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Check out our advice on traveling to the Cook Islands.
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Who Can Travel to The Cook Islands?
People who have been in New Zealand for a full 14 days prior to departing for the Cook Islands are eligible to travel quarantine-free.
Travellers must not have tested positive for Covid-19 in the 14 days prior to departure or be awaiting results. If they have tested positive, written advice from a health practitioner confirming they are no longer infectious must be presented.
Normal immigration rules apply for travel to the Cook Islands. Travellers are allowed to stay for up to 31 days and must have evidence of a return ticket.
Temporary visa holders in New Zealand can travel to the Cooks so long as they meet all immigration requirements and can return to New Zealand.
The two-way bubble commenced on Monday, May 17. The first Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Rarotonga, is scheduled to take off at 8.55am on Tuesday.
How Many Flights are operating?
For now, the airline is operating two to three flights a week. From July, it is planning to scale that up to daily flights to the islands.
Do I need a Pre departure test?
Travellers moving under the quarantine-free travel arrangement are not required to undergo a pre-departure test.
What will happen at the airport?
In Auckland, where flights to the Cook Islands depart from, separate terminals opened in April for the commencement of the trans-Tasman bubble.
Auckland Airport has split its international terminal in two to separately process green and red zone passengers.
While pre-departure tests aren’t a requirement, travellers must complete travel declarations prior to departure. There will also be random health checks at the airport.
Face coverings are to be worn for the duration of the flight.
What happens if there is a Covid -19 case?
This is where the Cook Islands bubble differs from the Australian arrangement.
The Cooks have not reported any Covid-19 cases throughout the pandemic, so if a case does emerge, it will have come from New Zealand.
In the event of new infections, the Cooks will more than likely want to close their border to New Zealand. The quarantine-free path from the Cook Islands, however, may remain open.
There are three phases of the bubble: Continue, pause, and suspend.
In the ‘continue’ phase, quarantine-free travel operates as planned as there is a low risk of transmission.
If cases emerge with an unknown source but a likely link to the border, short-term lockdowns may be imposed in affected areas, and flights to and from the Cooks will be paused. Travellers may be asked to get a pre-departure test, to self-isolate, or even go into managed isolation on arrival. From here, the situation may quickly escalate to the next phase, suspension.
Flights will be suspended if there is a confirmed case with an unknown source, prompting a nationwide lockdown in either country. Flights will be stopped for an extended period, but people needing to return to New Zealand, or the Cook Islands will be managed to minimise the risk of spread. Again, travellers may be asked to get a pre-departure test, self-isolate or enter managed isolation.
Will I be stranded if cases emerge?
Unlike the Australian arrangement, travellers flying out of New Zealand with the bubble won’t be stranded. Kiwis in the Cooks will not have to shelter in place, as they would in Australia, rather they would be helped home.
Which Contact Tracing App Should I use?
Its recommended people download both the CookSafe+ and NZ Covid Tracer app to keep track of movements on either side. The apps both have Bluetooth capabilities and work in similar ways, however, only one app can have tracing on at a time.
The apps work together to share information. Alerts will be sent through both apps if users have potentially been exposed.
Travellers arriving in the Cook Islands are also advised to register for a CookSafe QR Card at the international airport or the tourism visitor information centre in town. This card should be kept on their persons at all times and can be scanned at locations that have CookSafe stations.
People who do not have smartphones are encouraged to keep a physical record of their movements.