Tips for Visitors

Q: I heard food is expensive in Rarotonga.  Should I pack a chilly bin to bring on my holiday?

A: This is not true, the price of common grocery items and fresh meat in Supermarkets are comparable with Supermarkets in NZ.  Remember an extra bag can cost you $75 so leave the chilly bin behind and enjoy the local cuisine. Night Markets operate throughout the week offering a wide range of cooked food for under $15 a plate.   Many grocery items are actually cheaper in Rarotonga.  See below for some examples.

(pricing subject to change)

 NZ Supermarket Price  Rarotonga Supermarket Price
Lamb shoulder chops $12.99 kg $10.50 kg
Rump steak $19.99 kg $19.50 kg
Skinless Chicken Breast $17.99 kg $12.70 kg
Chicken Thigh Fillets Skinless $17.50 kg $9.50 kg
Mainland Cheese Block 250gm $6.09 $5.70
WeetBix 375gm $3.69 $3.50
Treasures Nappies 18pk $10.00 $12.90

Q: Why are fizzy drinks so expensive?

A: The Cook Islands was one of the first countries in the world to introduce a sugar tax on fizzy drinks as a health initiative to help reduce diabetes. The higher the sugar content, the higher the tax. Price comparison is shown below for Coke 1.5ltr and Pump 1.25ltr water which highlights the tax difference.

Full flavour Coke           Diet Coke              Coke Zero              Pump 1.25ml

     $6.50                             $3.90                     $3.90                      $ 3.50

Enjoy the fizzy, not the sugar and even better drink water!

Q. How much does it cost to see a doctor on Rarotonga?

A: There are only a small number of doctors on the island, however the Rarotonga Hospital offers 24 hour walk in service.  A standard appointment for a non-Cook Islands resident will cost $50. The hospital has a pharmacy that dispenses basic medication however, this will incur an additional cost. Additional or specialized medication can be obtained at CITC Pharmacy.

Q: I left important medication on the bed at home and I have run out of my regular prescription medication, what can I do?

A: CITC Pharmacy is the only retail pharmacy with a NZ qualified pharmacist which offers a full range of medications for all your pharmaceutical needs. They can easily arrange an emergency supply for you.  Contact them on +682 29292 or email if you have lost or forgotten to bring your medication, or are looking at relocating to the Cook Islands. Their staff can also assist you with basic first aid requirements if you fall off your scooter or graze yourself on coral.  For more information, see the CITC Pharmacy page.

Q: Does the Cook Islands have any mosquito borne diseases?

A:  Mosquito borne diseases are not an ongoing issue in the Cook Islands.  From time to time there may be an outbreak during the wet season. You can track these outbreaks through the World Health Organisation or the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention websites or contact our NZ qualified pharmacist on +682 29292 or for more information.

Q: We are traveling with a baby, should we bring all baby needs with us or are they available on the Island?

A: CITC Supermarket stocks a great range of baby food, formula, nappies, wipes and lots of other baby products. CITC Pharmacy also carries formula and baby accessories such as swim nappies, pacifiers, bottles, teething beads and nappy rash cream. Prices are similar to NZ prices.

Q: Should I purchase my Duty Free before I arrive in the Cook Islands?

A: Duty Free stores are open for all International flights, no matter what time.  The Airport Duty Free prices are competitive, and, in most lines are cheaper than NZ.   NZ Currency is the currency used in the Cook Islands.

For more information on what’s available, check out the CITC Duty Free page.  Save space on board the plane, purchase what you need on arrival or pre-order by emailing CITC Duty Free at

Q: I am arriving in Rarotonga very early in the AM, is there anywhere open where I can pick up essentials?

A: Yes. turn left from the airport and call into Oasis Petrol Station/Store, open 24 hours 7 days a week and only 2 minutes from the airport.  See the Oasis page for more information.

Q:  Are there popular brands available?

A: Yes, CITC Supermarket, Foodland and Oasis all carry your favorite New Zealand Brands such as Watties, Coca-Cola, Anchor, Pams and the Budget brand, CITC Avarua, carries popular brands such as NIKE, ADIDAS, PUMA and many other brands below NZ or Aus retail prices.  CITC Liquor carries brands such as Heineken, Tui, Steinlager in beers, a good selection of wines and for spirits you can find Jamesons, Absolut and Malibu plus many more of your favorites.  Check the CITC Liquor and Duty Free pages.

Q: Are your Island Souvenirs quarantine compliant?

A: Yes, most of our Island Souvenirs are quarantine compliant but be sure to ask.

Q: Are there wifi hotspots around the Island?

A: Yes, there are wireless hotspots all around the island, making Rarotonga a perfect destination for those wanting to stay connected while on holiday.  Pick up your wifi at the Bluesky office next to the CITC Avarua mainstore in town.

Q: Should I bring anything special when I come?

A: Bring a light cardigan or jacket, it gets cool in the evening during the winter months.

Q: What should I do with my local currency when I’m leaving the Island?

A: If you do not wish to keep the local currency $1, $2 and $5 coins as souvenirs, be sure to spend these before you leave as they are not legal tender outside the Cook Islands. Or deposit them in the Rotary donation box at the Airport.