Aerial view of Muri Lagoon at sunset in Rarotonga

Best time to visit Rarotonga - when to go and how to get there

Mon, 18/01/2021 - 5:44pm
Read Time: 5.2 mins

Rarotonga is the largest and most widely visited island located within the Cook Islands nation. Boasting golden sand beaches, palm-fringed shores and crystal clear waters it is a tropical paradise that needs to be seen to be believed.

Rarotonga Weather

Swimming Pool overlooking the beach in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Swimming Pool overlooking the beach in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Image: Shutterstock
Fortunately for those travellers looking to visit Rarotonga, the weather is nothing short of glorious. The island enjoys a sunny and warm climate all year round. From April to November expect to experience temperatures of 25-28⁰C. November through to March are the warmer months with higher humidity and occasional tropical showers typically seen in the morning or afternoons. These are perfectly timed for a morning sleep in, an afternoon nap or a cheeky cocktail overlooking the beach or pool!
 

Rarotonga Weather Seasons

Relaxing beachside beds overlooking the lagoon in Rarotonga
Relaxing beachside beds overlooking the lagoon in Rarotonga. Image: Shutterstock
Unlike New Zealand, Rarotonga does not have defined weather seasons. With the minimum temperatures reaching a warm 18 degrees there is no bad time to visit Rarotonga and the surrounding islands.

For those seeking to enjoy the island in a quieter setting, it is recommended to time your visit outside of school holidays if you can. Not only will you enjoy cheaper airfares, but you will also have the opportunity to experience Rarotonga and the surrounding islands at a more relaxed pace.

To make your visit even more special time your trip around Whale Watching season. From July to October, the humpback whales make their way to the warmer waters of the Cook Islands to rest, mate and give birth. The surrounding shores have been formally declared as a whale sanctuary known as the Cook Islands Exclusive Zone (EEZ) to ensure that these magnificent creatures continue to be protected and have the opportunity to peacefully visit each year. The western side of the island offers great vantage points such as Black Rock to spot the whales.
 

What to wear in Rarotonga

Father and kids enjoy a bike ride alongside the beautiful beaches of Rarotonga
Father and kids enjoy a bike ride alongside the beautiful beaches of Rarotonga. Image: Shutterstock
Due to the balmy temperatures and the ocean or pool never being too far away it is important to ensure you pack accordingly. If you plan on venturing into the capital of Rarotonga, Avarua, beach attire is not appropriate and it is recommended to wear shoes, shorts and a t-shirt or a dress.

The Cook Islands offer plenty of activities from ocean themed to mountain-based it is important to pack clothing and footwear that is both sun-smart and suitable for all terrains that may be encountered.

If visiting in the warmer months of November through to March it is helpful to have a light, waterproof jacket handy if a tropical storm hits while you are adventuring around.

To ensure that you make the most of your time in Rarotonga it is recommended to decide the best way for you to get around the island. Although small, this island is packed full of adventure activities and must-see experiences and that way if you know in advance what you want to do, it will be easier to decide what to pack!
 

Flights from Auckland to Rarotonga

Aerial panorama view of the Cook Islands
Aerial panorama view of the Cook Islands. Image: Shutterstock
If you are a New Zealander you are in luck! Flights from Auckland to Rarotonga are direct, and less than 4 hours (note that airline flight schedules have changed due to COVID-19 so check with your Flight Centre Travel Expert for airline schedules once the borders have re-opened). This makes the Cook Islands an accessible location for a long weekend away with your loved one or is a short and easy flight that allows you to take the whole family for a week of relaxation in paradise with ease.

Rarotonga offers a large selection of family-friendly, adult-only, self-contained villas and luxurious resorts to ensure that you can find the perfect stay that meets your individual needs.
 

Flights from Rarotonga to Aitutaki

A plane at Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands airport
A plane at Aitutaki Island, Cook Islands airport. Image: Shutterstock
Looking to adventure a bit off the beaten track? Flights to Aitutaki from Rarotonga are available with Air Rarotonga and in less than an hour, 50 minutes to be exact, you could be landing south of Rarotonga on the island of Aitutaki. 

This tropical oasis is surrounded by a beautiful turquoise blue lagoon teeming with an abundance of marine life. As would be expected there are water activities galore, from sailing, lagoon day tours, diving, kayaking, kite surfing, whale watching, and more. For those wanting to relax and rewind at a slower pace make sure to book yourself in for a relaxing massage at one of the spas around the island, indulge in the modern Polynesian cuisine with freshly caught fish off the reef being a must or book in for a tour of the Punarei Cultural Village.

If you are seeking an even more remote location, the surrounding islands remain unspoiled and equally as majestic as their more well-known neighbours. Atiu, Mangaia, Ma’uke and Mitiaro are accessible by local flights or the occasional boat. What they don’t provide in upmarket hotels, restaurants and cafes they make up for in breathtaking natural beauty, lush rainforest, underground cave pools and truly unique sights.


The Cook Islands are a popular holiday location for New Zealanders with many choosing to visit time and time again. Due to its proximity, friendly locals, and tropical climate, it is the perfect spot to escape the cold winter months or to enjoy a relaxing break without needing to travel far.

 

Please note that at the time of writing this blog, the New Zealand borders are still closed due to COVID-19, but as soon as it is officially announced that travel can resume between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, make sure you contact your Flight Centre Travel Expert to book your airfares, accommodation and holiday packages

Jamie Crighton

Jamie is a Senior Direct Marketing Executive at Flight Centre. She loves nothing more than hopping on a flight to somewhere new, especially if it involves beautiful beaches, snow-capped peaks or breath-taking vistas.