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Cook Islands Nature and Wildlife

  • Hawksbill turtle eating seaweed
  • Tropical beach with rocks and palms
  • Ready for cooking tropical fishes
  • Cook Islands Nature & Wildlife
  • cook island vacations


The Cook Islands are home to many beautiful tropical flowers. The national flower is the Tiare Maori and is celebrated annually in November or December at the Tiare Flower Festival. For flower lovers, this is considered by many to be the best time to visit as it is when many begin to bloom.

A lot of plants and flowers found on the islands have medicinal properties. One example is the Noni plant. The roots and leaves, when made into a juice, a tonic, a poultice or a tea are believed to be a cure for many ailments. To see the true natural flora of the Cook Islands, a visit to Maire Nui Botanical Gardens on the south coast of Rarotonga should not be missed.

Nature can play an important part in the economy of the Cook Islands, not through tourism, but rather through the selling of black pearls. The northern atoll of Manihiki has a lagoon that is 2.5 miles across and is home to the black-lip pearl oyster. The black cultured pearls that come from this area are the most valued exports in the Cook Islands.



Despite not having many endemic species, the Cook Islands is home to a wide variety of wildlife both on land and in the waters around the islands and atolls. Pigs, goats and dogs are found throughout as pets, and interestingly there are no snakes or spiders. There are only six species of bird native to the Cook Islands including the rare Kakerori. The Karekori can be found on the south coast of Rarotonga in high forests and in the low forests of Atiu. Atiu Island is also known as Enuamanu which literally means Island of the Birds. It is therefore not surprising that the rare Kopeka bird lives deep in the caves found on the island.

The island of Takutea has become a wildlife sanctuary. It serves as a breeding ground for red-tailed tropic birds, red-footed boobies, terns, noddies and frigate birds. Due to the important work done on the island, guests have to have government permission before they can visit.

Whale watching is popular in Rarotonga as humpback whales visit between June and September. The Whale Outreach Organisation located in Avarua, Rarotonga was established with the goal of educating the public and monitoring sightings. There are many outreach presentations and educational activities available to visitors.

Other marine wildlife includes sea turtles, green turtles and hawksbill turtles, the latter is a critically endangered species. Diving is a popular activity due to the diversity one can witness. Grey, white and black tip reef sharks, manta rays, dolphins, chevron barracudas and coconut crabs are known to make an appearance.



Cook Islands Travel Information

At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to the Cook Islands. 

Learn about the history and culture of the Cook Islands, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about the Cook Islands' nature and wildlife, weather and geography, and 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering the Cook Islands for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our Cook Island vacations today!


Extend Your Stay

Consider an additional stopover after or before your Cook island vacation at one of Goway's other South Pacific destinations. You can choose from our selection of Australian vacationsNew Zealand vacation packages, Tahiti vacation packages or perhaps one of our Fiji resorts.



Book your Cook Islands Vacation with Goway!

With a wide choice of Cook Islands vacations and experiences, Goway’s Downunder wizards can offer you many ways to explore and enjoy the Cook Islands. Relax with a romantic tropical island stay, escape winter on a Snowbird long stay, enjoy an air-land getaway and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to the Cook Islands.

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