Cook Islands

Cook Islands Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving in the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands drives on the left and drivers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, EU Nations, USA, Japan and Norway can use their own photo licence  to drive here. Drivers from other countries need to obtain a visitors licence from Police Headquarters in Avarua. A theory and practical test is required and the cost is $40NZD. The testing hours are: Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 2.00pm; Friday 8.30am to 1.00pm; and Saturday 8.30am to 10.30am. It’s advisable to check that testing will be available on the day you plan to attend as these times may change. A test is also needed if your own licence doesn’t qualify you to drive a motorcycle. Speed limit in built-up areas is 30kmh and 50kmh in other areas.

The cook has 320km of roads, 90% of which are unpaved, with the majority on the most populated islands, Rarotonga. There are two roads that circle Rarotonga, the coastal road Ara Tapu (Sacred Road, 32km) and the inland road Ara Metua (Ancient Road, 29km).  the island has no traffic lights, two pedestrian crossings and only two roundabouts so it’s pretty hard to get lost. It takes around 45 minutes to drive around Rarotonga.Most roads are in reasonable condition though some are gravel and there will be the odd pot hole on all roads.

The second largest island in terms of population, Aitutaki, also has a coast road and 4 roads running across the island. Roads are in generally good condition following a resealing exercise in 2017.

Driving style is generally laidback and locals will often drive with unsceured children in the front seats of vehicles, as well as on the backs of scooters. Pedestrians,dogs and other livestock tend to walk in the road, a hazard which is made worse on unlit roads at night.You should therefore drive cautiously at all times and expect the unexpected.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Cook Islands Car Rental
Budget and Avis have branches here, and there are a number of local companies renting scooters.

We currently have no local car rental partners in the Cook Islands. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on


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