How quarantine-free travel works
You can travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands without having to go into managed isolation or self-isolation when you arrive. This is called quarantine-free travel.
Anyone in New Zealand can travel quarantine-free to the Cook Islands, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and immigration requirements.
You can visit each country for any length of time and you do not need to stay for 14 days before you return.
You can travel to the outer islands after you arrive in Rarotonga. You do not need to self-isolate in Rarotonga before you continue your journey to the outer islands.
Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands does not include Australia. You must spend 14 full days in New Zealand before you can continue your journey through to the Cook Islands or Australia.
Quarantine-free travel is available on commercial aircraft only.
You must meet some criteria
To travel to the Cook Islands on a quarantine-free flight, you must meet the following criteria:
- You need to spend the 14 full days before your date of departure in either New Zealand or the Cook Islands.
Note this means you can travel from day 15 onwards.
- You have not had a positive COVID-19 test in the 14 days before you depart. If you have, you must have written advice from a health practitioner that you are no longer infectious.
- You are not waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test taken in the past 14 days.
- You meet immigration requirements (see information below).
Normal immigration rules apply
Anyone can enter the Cook Islands as a tourist for a stay of up to 31 days. The passport you hold does not matter.
You must have evidence of a return ticket or a ticket for another destination.
New Zealand and Australian passport holders need at least 7 days remaining on their passports from the date they leave the Cook Islands. All other passport holders need at least 6 months remaining.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the Cook Islands’ immigration requirements.
Temporary visa holder in New Zealand
If you hold a temporary visa in New Zealand, you can travel to the Cook Islands quarantine-free as long as you meet the eligibility criteria and immigration requirements. You must check that you meet New Zealand's immigration requirements to return to New Zealand from the Cook Islands.
You do not need a pre-departure test
You do not need a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test to travel to the Cook Islands.
At the airport and while you're travelling
Wear a face covering
Wear a face covering on the flight. If you do not have one, your airline will give you one. You should also wear your face covering while in your departure and arrival airports.
Before you depart
You’ll notice extra precautions at the border. Please cooperate with requests from staff. Health professionals may be stationed at airports to undertake random temperature checks and health assessments of travellers.
You will not be able to travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms. If you have pre-existing medical conditions that explain any symptoms you may have (for example hayfever), make sure you bring evidence of this to avoid being denied boarding. This evidence must be a medical certificate.
On the plane
If you feel unwell on the flight, you will be isolated from others. When you arrive in the Cook Islands, your health will be assessed, and decisions will be made about what happens next for you and possibly for others on the flight.
You should be prepared in case you need to meet any costs for quarantine or hospital care.
When you arrive
You may be screened for your health when you arrive in the Cook Islands. If you feel unwell at the airport, tell a staff member or biosecurity officer.
Health professionals may be stationed at airports to undertake random temperature checks and health assessments of travellers.
What to do after you arrive in the Cook Islands
While you’re in the Cook Islands, there are a few things you need to do to keep yourself, your whānau and the communities you’re visiting safe from COVID-19.
Follow the Cook Islands guidance
Follow the guidelines for the Cook Islands — you can find information on the Cook Islands Government website.
Practise good hygiene
- Maintain physical distancing from others as much as possible.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly, and cough or sneeze into your elbow, and avoid touching your face.
- Avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces and items in places like shops.
If you feel unwell
If you feel unwell while in the Cook Islands, stay in your accommodation and put a face covering on, if you have one. Do not use public transport to go home.
Call the Cook Islands Healthline on 29667 for advice about what to do next.
Keep track of where you've been
Make sure you participate in the Cook Islands system to track people’s movements. Doing your part means you are part of the national effort to keep the Cook Islands COVID-19 free.
The Cook Islands uses a system that's a little different to New Zealand’s:
- Carry your unique CookSafe QR Card with you and scan in to the places you visit.
- Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the CookSafe+ app to keep track of the people you've been near.
Keep reading to find out how to use your CookSafe QR Card, as this part is a little different to how we scan in here in New Zealand.
Scan in with your CookSafe QR Card
When you arrive, register for your unique CookSafe QR Card, which is a physical card you should keep with you at all times. CookSafe stations will be set up at some locations, and you should use your QR Card to scan in.
Scan your QR Card at all locations with a ‘CookSafe Tag In Here’ sign. To scan in, hold your card in front of the scanning area of the device. The screen will appear green when you have successfully scanned in.
Register for your QR Card at Rarotonga International Airport or the Tourism Visitor Information Centre in town.
Download the CookSafe+ app and turn on Bluetooth tracing
Download the CookSafe+ app to help with contact tracing if needed. Using the app is one thing we can all do to help contact tracing go faster and stop the virus from spreading when a case of COVID-19 is detected.
- Download on the App Store for iPhones (external link)
- Get it on Google Play for Android phones (external link)
CookSafe+ uses Bluetooth technology, and it works in the same way as Bluetooth tracing on our NZ COVID Tracer app.
You can only turn on Bluetooth tracing in one contact tracing app at a time. Turn it on in CookSafe+ when you're in the Cook Islands, and turn it on in NZ COVID Tracer in New Zealand. You do not need to uninstall one app to be able to use the other.
If you do not have a smartphone, keep track of where you've been and who you've seen with your own pen and paper or keep a photo record.
The CookSafe+ app does not remove the need to scan in with your CookSafe QR Card. Remember to take your card with you everywhere you go.
CookSafe+ and NZ COVID Tracer work together
Any Bluetooth codes (or 'keys') that are sent or collected from your phone using one app can be accessed with the other app. The apps work together to make sure that whether you're in New Zealand or the Cook Islands, you can receive an alert if you've been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19.
Get to know the Cook Islands Alert Level system
The Cook Islands has a 4-tier COVID-19 Alert Level system. Make sure you know what to do at different Alert Levels.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites
On 2 February 2021, the Cook Islands declared a dengue 2 outbreak. Dengue is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The outbreak is ongoing and you should protect yourself and your loved ones against mosquito bites.
Be prepared, and have a plan if your travel is disrupted
Community cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand or the Cook Islands could lead to the Government pausing any quarantine-free travel arrangements while it gathers information about the risk.
You are responsible for managing any disruption to your travel due to COVID-19.
Have a plan if your travel is disrupted
Have a plan for what to do if your return to New Zealand is delayed. You may need to stay in the Cook Islands for longer than you planned, and you will need to meet any costs for this. Government assistance is unlikely to be available.
Make sure you keep in contact with your employer if your return is delayed. If you’re an employer, make sure you know your workers’ rights in this situation.
You should get travel insurance
You should get travel insurance before you travel overseas. Read the travel insurance conditions and talk to your travel insurer if you are unsure about whether their policy covers COVID-19-related travel disruption.
You may need to enter managed isolation when you return
If the COVID-19 situation changes in the Cook Islands, you may need to enter managed isolation or self-isolation when you return to New Zealand. If this happens, you will need to pay for your stay there. Applications to waive payments will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you need to travel to New Zealand urgently, you can apply for an emergency allocation.
Temporary visa holders from New Zealand
If you're a temporary visa holder from New Zealand, you should ensure you have enough time on your visa to cover an extended stay in the Cook Islands if required. If quarantine-free travel is suspended and border restrictions are put in place, you must have the right to enter New Zealand and hold a valid visa — this may include seeking a Border Exception to return to New Zealand.
Register at SafeTravel
We encourage you to register at SafeTravel to get the latest travel advice for the Cook Islands.
Registering means the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), embassies and consulates can:
- contact you in an emergency situation
- provide consular assistance if needed
- check on your wellbeing, or
- send you important information.
Support for New Zealanders with disrupted travel plans
Consular officials can give you local advice and support, with the aim of helping you to help yourself. Consular staff cannot pay your hotel, travel or other bills, or provide advice about flight bookings.
If you need consular assistance, contact the New Zealand High Commission or Consulate closest to you or email CONS@mfat.govt.nz
What to do if there are COVID-19 cases in New Zealand or the Cook Islands
If community cases occur in New Zealand or the Cook Islands, the Government could pause quarantine-free travel for a time to assess the risk or it could suspend travel for a longer period of time. Travellers should have a plan and be prepared for travel plans to be disrupted.
You airline or travel agent should contact you if your travel is affected.
Where to get information about COVID-19 and quarantine-free travel
Covid19.govt.nz (this website), our social media channels and the Cook Islands Government Department of Health website will announce changes to the COVID-19 situation and quarantine-free travel.
- Cook Islands Department of Health website (external link)
- Unite against COVID-19 social media (external link)
Check these websites and social media regularly for updates that may affect you. You should especially check Covid19.govt.nz for updates just before your return.
How COVID-19 cases would be managed
The New Zealand and Cook Islands governments have a plan for how they will manage quarantine-free travel arrangements if there is an outbreak of COVID-19. The response will depend on the situation and level of risk.
Here is a guide to what might happen and what you could be asked to do if there are COVID-19 cases in the Cook Islands or New Zealand.
Travelling back to New Zealand
If you’re travelling back to New Zealand, there are some things you need to do before you travel. You will need to meet eligibility criteria and immigration requirements.
Everyone must complete the Nau Mai Rā travel declaration before they depart the Cook Islands, including New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.