The Cook Islands is celebrating 50 years of independence from New Zealand this year and great deals have just gone on sale to join the party.
Until 28 April Air New Zealand is offering $200 off all return flights to the Cook Islands, either on its weekly direct service on Saturday from Sydney to Rarotonga or daily services via Auckland. Travel ex Australia between 26 April-26 June; 26 July-18 September and return 26 April-8 July; 22 July-25 September 2015. Air New Zealand operates frequent services from Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to Auckland, from where Air New Zealand flies to Rarotonga daily.
Check the www.sale.cookislands.travel website for a host of air and land packages from as low as $899, as well as new videos tempting Australians to ‘Come Visit Cook Islands’.
Spacifica Travel is offering a five night package for a family of four at The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa for $3499 ex Sydney ($3999 ex Melbourne or Brisbane) including return airfares, breakfasts and kids club – a saving of more than $850.
Or 20% off accommodation at the luxurious Sea Change Villas for five night stays in a lagoon view villa between 11 August and 25 September from $1599 per person twin share ex Sydney ($1699 ex Melbourne and Brisbane), including return airfares and a self-catering starter pack – a saving of more than $550.
Enjoy a Rarotonga and Aitutaki Combo staying three nights in the new 4.5 star Nautilus Resort on Rarotonga and three nights in an opulent villa at Aitutaki Escape from $4655 pp twin share ex Sydney from 1 May-22 September (checkwww.sale.cookislands.travel for travel dates from other cities).
50 years of self-government
The focus of the 50th anniversary celebrations will be the annual two-week festival of nationhood known as Te Maeva Nui from 23 July to 7 August. Visitors can look forward to many spectacular performances with the cream of the nation’s renowned dancers, drummers and singers gathering in the capital Rarotonga from all of the 15 islands for competitions and exhibitions throughout the fortnight.
The festival kicks off with a decorative float parade through the main town of Avarua on Friday 24 July. That evening a host of resident and expat artists will take to three street stages for a free open air concert called Imene Mai (sing with me) featuring the star performers and defining music of the past five decades. After 10.30pm the street party gravitates to the many bars around town with live performances until 2am. On Sunday 26 July, visitors should make a beeline for the National Stadium choral competition where villages and church groups will strive to outdo each other singing the traditional hymns and contemporary choralling which is such an integral part of the Cook Islands lifestyle.