Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Cook Islands Avarua



Avarua Harbour Rarotonga

Avarua Harbour Rarotonga

© dadmin

Avarua on Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands and has a total population of around 2,700 inhabitants. It is located in the north of Rarotonga Island. It is the main commercial centre on the islands and apart from some hotels and supermarkets it is a centre for trade and fishing. On Saturday there is a big open market where you can buy some handicrafts as well as your daily needs. The town hasn't got much more to offer, but obviously this is not the place to go when you are visiting the Cook Islands, but the international airport is located here, meaning you will find yourself in or around town for a day or so, before flying to for example Aitutaki.



Sights and Activities

  • National Museum of the Cook Islands



Events and Festivals

  • Punanganui Market - Early on Saturday morning is the best time to visit this outdoor market. There are plenty of locally produced arts and crafts, pearls and clothing. The market is a great place to sample some of the local Cook Island dishes, including home baked coconut, rolls and locally caught fish. The market closes at noon.
  • Turama - Turama is the local celebration of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, which sees family members decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers and candles. People gather in cemeteries and share stories, usually after attending a requiem mass at the Avarua Cathedral. While not exactly a festive occasion, this November 1 event is an important part of the Cook Islands culture.



Getting There

By Plane

Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) is 3 kilometres west of Avarua. There are only a few airlines flying to the Cook Islands and their routes are subject to change.

By Bus

The bus stop is at Cooks Corner in Avarua and the starting point for the two services. One runs clockwise around the island, the other anti-clockwise.

By Boat

There are no regular boat services to Avarua. Several cruise ships anchor in the Cook Islands each year, visiting Avarua.



Getting Around

By Car

Hiring a car in Avarua is fairly simple. There are several agencies such as Avis and Budget, but you might prefer to favour a locally owned company which have better prices. As the island is small, the better way to see it is by hiring a scooter. These are widely available in Avarua and around the island. For cars or scooters, you will require a local Cook Islands driving licence. These can be bought from the police station in the town and cost NZ$20 (2009 price).

By Foot

Avarua is a small town and walking is the best option.

By Bike

When in the town, park the bike and walk between the various shops and attractions.



Eat and Drink

Avarua has plenty of places to eat. Trader Jack's is set right on the water with an bar and restaurant open to the elements. Close by are The Steps bar and for evening meals only, Portifino's.




Although Avarua is the capital of the island, almost all of the accommodation is situated elsewhere on the island. Don't be misled by seeing a P.O. box address in Avarua for accommodation, as the actual location is unlikely to be in the town.



Keep Connected


Internet connections on Rarotonga work at only 256k speed and there are public access points. Many, but not all, resorts and hotels offer an internet connection. These are timed and currently nobody offers unlimited time. The main reason for this, is that internet connections on the island are measured by download volume. There are some wireless wi-fi access points in the main town and a number of the cafes around the island offer internet access, either wireless of more likely on their own machines.

The Telecom office in Avarua is open daily from 7:00am to 11:00pm. There are internet computers available for use, plus a wi-fi node. The office can sell pre-paid wi-fi cards, which are based on multiples of 50Mb download and priced from NZ$15. Once a card is started, it will expire after 30 days.

Zenbus offer the largest coverage of WiFi hotspots on Rarotonga and is priced at NZ 0.30c per MB.


See also International Telephone Calls

The cheapest way to make international calls is to buy a Kia Orana Card from the Telecom office. Available in units of NZ$10, 20 and 50, calls can then be made from any landline telephone or public phone box. There are also telephones which can be used at the Telecom office, which is open 24 hours a day. The Kia Orana card offers calls to New Zealand at a rate of NZ5 per hour and to Australia, Fiji, Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom for NZ$10 per hour.

Using a public telephone box and a credit card is the most expensive way to make calls, with rates in the region of NZ$10 per minute to the United Kingdom.

Cellphone cards can be purchased at the Telecom office, but your phone will generally need to be unlocked. SIM cards are NZ$25 and you can top up in multiples of NZ$5 up to NZ$100.

Gradually, Telecom are adding international roaming and several options exist.


The post office on Rarotonga is situated in Avarua. The office is open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday to Friday. The Telepost office also in Avarua is open the same hours, plus Saturday mornings and offers stamps plus postcards. Postage is quite cheap (in comparison to New Zealand). A postcard to NZ costs NZ$0.80c to Europe NZ$0.90c



  1. 1 Air Tahiti Website (Sourced:Feb 10, 2011)


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This is version 15. Last edited at 10:06 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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