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ITC tutor Daniel Maine’s Rarotonga getaway: “I had the whole island to myself!’

Posted on 16/06/2021 by

ITC tutor Daniel Maine recently visited Rarotonga. Hear about his incredible experience!

On May 17, New Zealand opened a two-way bubble with the Cook Islands, allowing visitors to enjoy quarantine-free travel in both directions.

One of the very first to fly from New Zealand to Rarotonga was ITC’s own Daniel Maine, who was kind enough to share his experiences with us when he got back.

Read more about Daniel’s incredible trip and what it was like to travel in a bubble!

Welcome back! How was the trip?

Kia orana and thanks it’s great to be back.

My trip was an awesome escape from Auckland’s wet winter of 7 degrees and diving into the lagoons of tropical Rarotonga at 25 degrees, which also happens to be the same season.

When I travel, I enjoy good dining, meeting new people and experiencing something new.

I got to do all of these including becoming an official resident due to my heritage to these islands.

So much done in so little time.

Was it important to you to be one of the first to visit Rarotonga when the bubble opened?

Absolutely, it’s fantastic to be flying back internationally again after a long period where the world was in complete lock down from Covid-19. Being one of the first to travel when the bubble opened to Rarotonga, I felt so special. It had been 18 months since I last travelled overseas therefore this time round air-travel almost felt like a privilege. Initial flights to the Cooks have been full and I was amazed to see so many kiwis, especially families, onboard. I was eager to support the locals by dining out,  shopping and contributing to the economy wherever I could.

 What were the safety measures like during travel?

There were extra precautions pre travel for safety to ensure the bubble would succeed.

This meant:

Air NZ operated flights twice per week and expected to increase over the coming months.

Jetstar to resume flights from October 2021. Pasifika Air will also enter the market, operating direct flights ex Wellington and Christchurch later.

All travelers are to complete online forms for Cook Islands entry requirements as well as for New Zealand.

A 3-page arrival document for the Cook Islands with additional questions regarding Covid.

Downloading the local Covid tracing app meant signing in everywhere you visit on the island/s.

Just like here in NZ, best Covid safety practices were adhered to on the island.

One of my mates who is based in Sydney had to stay 14 days in New Zealand before travel was allowed to the tropical island. 

Technology is so clever that your online application can get declined if any travel documents don’t match or meet travel requirements will result in denied boarding.

 Why should Kiwis book a trip this winter?

‘I had the whole island to myself’ A great retreat to refresh, reflect and restart!

The locals are super friendly and helpful with the Kia orana smile greeting!

Their service was instant. No waiting queues for food, drinks and activities, allowing me ample time to lay on the beach all day without any interruptions. (Apart from the tourist filled lagoon excursions passing by my spot). Most tourist places around the island were quiet, considering flights were full. I guess, most resorts had restaurants, pool, activities, beaches, bars, gift shops, all in the vicinity so it made sense to stay in and be safe.

It’s 23-25 degrees in winter so why not escape to paradise?

I noticed the popular day trip to outer-island Aitutaki and lagoon tour was also very popular.

The island is approximately 23kms small and easy to drive around with no traffic lights. The NZ dollar is the local currency, and the markets offer delicious food and talented arts & crafts workmanship. I loved the chilled fresh coconut to quench my thirst before trying my talent jamming on the ukulele like a local. I found a bar in town that had $10 cocktails ALL DAY Happy Hour!

With bubbles open with Australia and the Cook Islands, how did you decide where to go?

It was an easy decision. The Cook Islands has been Covid free since the beginning of the global pandemic. My mates and I had planned to go on a best-friends trip and what better destination than ‘Rarodise’. Since it was our first post pandemic trip we went all out with perks, flying Business Premium, hired a car and stayed free at a family unit across the road from the white sandy beach. An uncle brought us fresh tropical fruit each day, freshly picked from his garden.

My connection to this small island nation meant I got to catch up with friends, family, new acquaintances, and visit loved ones, current and who have passed on.

The Travel free bubble without quarantining between NZ-Australia/Cook Islands meant our location and management of Covid makes us Kiwis ideal travelers. 

The local Cook Islands residents have a free travel bubble to NZ, but it wasn’t reciprocated until now. 

Where do you think your next trip will take you? 

I was planning to visit friends in Australia, but it looks like I may be going back to Rarotonga before that happens, and why not?

Hopefully, worldwide, everyone is vaccinated, borders are open everywhere and we’re able to fly safely once more. I hope to fly back to Tahiti & Europe again soon. 

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