Sign up to our Bounty Club
for the latest Exclusive Travel Offers


Live Like a Local in the Cook Islands

To totally and culturally immerse yourself in a holiday destination, be sure to experience the people and their traditions. Made up of 15 islands, the Polynesian culture is proudly represented in the Cook Islands through the traditional art of weaving, dancing, cuisine, family values and the peaceful way of Island life.  Here are some of our top tips on how to live like a local in the Cook Islands

Tip 1:  Speak like a local

The official language of the Cook Islands is Maori Kuki Airani, or as many of the locals call it Te Reo Ipukarea, the language of the Ancestral Homeland. 

Kia Orana - a greeting which is a blessing and a wish for good fortune.

Meitaki - meaning everything is good, well and thank you all in one.

Maata - means thank you very much.


Tip 2:  Eat like a local

If you are staying in Rarotonga, a must do is a visit to the Punanga Nui markets in downtown Avarua on Saturday mornings to sample some of the locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as homemade treats like poke. Pronounced po-kay, this delicious delight is sweet and creamy and is cooked with various flavour ingredients such as caramelised bananas, papaya, coconut, sweet potato, breadfruit or taro. Eat as is or as an accompaniment to other local delicacies such as raw fish or goat stew. The Muri night markets in the Muri Beach Village are open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5pm.  Get there early for local BBQ meals, seafood, curries and more, available from various food trucks, stalls and stands.  Don’t forget to take New Zealand dollars are most vendors are cash only. 


Tip 3: Travel like a local

Whilst car and scooter hire is inexpensive, local buses are an efficient and cost effective mode of transport.  The main island of Rarotonga is only 32kms, without traffic lights, two roundabouts and no buildings taller than a coconut tree. It takes just 45 minutes to circle the Island, and there are two buses, one Clockwise and the other, Anti Clockwise. The buses will stop anywhere along the main road with a smile and a wave.  The first departure from town is the clockwise bus commencing from 7:00am Monday to Saturday on the hour until last departure at 4:00pm, and from 8:30am at 30 minutes past the hour until the last departure at 4:30pm on the anti clockwise bus.  Night buses run every hour from 6:00pm to 11:00pm.  A round trip is from NZD $8.00, or you can purchase a hop on, hop off day pass from NZD $16.00. Child and family fares are also available. 


Tip 4: Sleep like a local

“Are” means home in Maori, and traditional bungalows or villas are Polynesian style with woven materials featuring wood from locally grown timbers, coconut thatching and high ceilings.  Whichever of the islands you choose to visit, there are a range of accommodation options,   from fully self contained through to resort style, beachfront bungalows and villas, budget to luxury, you will be spoiled for choice.  Check out the accommodation options on our web page or call for a recommendation from one of our Spacifica Travel Superstars.


Tip 5: Dance like a local

Available at a number of resorts and cultures centres on Rarotonga, Atiu and Aitutaki, the Island Night cultural show is a night to remember.  Polynesian history and traditions are told through music, dance and cuisine.  Join in the fun and bust some Polynesian moves on the dance floor.  Te Vara Nui Village features an over water flaming torchlight showcase of the ‘Legend of Tongaiti’.  The story tells of the warrior Tongaiti, who built a large Vaka for his wife and tribe to sail to the floating islands of Tumu-Te-Varovaro.  After arriving at the islands, they were not accepted by the natives. For many days they sailed around the island, weary and hungry. In desperation, Tongaiti called upon his daughter to dance, hoping her beauty would allow them to come ashore. The Chief was instantly in love and captivated, he welcomed them to the island and celebrated with feast and dance.  The buffet style menu includes local dishes such as ika mata, marinated raw fish salad, and cooked dishes from the umu kai, or traditional earth oven. 

Book your Cook Islands holiday with fantastic exclusive sale prices available now until 29 January 2020.  Browse through all our Cook Island holiday packages and choose the one that best suits your travel style and needs. Alternatively we can assist you to tailor a specific package.

comments powered by Disqus
We know the South Pacific like the frond of every palm