It feels a long, long, long way away …
But when (or if) the Cook Islands-New Zealand air-bridge ever opens, Air NZ hopes to introduce a new 3264km direct connection between Rarotonga and Wellington.
That would supplement the existing flights out of Auckland.
New Zealand-based travel agent Sharon Martin, Lifestyle Holidays manager at First Travel Group, confirmed they already had marketing materials ready to go, as soon as the air-bridge is announced.
The new Covid outbreak in New Zealand had put a hold on plans to inflate the travel bubble, she said, but New Zealanders had been “keen as” to holiday in Cook Islands, most wanting to travel as early as the September school holidays.
“If you’re from Wellington or the South Island, going through Auckland deters people,” she said.
“For once, Cook Islands have everyone’s attention – there’s no Bali, no Fiji, no Queensland. And there’s a lot of people with Air New Zealand credits to spend.”
But Wellingtonians who think they can now pack their snorkels and swimming togs should think again. Because with the temporary border closure announced on Thursday night by Cook Islands, they could be a long time between drinks.
Rarotonga International Airport boss Joe Ngamata said he’d had no official notification – and at present the airport was operating week to week.
“Our only assurance that a flight is coming is if they file a flight plan in New Zealand – and they do that just two hours before it leaves.”
Ngamata said the airline would only be planning the direct flights if it believed there was demand in the lower North Island – and also in Cook Islands. He pointed out that many people had family in Porirua, north of Wellington.
As for him, he would rather holiday in Auckland. Indeed, he, wife Moari and thei granddaughter were meant to have visited Auckland in May – but that’s been indefinitely postponed.
Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown said the New Zealand Government should remember the economic benefits of an air-bridge would run both ways – Cook Islanders would also visit New Zealand and spend money there.
But even Sharon Martin, the travel agent, struggled a little to sound wholly excited about a beach holiday in Wellington, suggesting the national museum Te Papa might be a better option.
So readers, what’s it to be? Would you rather holiday in Wellington or Cook Islands?
COOK ISLANDS v WELLINGTON
Dining out: At $39.50 for a three-course dinner watching the sunset on the beach, renowned chef Phillip Nordt at OTB is just one of the top restaurateurs offering stunning fresh, Pacific cuisine for even tastier prices. Wellington, too, has great restaurants like Boulcott St Bistro – though a three-course set menu there will set you back $85. And there aren’t many windows ...
The mountains: Te Rua Manga, Rarotonga’s world-famous Needle, offers the most stunning 350 degree views of the Pacific Ocean as you’ll find anywhere in this hemisphere. In Wellington, you can walk up to the wind turbine above suburban Brooklyn.
The beaches: Sure, One Foot Island or Vaima’anga are stunning beyond compare – but Day’s Bay on the east side of Wellington Harbour does have an excellent ice cream kiosk. Just watch that the howling southerly wind doesn’t blow the scoop off the cone.
Climate: It will be tolerable enough for the young yachties out on Muri Lagoon tomorrow, at 23C, though the weather may be a bit damp in Raro in the late afternoon. Wellington will rain all morning and into the afternoon – with a peak temperature of 9C.