Cook Island Culture
ENJOY THE SUN: The beautiful Cook Islands in the South Pacific are renowned for their tropical, sunny, and temperate climate. The suns shines in the Cooks most of the year, and it really is a great place to visit all year round.
You can expect it to be slightly cooler between June and August, while November to March can be considered the warm season. Brief but heavy tropical showers can be expected if you travel here during that time of the year but they never last long so don't let it spoil your fun!
The months between April and November are usually dry, with temperatures around 26°C. The warmer, more humid and somewhat damp season runs from December trought to March. During these months, the thermometer shows between 22°C and 28°C.
Severe weather is rare in the Cooks. Hurricanes only very rarely hit this region and if it they head our way, it can be predicted a long time before it happens so there is no need to feel unsafe.
THE PEOPLE: Cook Islands 19,569 (2006 census NZ). the Capital Rarotonga is home to around 10,000 people.
MONEY MATTERS: The currency of the Cook Islands is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). You will find branches of Westpac and ANZ - both Australian based banks - in Avarua. The banks are open from Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 3:00pm, Westpac also open Saturday mornings. Visitors can also exchange travellers cheques and all major currencies at larger stores and most hotels.
Banking facilities are also provided at the airport for currency exchange and cashing of travellers cheques. They are open for the arrival and departure of all International flights. Major credit cards are accepted throughout the island at hotels, most shops, and restaurants.
There are several ATM machines dotted around the Island. The Banks in Avarua township have ATMS, plus several can be found in small blocks of shops in the villages.
RELIGION: Many Cook Islanders are devout Christians and attend church each Sunday. That day is regarded island-wide as a day of rest. You will find only few shops or tourist activities open on this day. Petrol stations and a few restaurants will be open so life has not completely come to a halt.
DRESS TO IMPRESS: The atmoshpere on the Cook Islands is relaxed and rather informal, and the dress sense reflects this. Casual smart and resort wear is the rule. Please be aware that it is not commonly accepted in the Cooks to go out on the streets wearing nothing but beach wear. Bikinis alone should not be worn in shopping areas or other public places outside of the beach and resorts, as it may cause offence.
SONG AND DANCE: An important part of life in the Cook Islands is music and dance. It is not just another thing to do, it is a vital part of their lifestyle and culture. Each island has its own historical dances, which can be seen as a form of storytelling.
The dance moves are practised by practically everyone, boys and girls, from a very early age on. Cook Islanders are regarded as fine Polynesian dancers and dance groups from the islands have won many international awards.
The Cook Islands talent for music both in the song and dance can be seen at the numerous festivals and competitions that are held on the islands each year. There are many great string bands who create an great range of ingenuous music. When they perform at restaurants, hotels and concerts, they combine modern electronic instruments with traditional ukeleles fashioned from coconut shells.
Dance has a long and proud tradition in the Cooks. While most people have seen the moves of the Hawaiian hula and possibly also the Tahitian tamuré, the Cook Islands hura is even more sensual and fierce. There are two venues who host very professional shows, Highland Paradise and TeVaranui. Other shows with a meal and show combination are hosted at most of the hotels.
At the Aroa Beachside Inn, if you partake of their very popular BBQ evenings, the staff sing and dance after the meal. This is fantastic natural entertainment for all.