How to get to the Cook Islands

Cook Islands location map

The unspoiled beauty of the Cook Islands is in no small part due to their remoteness. But that doesn't mean they're isolated from the rest of the world. With a bit of careful planning, they're accessible from wherever you live. 

That said, it has become less easy post-Covid to get there by air from the USA and Europe as Air New Zealand no longer has a service out of Los Angeles which was a popular hub. But there are now direct flights from Sydney, Australia and from Honolulu in addition to those from the long standing gateway of Auckland, New Zealand . Cook Islands Tourism hope both new routes will make it easier for US and European travellers to reach the islands and the Sydney flight has significantly boosted visitor numbers from Australia.

The Covid vaccination requirement for entry has now been dropped and all islands are open.

All flights are to the capital island, Rarotonga. If you want to visit the other islands, click the button below for information about where it's practical to visit and where it's not impossible but quite difficult


IMPORTANT NOTE: The information on this page is for guidance only and is provided in good faith. Airlines sometimes change their schedules without much warning, so always check with them for up to date details


This is still the most used route although the Cook Islands government is concerned about the high cost of the Air New Zealand flights.

It typically takes 3 hours 45 minutes outbound and around four and a half hours on the return leg if you depart from Auckland. Remember also that you'll "gain" or "lose" a day as you cross the international dateline, depending on your direction of travel. And the reverse will happen on your return journey. Air New Zealand are operating flights at least once a day. They also have services from Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown which connect in Auckland, and a service to Aitutaki via Rarotonga with the domestic leg flown by Air Rarotonga

Air New Zealand aircraft Jestar plane for Sydney Rarotonga

Low cost Australian carrier, Jetstar (the budget arm of Qantas) has resumed its flights between Auckland and Rarotonga. They operate three times a week, departing Auckland Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Photos are the airlines' own and not necessarily representative of the aircraft type operated on the Rarotonga route


Several cruise lines often have one or more of the Cook Islands on their itineraries (most often Rarotonga) and travel agents and operators can advise you about this.​  The Islands are also popular with yachties. Entry by sea is allowed only through the designated ports of entry which  are currently: ​​Rarotonga (Avatiu and Avarua Wharfs), Aitutaki, Atiu, Manihiki (Tukao and Tauhuna Wharfs), Pukapuka and Penrhyn.  These are subject to change and indeed have changed several times since Covid. There are severe penalties for unauthorised entry.

For the latest health controls information, go to the Cook Islands Government website   More information for marine craft is here.  Visiting yachts must also comply with entry and departure laws. Contact the Cook Islands Customs Service for details and advice