Cook Islands travel bubble: Here's what flights will cost
New Zealanders planning to spend the school holidays in the Cook Islands should book early as quarantine-free flights to the region are being snapped up.
On Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a travel bubble between the Cook Islands and New Zealand would open on May 17.
One-way quarantine-free travel from the Cooks to New Zealand has been possible since January.
Following the announcement, Air New Zealand confirmed it would fly to the Cook Islands two to three times a week from May 17.
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The airline expected to operate daily flights to the islands from July, in time for the school holidays.
On Tuesday, Air New Zealand’s website showed the first available one-way flight from Auckland to Rarotonga was on May 18, at a cost of $620 per adult for seat only or $670 for “the works”. The works fares allow for one checked bag, a carry-on bag, meal and drinks, in-flight entertainment and seat select.
However, that fare appeared to be an anomaly, with return flights from Auckland to the Cooks a few days later starting at $613 seat only and $773 for the works.
Prices were steeper in the July school holidays, with the cheapest return fare from Auckland coming in at $776 seat only and $876 for the works.
But that wasn't putting travellers off, with travel agents reporting strong demand for school holiday flights and packages.
House of Travel customer engagement director, Celeste Ryall, said interest in the Cook Islands had been strong since the first mention of a possible travel bubble.
“Since the announcement yesterday, we’ve had a significant spike in both enquiries and bookings.
“Peak travel periods have been filling fast, with school holidays particularly popular.”
While travel pricing was always dynamic, current airfares were similar to those seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, Ryall said.
“We are yet to see the levels of promotional fares that were available pre-Covid. However, like anything, pricing will fluctuate based on demand and capacity.”
Flight Centre managing director David Coombes said customers were confident about travelling to the Cooks as the risks were seen as similar to domestic travel.
Most of the agency's bookings for travel to the Cooks were expected to come from holidaymakers, Coombes said.
“We have already been taking a number of holiday bookings, and the July school holiday period is selling well.”