Cook Island Facts

What are the Cook Islands? Where did they come from? How big is their Island? Is it really called ‘the paradise’?

The Cook Islands are located between New Zealand and Australia in the South Pacific Ocean. They consist of 15 islands, two atolls, and several smaller islets. Their total area covers only 0.1% of the Earth’s surface.

The Cook Islands are part of the Polynesian cultural group. They share similar languages, customs, traditions, and beliefs. In addition, the Cook Islanders also speak English.

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Cook Island Facts for Kids

  • The Cook Islands cover 92 square miles.
  • English is the official language, but Maori is also spoken.
  • Cook Islands use the New Zealand Dollar as their currency. 
  • New Zealand owns the Cook Islands, but they are self-governed.
  • There are about 18,000 Cook Islanders.
  • Avarua is the capital of the Cook Islands.

Cook Islands

The Cook Islands comprises 15 coral atolls and islands scattered across 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of ocean off the southeastern coast of Australia. The Cook Islands consist of four main islands: Aitutaki, Atiu, Mauke, and Rarotonga.

They lie within the Polynesian triangle, one of the world’s most isolated regions, and are part of the free association between New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

Where are the Cook Islands?

They are located in the South Pacific Ocean and are considered part of Polynesia. There are 15 inhabited islands in total.


All the islands lie within the Tropic of Capricorn, though the southernmost one just barely so. Because the Cook Islands are tiny mid-ocean islands swept by the southeast trade wind, temperatures are generally moderate throughout the year.

Temperatures vary little among the islands; mean annual temperatures on the southern Island of Rarotonga reach around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius), while on the northernmost Island, Penrhyn, they average about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celcius).

Rarotonga receives more precipitation than Penrhyn, although both islands receive less sunlight per month than places farther north. Rainfall is irregular. Most months see some precipitation, but in some cases, no rain falls. Some months have heavy downpours, while others have very little. There is often a lag between the beginning of the rainy season and the onset of heavy rains.

In general, the climate is temperate but unpredictable. Although the islands have been inhabited for thousands of years, the climate varies yearly. Hurricanes are common, especially during the wetter months of November through April.

Plant and animal life

Rarotonga is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Coconut palms and pandanus trees dominate the landscape in the north, with a limited range of plants thriving there. Fruit trees and vegetables thrive in the fertile south.

Indigenous species include taro roots, yam tubers, bananas, breadfruit, and sweet potatoes. Introduced species include citrus fruits, tomatoes, pineapple, papaya, beans, and zucchini. Some of these are cultivated for local consumption, while others are exported around the globe.

People of the Cook Islands

Cook Islander people are of mainly Polynesian origin, although some Europeans, Chinese, and Africans live on the islands. Most of the population speaks either the Cook Islands Maori language or English. In addition, there are several indigenous languages spoken throughout the archipelago.

Most live on Rarotonga, the largest Island, where most of the population lives.

Is Rarotonga Small

Rarotonga is one of the most isolated places in the world. But it’s also one of the best destinations in the Pacific. Its main Island, Aitutaki, is just over 30km wide, making it the smallest Island in Polynesia. And while it might seem like a small place, there are plenty of things to do here. From snorkeling and diving off the coast to hiking up volcanoes and exploring caves, there’s enough to keep visitors busy for weeks.

The main road circumnavigating the entire Island means you can go almost everywhere within a maximum of 20 minutes, meaning no traffic jams and no wasted time getting stuck in queues. There are some great beaches too, including the famous white sands of Papatipu Beach. This stretch of sand is often compared to Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach due to its turquoise water and powdery white sands.

How far is the Cook Islands from Australia?

The Cook Islands are roughly 6 hours from Austral.

What is the most popular Island to visit in the Cook Islands?

The most visited Island is Rarotonga which attracts over 170,000 visitors annually. The second most visited Island is Aitutaki, followed by Manuae Island.

What are the Cook Islands famous for

The Cook Islands have been an island paradise since the 17th century when Captain James Cook first visited them. Today they are still renowned for their beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforests.

The islands’ natural beauty makes them a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

How did Cook Island get its name?

They were named after Captain James Cook, who was an English explorer. He discovered them on his third voyage around the world.

How old is the Cook Islands

Polynesian migrants from Tahiti first settled the Cook Islands around AD 1000.

The first European contact with the islands occurred in 1595 when the Spanish navigator lvaro de Mendaa de Neira sighted the Island of Pukapuka, which he named San Bernardo (Saint Bernard).

Does Cook Island have snakes?

There are no snakes on the Island whatsoever.

What do Cook Islanders wear?

Day to day, they wear casual and modest clothes. 

The traditional dress for Cook Islands people is made from coconut fiber called ‘pareu’. It is worn by men and women alike. Pareu is usually worn over a shirt and trousers.

The pareu is also used as a ceremonial garment during important occasions such as weddings and funerals.

What are Cook Islanders called?

Cook Islands Maori

Are there spiders on Cook Island

There are no spiders on the islands

Who rules the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are an archipelago nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands including Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Manuae, Atiu, Pukapuka, Mauke, Mitiaro, Rakahanga, Te-Oroa, Takuvaine, Taipi, Toau, and Tupuauea.

As a part of New Zealand, the Cook Islands are ruled by the Queen.

Polynesians have inhabited the Cook Islands for over 1000 years. They were first settled by people from Samoa around AD 1200. 

English and Cook Islands Māori are the official languages of the Cook Islands