Cook Islands Transport Guide

Most visitors to the Cook Islands arrive by air at Rarotonga International Airport. Air Rarotonga provides domestic services between Rarotonga and the outer islands, including Aitutaki. Scenic flights are available and these are an excellent way of getting to see the other islands.

Air Rarotonga: phone 22 888 or visit


For yachts finding their way into Cook Islands waters, Avatiu Harbour is the official port.

Getting around the main island of Rarotonga is easy – the island is just 32km in circumference. The motorbike is one of the most popular modes of transport for visitors and locals alike, and scootcars and bicycles can also be rented. The level roads are ideal for cycling. Please ride single-file on motorbikes and bicycles, as riding two-abreast can cause traffic accidents. Several companies have sedans, open-top jeeps and classic cars for hire at reasonable rates. Selected accommodation places may also provide courtesy transport to attractions.

Taxi services are offered by local operators – fares are about NZ$4.00 per kilometre. Taxis are generally available from 6am till 12pm, but can be arranged in advance for other hours.

Buses are a low-cost way to travel to town, or to see the sights around the island. Cooks Buses can pick you up or drop you off anywhere on request. Buses depart town from Cooks Corner Depot on the hour clockwise from 7am-4pm, and 25 minutes past the hour anti-clockwise from 8.25am-4.30pm, Monday to Saturday. Night-time buses depart Cooks Corner from 6pm-11pm on the hour Monday-Thursday & Saturday. Friday nights, the bus departs town Clockwise only, from 6pm-10pm and 12am-2am on the hour. There are no anti-clockwise night buses. Sunday bus departs town clockwise, from 8am-12pm and 2pm-4pm on the hour. There are no night buses on Sunday.
Bus Ticket Costs: Adult one way is $4 and return is $6.  Child $2 one way and return $3. Day Family Pass $25 (2 adults, 2 children) - this expires on the last bus departure at 11pm. Day Pass $15 per person. 10 Concession Tickets $22.

Driving Fact File 

  • Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and drivers of all vehicles are required to have a current Cook Islands drivers licence.
  • A licence is available for $10 from the Police Station in downtown Avarua, when you present your own driver’s licence. If you wish to ride a motorbike while in the Cook Islands and your driver’s licence does not specify that you can ride a motorbike, you will be required to undertake a practical driving test. This is an additional cost of NZ$5.65.
  • The speed limit on the open road (outside of populated areas) is 60km/h and in restricted areas (towns and villages), the speed zone is reduced; town is 30km/h and villages are 40km/h. 
  • As in any country, we ask that you follow the rules of general road safety: always be aware of pedestrians, watch out for our pets on the road and stay within the speed limit at all times. Although it is not currently law, if you feel safer, wear a helmet and use your seatbelt.

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