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.
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.
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.
|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|