Work and Travel in Cook Islands
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN COOK ISLANDS FOR TRAVELLERS
The Cook Islands are a series of 15 islands on the Pacific Rim. If you’ve ever wanted to go as far away from home as possible, you don’t get much more remote than the Cook Islands.
So what do you need to know about work and travel in the Cook Islands?
Forget about the luxury resorts and pristine beaches. This is the main reason why people come to this territory. Not everything is a five-star resort in this self-governing territory. There are local people who need your help because there aren’t a lot of options for careers on this island. Some people describe it as like Hawaii fifty years ago.
Our travel guide to the Cook Islands (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/rarotonga-and-the-cook-islands) is going to show you everything you need to know about volunteering here.
1. Clean Up the Coastline in the Cook Islands
One of the volunteering opportunities in the Cook Islands involves cleaning up the coastline. Unfortunately, as you travel in the Cook Islands, you’ll see that tonnes of rubbish float onto the beaches every single year.
Charities and other initiatives have taken it upon themselves to clean up the coastline. Teams of volunteers go out onto the beaches and remove the rubbish that turns up on a regular basis.
It’s one way to make your mark and see that you’ve made your mark.
2. Volunteer in a Whale Sanctuary in the Cook Islands
The Pacific islands are famous for their whales. However, like so many other animals, they are at risk. Whether it’s pollution, fishing, or climate change the whales need to be protected. A variety of sanctuaries have been installed across the islands.
If you want to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, work in the Cook Islands in one of the whale sanctuaries there. You’ll be able to find out more about these creatures and play your part in protecting them for future generations.
3. Read to Children in the Cook Islands
For all of this territory’s unspoiled beauty, the average person living on the island isn’t rich. Literacy rates aren’t particularly high and many children struggle to get the education required to give themselves a golden future.
You could help with that by reading to children in the Cook Islands and volunteering as a teacher. Provide them with the service they need and give them something they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
The only requirement to work in the Cook Islands in this type of role is you have to be a proficient English speaker.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR COOK ISLANDS
If you want to work and travel in the Cook Islands, you need to be aware of their political situation. They’re a self-governing territory with an association agreement with New Zealand (https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/countries-and-regions/pacific/cook-islands/).
Unlike New Zealand itself, to travel in the Cook Islands you don’t need a visa, no matter where you come from. In practice, the chances are you will need to apply for a Kiwi visa (https://www.govt.nz/browse/immigration-and-visas/applying-for-a-visitors-visa/how-to-apply-for-a-visitor-visa/) as most affordable flights go through New Zealand anyway.
The visa exemption (https://www.discovercookislands.com/cook-islands/about-the-cooks/visas-and-immigration) is for a total of 31 days. But it’s easy to extend your visa on the Cook Islands up to a maximum of six months.
If you do choose to get a full visa in advance, you should go to a Kiwi embassy and make your application there.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN COOK ISLANDS
Spring is an excellent time to come to the Cook Islands because this is just after the rainy season. Practically every volunteer opportunities in the Cook Islands you can think of will be available at this time of year. However, we recommend that you opt for outdoor projects.
Cleaning up the coastline after the rainy season, helping with the conservation of whales, and working in the various forests across the islands are all great projects for spring.
The summer season is a continuation of the hot, dry season. This lasts the whole summer. Generally, you’ll experience hotter weather on the southern islands, such as Aitutaki and Rarotonga. But the difference in temperature is relatively small.
You should refer back to the previous section for more information on the seasonal skills available throughout the summer season.
Most of autumn covers the dry season, but from the beginning of November the wet season ends. Throughout the wet season, it can be difficult to take advantage of the same projects. However, there are still options available for you.
We recommend that you work with the elderly or children. Many of these care centres are crying out for foreign volunteers. You don’t need exiting qualifications, either. Some of these projects just require you to keep them company throughout the day.
Another option is to work in a school. Native English speakers can teach children to read, how to improve their levels of English, and more.
Most schools do require you to have some existing qualifications, though. A TEFL qualification is commonly required, or the equivalent of.
The winter season is the worst time of year to work and travel in the Cook Islands. Travel in the Cook Islands can be difficult because this is the cyclone season.
Most of the time, the territory doesn’t experience any significant cyclones, but it can make getting around difficult.
Refer back to the ‘Autumn’ section for further information on some of the things you can do during the rainy season.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN COOK ISLANDS
Believe it or not, the Cook Islands used to be a British territory, in the same way that New Zealand did. Travel in the Cook Islands and you will still see a lot of the traditional culture. It survived, and so you’ll need to adjust to this type of culture shock.
When you work in the Cook Islands you’ll experience a similar level of friendliness and understanding that you would find in New Zealand and other Western countries.
It’s truly a paradise on Earth and the locals who live here make it that way.
Do you want to work and travel in the Cook Islands this year?
- Edited on Oct 31 2018 by Marichka