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THE ULTIMATE 10-DAY COOK ISLANDS ITINERARY THE ULTIMATE 10-DAY COOK ISLANDS ITINERARY
Kiwis finally have a date to plan a Cook Islands getaway around! To help plan your own magical trip, Avis New Zealand has pulled together the ultimate 10-day Cook Islands itinerary, taking in three different islands and striking the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.
Rarotonga (Days 1 - 4)
Known for its laid-back attitude, Rarotonga is the capital and the largest island in the southern group of the Cook Islands. With a hot, humid climate, juggling luggage on public transport with a family can be an overwhelming experience so hiring a car allows you the freedom and flexibility to hop from resort to beach and back again with ease.
Simply hop off the plane and collect your rental car from Avis at the airport. Visitors from New Zealand can drive in the Cook Islands on their current full overseas license for up to six months.
Rarotonga is the perfect location for both the adventurer and the relaxer with activities to satisfy both. There are two main roads on the island, one takes you via the Ara Tapu sealed road through the villages and past coconut palm fringed beaches, or you can take the older inland road which winds through fields of taro, pawpaw, banana plantations and local farmland.
If it’s R&R you’re after, head to Aroa Beach, a sheltered, marine reserve located on the South-Western part of the island which is perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. Another underrated option is Black Rock Beach on the Western side of Rarotonga. Only a short drive past the airport, Black Rock is the perfect spot to finish a book or two and a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
Encircled by a reef and lagoon, water-based activities are on offer everywhere in Rarotonga, from snorkeling with reef fish at the Muri Lagoon to whale watching, fishing and scuba diving.
Rarotonga is also a walker’s paradise with a range of tracks to choose from across the island. The most popular, and rewarding, is the four-hour Cross-Island Track which includes hiking through rainforest and tropical scenery up to the 413mTe Rua Manga (the Needle), where you can take in breathtaking, 360-degree views.
Finally, for the ultimate cultural performance head to Te Vara Nui Village for dinner and a show where some of the Cook Island’s best dancers perform to ‘The Legend of Tongaiti’ before dropping your car off at the airport and hopping on a plane to Aitutaki the next morning.
Aitutaki (Days 5 – 7)
Google ‘lagoon’ and you’ll find hundreds of pictures of Aitutaki (often described as ‘Heaven on Earth’) and the second most visited island in the Cook Islands. Aitutaki is the ideal place to spend three to four days to unplug and truly de-stress, free from the hustle and bustle of the tourist hotspots.
Aitutaki is made up of a triangular-shaped reef surrounding a bright turquoise lagoon containing 15 small motus (islets). The crystal-clear water is home to an array of tropical fish and pristine white-sand beaches.
Secluded and romantic, it is a popular choice for honeymooners. You can look forward to languid, leisurely days reveling in each other’s company and enjoying the jaw-dropping surroundings. Work on your suntan lazing under a coconut palm, relax with a massage or explore the island by bike or scooter.
Fancy kayaking to a fine white sandy beach that you can have all to yourselves? Hire your own boat and set a course for Maina, Honeymoon Island, or One Foot Island – where visitors can get their passport stamped at the world’s smallest post office. Several tour operators cruise daily to these motu (small islands) and surrounding islets, stopping off at popular snorkeling spots abundant with colourful fish, turtles, and coral clusters.
The main island, dwarfed by the vast lagoon, offers gorgeous places to stay for all budgets, from overwater bungalows to family-friendly resorts and private villas.
After spending a few days relaxing on Aitutaki, take a flight to one of the Cook Islands’ smaller, sister islands for an adventure you will never forget.
Atiu (Days 8 – 9)
Home to approximately 400 proud warrior people, there are few untouched places left in the world like Atiu. Known as the land of birds, Atiu is a 45-minute flight from Aitutaki. About half the size of Rarotonga, Atiu is over eight million years old and receives less than 50 visitors each month. It is ancient, remote, and lush with dense rainforests, coastal bush, and secluded coves with white sand beaches.
Ensure to allow at least two days to explore the cycle trails and hike through the tropical rainforest.
For the nature enthusiasts, Atiu is home to a variety of interesting native plants and birds including the recently reintroduced Kura (Rimatara lorikeet), once endangered Kakerori, and the unique cave dwelling native Kopeka.
Some of the best Arabica coffee in the Pacific Rim is organically grown in Atiu making coffee tastings at the local coffee factory a must-do! Other experiences on offer, include cave exploration, and the 'tumunu' - the evening traditional bush beer school.
From Atiu fly 45 minutes back to Rarotonga for a day of shopping before heading home.
For those looking to travel round the Islands, Avis has launched its Avis Safety Pledge to enhance all cleaning and sanitising procedures to keep customers and employees safe.
Avis is the only internationally recognised car rental company in Rarotonga, with three handy locations for you to collect and return your rental car: Avarua Town, Muri Village, and Rarotonga International Airport.