Although the local government mints some unusual coins and a $3 note, the New Zealand dollar is the medium of exchange in the Cook Islands. At the time of this writing, one New Zealand dollar is worth about US80¢/40p. The exchange rate fluctuates, so check the business sections of most daily newspapers or find the present rate on currency conversion websites such as www.xe.com.
The New Zealand Dollar, the U.S. & Canadian Dollars & the British Pound
At this writing, US$1/C$1 = approximately NZ$1.25 (or, the other way around, NZ$1 = US80¢), which is the exchange rate I used to calculate the dollar values given in this book. For British readers: At this writing, £1 = approximately NZ$2.50 (or, NZ$1 = 40p), the rate used to calculate the pound values below. Note: International exchange rates fluctuate daily and sometimes by a lot. So the values in this table may not be the same when you travel to the Cook Islands. Use the following table only as a guide. Find the current rates at www.xe.com.
How to Get Local Currency
Westpac Bank, ANZ Bank, and the Bank of the Cook Islands have offices west of the traffic circle on the main road in Avarua. Westpac and ANZ have ATMs here and at other locations around the island. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm (4pm at ANZ Bank). GlobalEX/Western Union, in Mana Court west of the traffic circle (tel. 29-907), changes currency and traveler's checks, often at better rates than the banks.
American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are widely accepted by hotels and restaurants on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. Only the major hotels and car-rental firms accept Diner's Club cards. Discover cards are not accepted anywhere. If you're going to Aitutaki or another outer island, you can use credit cards at the larger hotels and some restaurants, but not everywhere. Therefore, carry cash or small-denomination traveler's checks.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.