Air New Zealand has resumed daily flights between Auckland and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands following the re-starting of a travel bubble between the two nations.

The first flight, NZ946, took off this morning from Auckland with “a planeload of Kiwis keen for some R&R, helping give a much-needed boost to the local economy where tourism makes up 75% of Cook Islands GDP”, according to Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer, David Morgan.

He said the airline, which has deployed the flagship Boeing 787-9 on the route, has seen strong bookings during January, traditionally a busy period for travel with New Zealand school holidays.

Air New Zealand’s flagship Boeing 787-9

“We’re really excited to help Kiwis start 2022 off with some relaxing island time, with strong demand for these flights in January and some seat availability in late January and February for travellers looking for an island escape,” Morgan said.

In 2019, almost 110,000 New Zealanders headed to Rarotonga, with Kiwis comprising two-thirds of all visitors to the Cook Islands and tourism being the mainstay of the economy.

The resumption of quarantine free travel between the nations is a welcome sight and last week, Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown, said the tourism bubble was fantastic news for the South Pacific nation.

“We are ready, we are prepared, and we are protected,” he said. “Now, it’s time.”

To be able to travel to Rarotonga, New Zealand travellers must be fully vaccinated under the Cook Islands Government’s requirements.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management