Getting Around the Cook Islands

Getting around Cook Islands is not difficult. The Island has only one main road with just two roundabouts and no traffic lights. Drivers are advised to always drive on the left hand-side and at an average speed of not more than 50kph. Have a free day and want to go on a light adventure down the beaten path? Or you’re just the type not to go with guided tours? These are some of the common modes of transportation to get around the Island.

Driving in Cook Islands

It doesn’t matter what your travel destination is, but in Cook Islands, you will need a form of transport. You have to be 16 years or older and have a valid driver’s license in order to drive in Cook Islands. International tourists aged 16 years and above can drive on the Island using their licenses on the basis that it isn’t revoked, expired or disqualified at that moment. With an overseas license, you will be limited to driving only a class of motor vehicle that you are entitled to in your country. It should also be written in English or translated accordingly.

Motor scooters remain the most popular way to travel around, however, cars, bikes and jeeps can be rented from various agencies. Exploring Cook Islands by motorcycle is one of the simplest yet so entertaining experiences. You can stop for shopping or swimming at the craft stores across the Island. With Island being quite spacious and with a lot of amenities, you can check into a café for a bite and drink, it all depends on your preferences!

Using Public Transportation

The area has a good bus service with both Clockwise and Anti-clockwise routes. For Clockwise routes, the bus starts from Avarua and runs for an hour, while for Anti-clockwise routes, the bus goes for half-hour. These services are very dependable and give a unique experience of exploring Cook Islands. To enjoy the ride, you will pay only NZD$5 for one trip. There are however, other price offers that can accommodate a higher number of trips.

Riding a Scooter

If there is a motorcycle class on your license, you don’t have to sit for a test to get your Cook Islands driver’s license. You just have to pay NZ$20 at any police station within the area to be issued with a visitor license. It is important to note that visitor’s licenses are only be valid for up to 31 days.

If there is a motorcycle class on your license and you’re interested in hiring a scooter, you will undertake a driving test at Cook Islands Police Station. For that, you will need to provide two forms of identification when you apply for the visitor’s license. These are your passport and current valid license from home country. The documents must be valid and in their original form.

Being a visitor, you must wear a safety helmet while using a motorcycle in Cook Islands. The rule strictly applies to Rarotonga Island and doesn’t apply to those using motorcycles in outer Islands. Anyone needing to sit a test drive a motorcycle must wear a crash helmet during the driving test.


Given the fact that main roads on the Island are flat, cycling around is very easy. Many hotels on Cook Islands will have bicycles ready on a first come basis. However, if you want to be assured of getting one, hire it in advance. When on a guided tour in the area, you can get bikes on rental basis. Bicycles are recommended especially when you want to tour remote areas of the Island that are far from your hotel room.

Other Ways to Get Around

If you wish to explore the interior of the Island on foot, there is a guided tour walk. If you aren’t energetic enough, there is a safari truck that can take you through the rain forests and onto the mountains. You can also enjoy the aerial scenery with a 20 minute flight from the main Island airport.

Hiring Vehicles

Hiring a motorcycle or a car is recommended if you plan on exploring any of the Islands in the region. Bikes, scooters and cars can be hired anywhere on the Island. You can hire them from places like Avis, Polynesian Rentals, Raro Cars, Pacific Cars among others. When in Aitutaki area, you can hire cars from Rino’s Rentals, Boat Shed, Ranginui’s Retreat among others.

Being an Island, road conditions in this area might be a little different from those in your country. For that reason, maximum speeds on Cook Islands are 50Kph for cars .There are 30km speed zones in Muri village and throughout Avarua township. For motorcycles and motor scooters, the maximum speed is 40kph and a crash helmet must always be worn by occupants. Around schools, the maximum speed is 20kph.

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