cost approximately NZ$250-$275 per person one-way. To Manihiki in the north, flights are over NZ$1,500 one-way. Learn more about flights in Your Guide to Interisland Flights.
Car Rental + Prices
Renting a car is the most popular way for travellers to get around each of the islands, whether it’s for ultimate freedom or because it’s the only choice on some of the outer islands. You can usually rent a budget car on Rarotonga for around NZ$57-$65 a day including fuel but not including insurance add-ons. Hiring a car on Aitutaki or the other outer islands is usually NZ$70-$77 per day. Find out everything you need to know about hiring in What You Need to Hire a Car in the Cook Islands and work out your budget using The Cost of Renting a Car in the Cook Islands.
Plus, we have money-saving tips in the 10 Ways to Save Money on Car & Scooter Rental in the Cook Islands.
Scooter Rental + Prices
A popular method for locals to get around, scooters have a lower rental cost and are more fuel-efficient. Note that visitors without a license to ride a motorcycle will need to go through a quick test at Rarotonga Police Station to get their visitor’s scooter license for around NZ$40, making a longer hire duration more cost-effective than just renting for one or two days. For instance, including the scooter license and fuel, it costs around NZ$79 to hire a scooter for one day or NZ$29 per day to hire a scooter for a week. See the 10 Tips for Riding a Scooter in the Cook Islands to start your research, as well as a cost breakdown in Scooter Hire on Rarotonga: Where to Rent, Cost & More.
Again, we have money-saving tips in the 10 Ways to Save Money on Car & Scooter Rental in the Cook Islands, if you’re interested.
Bicycles and E-Bikes + Prices
While it’s pretty tough going to ride around the whole of Rarotonga (32 km/20 mi), bicycles and e-bikes are an affordable option for riding from A to B with plenty of time on your hands. Prices for pushbikes are around NZ$15-$25 per day on Rarotonga or NZ$0-$20 on the outer islands. Check out Cycle Rarotonga & the Cook Islands: Where to Rent Bikes & E-Bikes for more information.
Rarotonga Bus + Prices
Rarotonga is the only island in the Cooks with a bus service. It is a cheap and frequent service with two buses revolving around the island in opposite directions at the same time. The cost is NZ$5 for a one-way ticket, but all-day passes and multi-ride tickets are available. Check it out in The Bus in Rarotonga: Bus Fares, Timetable & More.
Hitchhiking is legal in the Cook Islands. However, it is one of the least reliable forms of transport because you’re likely to be waiting a while for a ride, especially on the outer islands where there’s very little traffic. Nevertheless, it’s quite the adventure if you can make it work! Learn more about hitchhiking in A Travellers’ Guide to Hitchhiking in the Cook Islands.
While those are the main ways to get around the Cook Islands, you can dive into all of your options, including the reason why we haven’t mentioned cargo boats, in the Cook Islands Transport Guide: 15 Ways to Get Around the Cook Islands.
Where to Stay: Cheap Accommodation in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands has a broad and impressive range of holiday accommodations but most of these are in the mid-range to the luxury market. Nevertheless, there are a few budget options if you know where to look.
Discover the cheapest accommodations across the Cook Islands in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in the Cook Islands and see how to find cheap stays in How to Find Cheap Accommodation in the Cook Islands.
Backpacker Hostels + Prices
There are a couple of backpacker hostels on Rarotonga that come complete with dorm rooms, as well as private rooms with communal bathrooms, kitchens and a garden/beach. The typical cost of dorm rooms in Rarotonga is between NZ$20 and $30 per bed per night. Private rooms are around NZ$50-$100. See all of Rarotonga’s backpacker stays in the 5 Best Backpacker Hostels in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Guesthouses + Prices
Guesthouses typically consist of private guest rooms with shared facilities like a kitchen and bathroom. While there is the odd guesthouse on Rarotonga and two on Aitutaki, guesthouses are just about the only accommodation you’ll find on the outer islands of Mitiaro, Pukapuka and Penrhyn. The plus side of these outer-island guesthouses is that all meals are included in their reasonable fees of NZ$100-$150 per night. Check out the Cook Islands’ guesthouses in the 10 Best Guesthouses in the Cook Islands.
Note that there are also a couple of homestays on Mitiaro that are similar to guesthouses. You can learn more about them in The Best Homestays in the Cook Islands.
Motels + Prices
Yes, motels are a thing in Rarotonga and Aitutaki and are basically just cheaper versions of resorts with facilities like a spa pool or swimming pool. You may or may not get self-catering facilities in your room. Rates range from NZ$125 to $180 per room per night. See the 10 Best Motels in the Cook Islands for more details on facilities.
Budget Apartments, Bungalows and Resorts + Prices
The final category of cheap accommodation in Rarotonga and Aitutaki should just be “miscellaneous”, as they come in a variety of forms: apartments, beach bungalows, garden bungalows and even one resort on Rarotonga can be classed as “budget”. Rates for these budget accommodations can be anywhere between NZ$90 to $180 per night. It’s best to go to the 10 Best Budget Accommodations in the Cook Islands to start learning about these different styles of cheap stays.
Can You Go Camping in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands?
As a visitor, you cannot go camping in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands as it is a condition of entry into the country is to have booked accommodation. Plus, there are no accommodations in the Cook Islands offering sites to pitch a tent. Learn more about entry conditions in Do You Need a Visa to Visit the Cook Islands?
Free and Cheap Things to Do in the Cook Islands
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to do in the Cook Islands than drink cocktails and sit by the pool. The Cook Islands exceeds in adventure, relaxation and culture, providing a generous mix of water and inland experiences. There’s so much to do that we could hardly fit it all into our 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands!
Free Things to Do in the Cook Islands
When it comes to free experiences, you won’t be hardpressed to enjoy priceless ways to fill your time in the Cook Islands. Some of the biggest highlights can be enjoyed free of charge, such as:
- Snorkelling – Snorkel in the lagoons straight from shore
- Hiking – Rarotonga’s interior is awash in jungle and mountain hikes
- Natural attractions – Explore caves, waterfalls, rock formations and more
- Historical sites – See the remains of ancient marae
- Art galleries – Be inspired!
- Kayaking & SUP – Free if they are included in your accommodation (or cheap to hire)
- Church service – Listen to beautiful choir singing
- Whale watching from shore – Between July and October.
Check out a complete list of freebies in the 20 Free Things to Do in the Cook Islands.
Other Activities in the Cook Islands (If You Have the Budget)
- Swimming with turtles – Join snorkelling tours to prime turtle habitat
- Lagoon cruises – Visit uninhabited islets, snorkel and enjoy delicious local food
- Scuba diving – Choose from tens of dives sites, from coral formations to caves
- Kitesurfing – There are flat lagoons and ideal trade winds for kitesurfing
- Game fishing – The South Pacific’s largest pelagics can be caught
- Whale watching – Take boat tours to watch or snorkel with whales between July and October
- Surfing – Hit uncrowded reef breaks on Rarotonga
- Culture tours – Learn how to make Cook Islander food, take part in traditions and more
- Island nights – Cultural show with local food
- Markets – Delight in street food and browse local handicrafts
- Shopping – Rarotonga provides the opportunity to buy black pearls and all sorts of amazing crafts
- 4WD tours – Self-drive quad and buggy tours
- Island tours – Explore the island with a local guide
- Spa treatments – Visit a day spa or get a massage in your villa.
Again, start making your bucket list with the 101 Best Things to Do in the Cook Islands. Or, if you’re just visiting Raro, check out the 50 Best Things to Do on Rarotonga.
Food in the Cook Islands
All kinds of cuisine are represented in the Cook Islands, especially on Rarotonga which is best described as “island cosmopolitan”. What’s more, self-catering is easy to manage with grocery stores found on most islands that people visit. Whether you decide to eat out, self-cater or a bit of both, we have budgeting advice for you in the 15 Ways to Save Money on Food in the Cook Islands.
Restaurants and Cafes
Restaurants serve international dishes, including Asian, European and American, while local dishes are best tried at “island nights” or on certain food tours. There are a few cafes and restaurants on Aitutaki, while food is experienced on the outer islands through your hosts’ homecooked meals. For the cheapest eats in the islands, check out The Top Cheap Eats on Rarotonga and The Top Cheap Eats on Aitutaki.
Self-catering is made easy on Rarotonga and Aitutaki with plenty of accommodations with cooking facilities, as well as supermarkets, convenience stores and roadside fruit stalls to pick up supplies. Check out the A Guide to Food Shopping in the Cook Islands for everything you need to know about a self-catering holiday. Plus, check out The Cost of Food in the Cook Islands for restaurant and grocery store prices.
Vegetarian options are widely available across Rarotonga but less so on other islands. More specific dietry needs, like veganism and coeliacs, are tougher to cater for. Check out our advice in The Cook Islands for Vegans & Vegetarians, as well as The Gluten-Free Guide to the Cook Islands.
Food and Water Safety
Most tourist accommodations on Rarotonga and Aitutaki have access to safe drinking water, whether it’s tap water through a UV-filtration system or a jug of filtered water at reception. There are also filtered and treated public water stations on the roadsides. Finding clean drinking water on the outer islands is a little more challenging. See Is the Water Safe to Drink in the Cook Islands? for more advice. Food in the Cook Islands is generally cooked to safe hygiene standards, so there’s not much to worry about there, but check out Cook Islands Safety Tips for additional advice.
What Food to Try
And what are the foods worth trying in the Cook Islands? Look out for the items listed in the 10 Foods to Try in the Cook Islands and 10 Drinks in the Cook Islands You HAVE to Try!
For all things “food” in the Cook Islands, including markets to attend, foodie tours, restaurant recommendations and more, head to The Food Guide to the Cook Islands: Places to Eat, Food Tours & More.
Typical Costs and Budget for a Trip to the Cook Islands
We all travel very differently. Therefore, making a precise budget for everyone is an impossible task. Nevertheless, you can work out your own needs, thus budget, by simply looking at the typical prices listed below or in our article, How Much Does a Trip to Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Cost?
The Cost of Accommodation
- Dorm bed/night – NZ$20-$35
- Guesthouse private room/night – NZ$60-$200
- Budget resort ensuite room/night – NZ$130-$220
- Mid-range resort ensuite room/night – NZ$230-$550
- Self-contained double room/night – NZ$160-$550
- Self-contained family room/night – NZ$230-$1,100
- Family holiday home/night – NZ$230-$760
The Cost of Food
- Main breakfast meal – NZ$10-$29
- Main lunch meal – NZ$15-$35
- Main dinner meal – NZ$14-$49
- Island night buffet and show – NZ$60-$130
- Small coffee – NZ$5-$6
- Bottle of beer – NZ$6.50-$8
- Glass of wine – NZ$12
- Cocktail – NZ$11-$21
- Mocktail/Smoothie – NZ$7-$16
- Soft drink – NZ$5-$6
The cost of supermarket food can be found in The Cost of Food in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
The Cost of Tours and Activities
- Guided hike – NZ$25-$80
- Spa treatment/1hr massage – NZ$80-$150
- Buggy/quad bike tour – NZ$125-$150
- Guided island tour – NZ$60-$70
- Museum entry – NZ$5-$15
- Outer islands cave tour – NZ$30-$70
- Snorkel hire/day – NZ$0-$10
- SUP or kayak hire/1hr– NZ$15-$20
- Lagoon cruise – NZ$79-$160
- Swimming with turtles – NZ$80-$160
- Snorkel tour – NZ$60-$160
- Fishing charter/shared– NZ$200
- Scuba dive/intro dive – NZ$200-$220
The Cost of Transport
- Bicycle rental/day – NZ$10-$25
- Visitor’s Scooter Licence – NZ$40
- Scooter rental/day – NZ$24-$30
- Car rental/day – NZ$40-$80
- Rarotonga bus/one-way trip – NZ$5
- Taxi/kilometre – NZ$3+
- Airport transfers/person – NZ$0-$36
- Aitutaki water taxi – NZ$35-$80
- Flight/Rarotonga to Southern Group – NZ$250-$275
- Flight/Rarotonga to Northern Group – NZ$1,600
Spending Money for the Cook Islands
Here are a few averages for a daily budget for Rarotonga and the Cook Islands. These include food, activities, transport and miscellaneous expenses. Each price is per person per day:
- Backpacker daily budget: NZ$90
- Budget daily budget: NZ$130
- Mid-range daily budget: NZ$250
- Luxury daily budget: NZ$460+
We break down the budgets further in How Much Spending Money Do You Need for the Cook Islands?
More About Backpacking and Travelling on a Budget in the Cook Islands
That’s it for our complete backpacking and budget guide to the Cook Islands but is by no means the end of our vacation advice! Check out the following guides for more essential budget tips:
- 20 Tips to Save Money in the Cook Islands
- 15 Ways to Save Money on Food in the Cook Islands
- Is Rarotonga & the Cook Islands Expensive?
And if you simply can’t get enough Cook Islands wisdom, head over to the 30 Tips for Travelling in Rarotonga & the Cook Islands.
Happy travels and thanks for checking out this budget and backpacking guide to the Cook Islands!