Australians have embraced the easier access to a new Pacific Island holiday option, the Cook Islands, delivered by the launch of direct Air New Zealand services from Sydney to Rarotonga.
Backed by an extensive Cook Islands advertising campaign across major newspapers and magazines, the Sydney monorail and office tower foyers, visitor arrivals in July – the first month of the new non-stop service – grew 13% over 2010. Wholesalers are reporting strong forward bookings for the next few months.
July was a good month for the Cooks, with the island nation also debuting on influential US travel magazine Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards for Islands in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and taking out two spots on a TripAdvisor ranking of the world’s best beaches for Muri Lagoon on Rarotonga and Aitutaki Lagoon on Aitutaki.
“It’s no surprise to those in the know that the Cook Islands’ idyllic beaches cut it with the best of India, Thailand, Australia, the Phillippines, Bali and New Caledonia per TripAdvisor,” says Cook Islands Tourism General Manager Australia Kerryn Cook.
“To then have Travel + Leisure’s authoritative readers vote the Cook Islands among their favourite islands based on their experience of our people, food and dining, activities, natural attractions and value is a wonderful validation that the Cooks delivers extraordinary holidays.”
Schedule change to Saturday direct service
From 3 September the new weekly direct flight will change from a Tuesday to a Saturday departure, with NZ0060 departing Sydney at 9pm and arriving Rarotonga at 7am the same day, returning on Friday afternoons as NZ0061, arriving back in Sydney at 7.50pm Saturday.
“This schedule change to a weekend departure makes the Cook Islands an even easier proposition for those who want their holiday to fit in with the regular working week,” says Ms Cook.
Direct flying time is six hours from Sydney and 7 hours 15 minutes from Rarotonga. There are also frequent connections via Auckland with both Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.
Passengers on the direct service enjoy full inflight entertainment, 23kg checked baggage and meals and refreshments on a Boeing 767 configured 24 Business and 204 Economy seats.