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Cook Islands / Rarotonga / Avatiu Harbour
(votes: 1)
Type Harbour
Country Cook Islands
City Avatiu
Available places 10
Max depth 3.5 m
UHF 16
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • WiFi
  • Toilet
  • Shower
  • Fuel station
  • Laundry machines
  • Repairs
  • Shops
  • Port of entry
Views: 3544

For boats

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 islands, spread over an area of over half a million square miles of ocean. The Southern Group, of which Rarotonga is the main island, also comprises Aitutaki, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia. These are high and fertile and most of the 18,500 inhabitants live there.
December to March is rainy and also the cyclone season. Generally the climate is warm and sunny, but not too hot. During the winter, April to November, the islands are under the influence of the SE trade winds. However, sudden squalls can occur from other directions with little warning.
Cruising yachts are not allowed to remain in the islands during the cyclone season, which is from November to March. Harbour masters in Rarotonga and Aitutaki may not even let transiting yachts stay overnight in port during the cyclone season.
Call Rarotonga Harbour Master on VHF CH16. If there is no answer try to contact with Rarotonga Radio VHF CH 16 and ask for contact with Harbour Master.
Inform harbour master about:
·         Estimated time of arrival and departure.
·         Sailing vessel description: length, beam, draft and gross tonnage.
·         Sailing vessel mast height (there is a maximum of 27 meters, but if over other solutions are possible).
The Port Operations manager will direct yachts where to moor.
A height restriction of 27m is in place at the north end of the wharf as yacht masts obstruct aircraft taking off from the nearby airport.
The pass is 50m wide and clearly marked by gree/red buoys and leading lights/marks. The main harbour is 5m deep (3m near the South quay).
Smaller West harbour is for locals boat only.
Mooring is available at the Southern end of the main harbour (med style: bow anchor, stern to the quay with long moorings). There is no straight access to quay when moored. Harbour stuff helps with moorings, but be prepared to use the dinghy to take lines ashore

1.                  It is far safer to wait until daylight to enter Avatiu Harbour than trying to enter in the dark.
2.                  Once in the harbour there is enough space to turn into the wind to drop sails.
3.                  Not much space; there is only about 100m of wall (South quay).
4.                  Poor holding ground; some sand, some light mud with occasional lumps of broken coral.
5.                  Prepare two stern lines of at least 30m.
6.                  Rig fenders to port (downwind in prevailing easterlies) side.
7.                  Drop anchor at least three boat lengths out from where you want to end up, taking caution not to cross other boats anchors or rodes.
8.                  Wind on or just forward of the beam during normal ESE trades.
9.                  Continual swell and wave refraction - harbour is open to the ocean.
10.              You need a dinghy to access the shore.
11.              The harbour is open for North winds and swell. Monitor the weather forecast. If the harbour is crowded, you may be safer and more comfortable putting to sea.
12.              The harbourmaster, whose office is in the two-storied blue building adjacent to the harbour, handles customs and immigration and generally the health and quarantine inspectors will call by if you have the quarantine flag hoisted.
Options If You need to vacate the harbour
It is possible to anchor in the lee of the island as the wind back around to the north during a frontal passage, but all of the anchorages are deep, fairly close to shore and frequently on coral and the wind may shift around in an anticlockwise direction fairly quickly, depending on the speed of movement of the frontal passage.
Off Arorangi Primary School (visible from seaward). On the far western edge of the island is an anchorage that has a dinghy pass through the coral. The approximate position of this anchorage is 21.13 S, 159.50 W.
P. O. Box 84 – Rarotonga, Cook Islands
P: +682 21921 M: +68275462 F: +682 21191
E: saungaki@ports.co.ck

Ports of Entry: Rarotonga: Avatiu Harbour – 21.12S, 159.47W, Aitutaki: Arutanga – 18.51S, 159.49W, Penrhyn: Omoka – 08.51S, 15803W, Pukapuka – 1050S, 16550W, Manihiki: Tauhunu – 10.25S, 161.03W, Manihiki: Tukao – 10.22S, 161.02W, Atiu: Taunganui – 19.59S, 158.08W
All vessels sailing to the Cook Islands are required to fill in an Advance Notice Advice (ANA) with Cook Islands Customs, at least 48 hours prior to the expected arrival time in the Cook Islands. ANA forms can be downloaded at CICS Form 29 (http://www.mfem.gov.ck/images/documents/RMD_Docs/Customs/Forms/Craft/Forms/Sea_Craft/Form_29_-_Advance_Notice_Of_Arrival_Small_Craft.pdf).
Advance Notices of Arrival must be provided to Customs by fax (+682 29465) or by email (customs.craft@cookislands.gov.ck) using the file name format [ANA, name of craft, voyage or sail number if available, estimated time of arrival into the Cook Islands], e.g. ANA, Ocean Spirit, 30/11/2014
Failure to provide an ANA is a criminal offence.
You must also advise the Biosecurity Cook Islands of your arrival port and date, either by emailing the staff(s) of your planned destination. Email: biosecurity@agriculture.gov.ck
Yachts must hoist the "Q" flag up until cleared by Port Health, who will visit the yacht and provide pratique.
Official will be informed by Port Authority and visit the yacht. NOBODY goes ashore before clearance is complete.
If entering in Rarotonga a permit for up to 31 days will be given on arrival. This can be extended, on a monthly basis, up to three months maximum. Fourteen days before the permit expires one should apply for any extension. Proof of adequate funds may be requested for extensions.
A list of firearms must be produced on arrival and these will be impounded until departure.
Animals have to be confined on board until eventual clearance to land by the Quarantine Officer.
Agriculture and Quarantine
Animals, plants and fruit will be inspected. Some fruit and meat may be confiscated, so it is advisable not to arrive with a lot of fresh supplies. All vessels entering the Cook Islands require a Bio Security Clearance which will be issued by the Quarantine Inspector when he boards your vessel.
Health inspector will visit the yacht and provide pratique.
In our case there was no immigration officer on boat, all the papers was done by custom officer.
There is some fees to pay: Customs NZ$57.20, Health clearance NZ$25.00. Payment is Cash only in NZD. If you have no NZ dollars you can pay later.
The day before your intended departure, visit the Ports Authority office to fill your departure form and pay your Port Dues and Departure Tax (if not paid in customs office) then you will proceed to the Custom for Clearance to depart the Cook Islands. Payment is Cash only.
The above procedures also apply if you are planning to call at another island in the Cook Islands prior to leaving for overseas.
If you want to leave the harbour on weekend, do check out on Friday.
Two taps near the quay (near the small bar and Porth Authority) – both not drinkable.
There is few water points (drinkable) in the town where you can fill your tanks. The nearest is about 150m.
Bottled water are very expencive in the shops.
There is no electricity available in the main harbour.
There is a WC and shower in Porth Autority builng (30m from the boats). A key deposit of NZ $10 must be paid. I have no information about duty free diesel – ask customs.
Diesel and Petrol are available at a service station across the road from the main harbour at Avatiu (about 100m from the quay). Use your jerrycans to deliver diesel to the boat.
There are garbage and recycling bins near the Harbour Master's office (wired bins). No extra fee.
The only yacht repairs available are via Keith Christian of Sail Rarotonga.
ANZ, Westpac and Bank of the Cook Islands. All are located in the center of the village. Number of ATM's on the island. You may exchange USD, EURO and other currences in banks or exchange office (passport is needed).
There is many big and small groceries an markets in the village of Avarua. Foodland Avarua is on the main watefront road in Avarua, approx 1.5km east of Avatiu harbour. The larger CITC supermarket is approximately 500m east of Avatiu harbour on the main waterfront road. Prime Foods outlet in town has meats and fruit/vegetables often available at discount prices. The Punanga Nui market operates next to Avatiu harbour on Saturday mornings. It is well worth visiting for fruit and vegetables, as well as the island market experience.
There are lots of places to eat in Rarotonga, all catering for some combination of the local and tourist trade. Variet standards and prices. There are a few small eateries near the port, offering various value meals, mostly based on the local favourites of Fish and Chips, Burger and Chips, etc. Palace Takeaways (adjacent) is the closest, Sea Salt is across the road. Opinions vary as to the quality of each but both do a reasonable fish and chips, and Palace has a $3.50 burger deal on Wednesdays.
BlueSky Hot Spot is available in the harbour. You can buy credits by WiFi or in many shops in the village. Few plans are available, e.g. 1.5GB – 25 NZD.
For those who have a 3G mobile phone Telecom Cook Islands does a reasonably good deal on prepaid 3G mobile data plans. Expect to pay around $NZ50 for 1GB of download data. SIM cards and top ups can be purchased from Teleshop at the CITC mall in Avarua.
Snowbird operate a laundry service in Avarua, their outlet can be hard to find as it's a couple of streets back from the main waterfront road. A load cost NZ$12 including washing, drying and folding. More loads? Negotiate discount.
Circle-island buses run around the coast noad in both directions, departing from the Circle Island Bus Stop at Cook’s Corner in Avarua. Buses running clockwise depart hourly from 7am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and from 8am to noon and 2pm to 4pm Sunday.
Buses running anticlockwise depart at 30 minutes past the hour, from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturday. There are no anti-clockwise buses on Sundays.
A night bus service runs clockwise on Friday at midnight and at 2am on Saturday. Note there is no 11pm bus on Friday.
Adult ticket about 5 NZD.
Language: Cook Islands Maori (15 dialects spoken over the 15 islands that make up the Cooks), English is widely spoken.
Capital: Avarua on Rarotonga.
Population: 13.000 on Rarotonga, total population around 18,000 (2011).
Currency: NZ dollar.
Official Tourism website: www.cookislands.travel.
Transport: Public buses, scooters, cars, bicycles, some taxis although more the phone and book variety. Raro Tours provide airport transfers.
Rarotonga International Airport: The airport is 2-3 kms from Avarua. Air Rarotonga provides domestic flights. Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia fly from NZ. (Departure tax is now included in the ticket price).
Religion: Over half the population belongs to the Cook Islands Christian Church. Others may be Mormons, followers of the Baha'i Faith, Seventh Day Adventists or Jehovah Witnesses.
Sunday: Sunday is dedicated to church, family and rest. Bars and eating establishments may be closed (not all).
Whale watching: July - October, A where, when and how to guide. Cooks Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre.
There are two international shipping lines currently operating through the Cook Islands. They run on an approximately three weekly cycle:
Rarotonga Agents: EXCIL SHIPPING LTD
P: +682 25-193/25-196
M: +682 55-303
E: mapera@xcil.co.ck / shipping@xcil.co.ck
MB: +682 55-674
PH: +682 27-674
EMAIL: ship@transam.co.ck
Phone +682 24-905
MB: +682 54-540
Fax +682 24906
Email taio@taio.co.ck
Phone +682 27-674
MB: +682 55-454
Fax +682 24906
Email taio@taio.co.ck
Cook Islands General Transport Ltd
Phone +682 24441 / Fax +682 24446
Email movers@cigt.co.ck
HPM De-vanning
Phone +682 27187 / Fax +682 27187
Email tony.armstrong@oyster.net.ck
There are 5 local shipping agents for vessels visiting the Cook Islands
Cruise Cook Islands - P.O.Box 440, Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Stuart Henry - Managing Director, Rarotonga Agency
Ph: +682 25761
Mob: +682 54966
Email: stuart@cruisecookislands.com
Mike Henry - Director & Aitutaki Agency
Mob: 682 55105
Email: mike@cruisecookislands.com
Hawaii Pacific Maritime Ltd - P.O.Box 435, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Mrs Agnes Armstrong - Managing Director
Ph: +682 27185
Mobile: +682 55185
Email: agnes@hpm.co.ck
Ms Helena Mitchell         - helena@hpm.co.ck
Mrs Pua Nicholls               - puan@hpm.co.ck
Ms Azia Buksh                   - azia@hpm.co.ck
Excil Shipping Limited - PO Box 3056, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Maru Apera - Manager [shipping]
Ph: +682 25193 or +682 25196
Mobile: +682 55303
Email: shipping@xcil.co.ck or mapera@xcil.co.ck
Transam Cook Islands - P.O Box 326, Avatiu, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tekau Anguna - Agency Manager
PH: +682 27674
Mobile: +682 27674
Email: ship@transam.co.ck
Matina Travel Ltd – P.O. Box 54, Avarua, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS
Christine [Vina] Manuel - Shipping Manager
Travel and Shipping Agencies
Ph: +682 21780,
Fax: +682 24780
Mob: +682 55251
Email: trvlsave@matinatravel.co.ck
Sail Rarotonga
Keith Christian
Sail Rarotonga Ltd
P.O. Box 30, Avarua, Rarotonga
Tel:+682 74919 (Raro)
Keith has a workshop not too far from the harbour at Avatiu and can be contacted regarding repairs of all types. He also has haul out facilities -- trailer and tractor type, but vessels up to 1.8m draft and 30 tonnes can be lifted, along with a storage yard for larger or longer term repairs. Ask around at the wharf or the fishing harbour to find Keith.

For crews

Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands (100.000 turists per year) and is where government resides. Circular and only 32 km in circumference, it is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests provide a dramatic backdrop to a palm-fringed shore.
The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, however there is no navigable lagoon.
Things to do Ashore
Rarotonga's largest income earner is tourism, and there are a large number of things to do ashore. Check out the information office in the centre of Avarua for the latest details, but there are a number of things on offer including:
-          Te Vara Nui over water night show (lovely show, good food – 120 NZD).
-          Edgewater Resort and Pacific Resort also offer island feast / cultural show nights.
-          Cook Islands Whale & Wildlife Centre (high season only)
-          Fishing charters including Reel Time, Wahoo Fishing, and others (check at the fishing harbour near Avatiu port).
-          Coconut Jungle Quad Bike tours.
-          Cross Island Hiking – hard walk but worth to do.
-          Diving and snorkeling
-          Rent a schoteer or car and do a day trip around Rarotonga
The diving around Rarotonga is accessible and rewarding with wreck dives, walls, drop offs, canyons, swim-throughs, coral gardens and an abundance of fish life (and whales, turtles, rays). Diving isn’t expensive (around $130-145 dollar for a two tank dive trip) including gear hire with discounts for multiple dives) and night dives are available. It will cost around $500 to get an Open Water Diver certificate. The best thing about becoming certified in the tropics is that your compulsory dives will be in great locations and you can study the required theory poolside over a drink. On Rarotonga, dive operators include:
-           The Dive Centre – The Big Fish (Sascha Schmitt & Sabine Janneck) – phone 20238
-           Dive Rarotonga (Ed & Karen Redman) – phone 21 873
-           Cook Island Divers (Greg Wilson) – phone 22 483
-           Pacific Divers (Steve Lyon) – phone 22450
The finest snorkelling is just off the white sands along Tikioki (Takitumu Villas) and Titikaveka (south part of Rarotonga). Ask your bus driver to drop you at Fruits of Rarotonga. The south end of Muri Beach is also excellent. The best spot in the lagoon is between Ta’akoka islet and the barrier reef. There are spots along the southern coast where there can be rips and strong currents though (Avaavaroa Passage, Papua Passage and Rutaki Passage). On Aitutaki, your lagoon cruise will include snorkelling.
There are many motorbike and car hire places along the main road of Avatiu and Avarua, as well as elsewhere on the island. Prices from 60NZD for a small car, and 15NZD for a motorbike. If you want to rent a motorbike you need to obtain Cooks Island Motorbike Licence (you need motor licence from your country). Visit Police Station in the center. Extra fee of 20NZD, 5-10 minutes if no quene.  


Port dues are based on the following with the day of arrival and day of departure each counting as one day, regardless of arrival and departure time. Port dues are payable at the Ports Authority in Rarotonga.
Monohull NZD 2.40 per metre per day
MultiHull NZD 2.95 per metre per day.
Motor Yacht NZD 2.40 per GRT/Metre per day (whichever is greater)
All persons departing the Cook Islands are required to pay departure tax of NZD 66.00 per person (NZD 15.00 for children under 12). You can pay it in Custom Office
Visa extension fee amounts to NZD 70.00 for 3 months per person.
Customs fees NZD 57.20
Overtime is charged before 08:00 and after 16:00 on weekdays, and all day at weekends and public holidays.
Health clearance fee – 25 NZD
WC key deposit – 10 NZD
Rent a car – from 60 NZD/day
Rent a motorbike – from 25 NZD/day
Te Vara Niu Show – 119 NZD
Bus ticket – 5 NZD

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