Do you or someone you know need help?
If you are in Australia
Call 1300 555 135
If you are overseas
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
A volcano erupted on White Island, New Zealand on 9 December 2019. Follow the instructions of local authorities. Updates are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.
Call 1300 555 135
Call +61 2 6261 3305
text +61 421 269 080
We haven't changed our level of advice:
Exercise normal safety precautions in the Cook Islands.
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
The crime rate is low in the Cook Islands. However, sometimes thieves target travellers. Watch your belongings.
Thieves target items:
Occasionally, travellers are assaulted. Look out for suspicious behaviour.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Transport and tour operators don't always follow safety and maintenance standards. This includes:
If you plan to do an adventure activity:
If proper safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Some swimmers have died because of strong tides and breaks in the reefs.
Ask local residents and tour operators about safe areas for swimming and water sports.
There are no lifeguards on beaches.
If there's a natural disaster or warning:
If you're travelling after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator or airline to find out if services are affected.
Cyclone season is from November to April. Tropical storms and cyclones can happen in any month.
The direction and strength of cyclones can change suddenly.
Tropical storms and cyclones can:
If there's a cyclone or severe tropical storm:
Monitor weather updates and warnings:
If a cyclone is approaching:
The Cook Islands can experience earthquakes and tsunamis.
Evacuation signs in Rarotonga will direct you if there's a tsunami alert.
If there's an earthquake or a tsunami alert:
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to take medication, check if it's legal in the Cook Islands. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Cases of disease spread by mosquitoes include:
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from disease:
If you're pregnant, discuss travel plans and health risks with your doctor before you travel.
Waterborne, foodborne, parasitic and other infectious diseases are found in Cook Islands.
To protect yourself from illness:
Get medical advice if you suspect food poisoning or have a fever or diarrhoea.
Medical facilities are limited, especially on outer islands.
Treatment can be expensive. Hospitals and medical facilities may ask for payment before treating you. Check the Health services fee schedule.
You may need to be evacuated to New Zealand or Australia if you become seriously ill or injured. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
No hyperbaric or decompression chambers are available. If you need to be treated for decompression sickness, you'll be evacuated to the nearest treatment centre in New Zealand.
Registered dive companies carry basic treatment equipment to meet Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) standards.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for carrying or using even small amounts of illegal drugs are severe. They may include fines and prison sentences.
Same-sex sexual activity or 'acts of indecency' between men is illegal in the Cook Islands. Penalties include prison sentences of up to 7 years.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Standards of dress and behaviour are modest.
Be careful not to offend, especially outside resort areas.
Ask for local advice if you're unsure of any customs.
You don't need visa for a tourist visit of up to 30 days.
In other situations, you'll need a visa.
Entry and exit conditions can change. Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration on +682 29 347 for the details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
To enter the Cook Islands, you'll need to show proof of:
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Cook Islands has 2 official currencies:
Cook Islands dollars can only be exchanged in the Cook Islands.
The bank at the airport can change currency.
Most shops and hotels accept credit cards.
ATMs are limited outside Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
Before you leave, ask your bank if your cards will work overseas.
You can use a valid Australian driver's licence for up to 6 months.
You can only drive vehicles covered by your licence. For example, with an Australian car licence you can drive a car but not a motor scooter.
If you're staying longer than 6 months, you can get a Cook Islands driver's licence from the Cook Islands Police Department in Rarotonga.
Driving can be dangerous, particularly at night.
Hazards include poorly maintained roads, line markings and street lighting.
If you plan to drive in the Cook Islands, check local traffic laws and practices.
Motorcyclists are hospitalised after many traffic accidents.
You can get a temporary motorbike or motor scooter licence in the Cook Islands. To apply, you must:
Queues can be long. Be prepared to wait.
Always wear a helmet.
If you don't follow the local laws, your insurance policy may not cover you.
If you want to ride a motorbike:
Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines. Arrange one through your hotel or resort.
Limited buses are available on Rarotonga.
Public transport is limited on other islands.
Travel by boat can be dangerous.
Passenger ferry services can be overcrowded and cancelled at short notice.
To reduce your risk on boats:
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call Rarotonga Hospital on 22 664 or email MOHsupport@cookislands.gov.ck
Call 22 499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Check the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australia doesn't have an embassy or consulate in the Cook Islands.
For consular help, contact the Australian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand.
Check the High Commission's website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In an emergency, the New Zealand High Commission provides consular help to Australians in the Cook Islands.
It can't issue Australian passports.
1st floor, Philatelic Bureau Building
Avarua (PO Box 21)
Phone: (+682) 22 201
Fax: (+682) 21 241
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 8am to 4pm
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.