A visit to the Cook Islands
Rarotonga Travel Blog› entry 12 of 21 › view all entries
We woke at about 8:00 to a cloudy sky, dressed and checked e-mail. I picked up Linda and we ate breakfast in the Panorama Buffet, then headed for town. As usual, there was a bit of a wait for the tender. We walked into town from the dock, getting some NZ cash from an ATM, then rented a Suzuki 4x4 from Budget for 73NZ. They had cheaper cars but Lin thought the open-top 4x4 would be a kick.
We had to get a Cook Islands driver’s license for 10NZ but the police station was right next door to the rental agency. Jesse and Chris were there getting licenses for motor scooters and were waiting to take a driver’s test. I had to get a photo taken for the license and then wait 30 minutes for processing but they said I could drive around while we waited so we went back to an artists’ colony near the ship to look around.
We drove clockwise around the island mostly on the outer road, but we did use the inner road just to have a look. After missing the turn several times, we drove up a dirt road to a waterfall. There were some American girls just leaving who warned us of the mosquitoes and gave us a bit of their bug spray. Good thing they did as the mosquitoes were plentiful. When we reached the airport, I tried unsuccessfully once again to rent an airplane. Damn!
We had lunch at a place on the water called Trader Jack’s. Maggie and Robert were already there and we chatted between tables. When they were finished eating, Maggie walked back to the ship and Robert sat with us, then we gave him a lift to the dock. We did some shopping but, while prices were definitely lower than those in the French islands, we didn’t find a lot we liked so we turned in the car, walked back to the dock and took a beating selling back our unused NZ$.
As you might expect by now, I sat by the pool until it got too cool, then dressed for dinner. The show was "Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” and it was pretty good. After that, we hit the rack.
Rotonga is the one island we visited that is not part of French Polynesia and getting there involved a full day at sea. Rarotonga is one of the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are "self-governing in free association with New Zealand." They control internal affairs and New Zealand controls external. The islands have the right to unilaterally declare independence whenever they want. The main town and the capital of the Cook Islands is Avarua. It's quite nice and there are a lot of nice shops. Currency is the New Zealand dollar and when we were there, it was worth about 65 US cents.
Cars are readily available for rent but you must get a Cook Islands driver's license! Neither your home license nor an international one is sufficient. However, they'll gladly issue one for NZ10 and a look at your home driver's license.. It takes about 30 minutes to process the picture but you can drive the car while you're waiting! Some friends rented motor scooters and, since they didn't have motorcycle endorsements on their home licenses, they had to take a test. It apparently involved making 4 left turns without falling off the bike! Of course, given the connection to the British Commonwealth, vehicles drive on the left side of the road; always a challenge for the rest of us.