Cook Islands

Climate

Tropical, moderated by trade winds. Rarotonga has average maximum temperatures of around 25°C 77°F in winter May-October and 29°C 82°F in summer November-April, temperatures in the northern islands are several degrees higher. Rainfall mostly occurs in summer, usually in the form of afternoon storms. Cyclone season is November to March, although the islands are hit by a big one only once every five years or so.

History

Named after Captain Cook, who sighted them in 1770, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand; in 1965 residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand. New Zealand handles defence, foreign affairs including issuing passports and currency; otherwise the islands are self-governing. This includes immigration, which is strictly controlled -- even for non Cook Island New Zealanders.

People

Many Cook Islanders will tell you how there are more Cook Islanders living in New Zealand and Australia than in the Cook Islands. The population of the Cook Islands is less than 15,000 but there are over 50,000 Cook Islanders living in New Zealand, and over 30,000 in Australia. Those remaining have often spent time in Auckland, Melbourne or Sydney before returning home.

Terrain

The Northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls. The Southern Cook Islands consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles where most of the populace lives.

Tourism

Tourism
 

Tourism facilities are well developed on Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and information is available. However you won't see a single tout, and tourist scams are unheard of. If you want to organize something, it usually isn't hard to do, but you will need to make the first move.

Tourism
 
Date Name
1 January New Year's Day, Hogmanay
2 January Day after New Year's Day
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday
25 April ANZAC Day
The first Monday in June Queen's Birthday
During July Rarotonga Gospel Day
4 August Constitution Day Te Maevea Nui Celebrations
26 October Gospel Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day