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Cook Islands Tourism Restarts With First Bubble Flight From Auckland To Rarotonga

Togs, hat, sunscreen, check! New Zealanders are off to get some sun as the first flight in the two-way Cook Islands travel bubble has taken off from Auckland today. 

Togs, hat, sunscreen, check! New Zealanders are off to get some sun as the first flight in the two-way Cook Islands travel bubble has taken off from Auckland today. 

Let’s hear it for the bubbles!

A full flight, NZ940 departed Auckland at 8.55am NZT bound for Rarotonga, reconnecting families, helping to give a much-needed boost to the local economy. The flight will also deliver doses of the Pfizer vaccine ahead of the Cook Islands vaccination rollout.  

Air New Zealand Chief Customer & Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said the airline has seen strong sales, in particular throughout July and October, coinciding with school holidays. 

“It’s no surprise that Kiwis are booking in a much-needed break, especially as the temperature drops at home. In 2019 we saw almost 110,000 New Zealanders head to Rarotonga, so it’s great to see strong demand for flights following the bubble announcement.

“Initially, we’ll be offering two flights a week on Tuesday and Saturday. This will ramp up to daily in July to ensure that we can help as many Kiwis as possible escape for some well-deserved R&R.”

Tourism rebooted

New Zealand Cook Islands

With New Zealanders comprising two-thirds of all visitors to the Cook Islands and tourism being the mainstay of the economy, the first flight taking off is a significant milestone in the region’s recovery. 

Cook Islands Tourism Corporation General Manager for Australasia Graeme West says there is no better time for Kiwis to visit the tropical island paradise as holidaymakers will have the place to themselves. 

He said today’s first two-way quarantine-free flight between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is the best thing that has happened in 14 months.

“It’s hard to describe the significance of what today means for the Cook Islands,” said Mr West “I’m ecstatic”.

“Today is a momentous occasion for the local community, and they will be ready to welcome the first arrivals with open arms.”

“We’re ready to go and to showcase everything that we’re renowned for – our warm tropical weather, stunning natural beauty, friendliness and hospitality and our great food,” Mr West continued.


Rolling out the Pfizer vaccine at the same time as the borders are opening provides another layer of comfort for both locals and visitors.

Mr West said the Cook Islands is very fortunate to have remained COVID-19 free and has made the health and wellbeing of its citizens its top priority. 

With vaccinations starting on Thursday 20 May, people on Rarotonga and Aitutaki should be fully vaccinated by late June.

The deets

During the flights, Air New Zealand says its customers will be required to wear masks during travel to and from Rarotonga and screening questions will be asked at check-in.

To be eligible to travel, customers will need to have been in New Zealand for the preceding 14 days. Due to requirements from the Government of The Cook Islands, bookings for flights to Rarotonga will be closed 48 hours prior to departure.

Air New Zealand has also extended its flexibility policy allowing customers with flights scheduled to depart before 11:59pm on 31 December 2021 have the ability to opt into credit or make a change to the date or time of the flight with change fees waived (fare difference may still apply).  

In the Cook Islands, visitors will be encouraged to use Cooksafe and Cooksafe+ to assist with contact tracing.

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