Cook Islands travel bubble: Air New Zealand announces Rarotonga schedule

The first flight from Auckland to the Cook Islands since the opening of the quarantine-free travel bubble has landed after departing just before 9am.

Air New Zealand flight NZ940 was operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which can carry about 300 passengers.

The airline is currently the only one to offer passenger services between Aotearoa and the Cook Islands, which it will operate two-four times per week between now and June 6, then move to operate four-five weekly services between June 7 and 27.

In July, Air NZ says it will ramp up to daily services.

At the time of publishing, the cheapest airfare on Air NZ's website before the end of June is listed at $613 return, seat only, departing Auckland June 11 and returning June 24.

Travelling on other dates can see that same seat only return airfare cost more than $1200 according to current pricing, with indicators on the website that very limited seats remain on flights scheduled for before the end of May.

What it costs to fly Air NZ Auckland to Rarotonga in June 2021.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Air NZ's chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said it's seen strong sales. 

"It's great to see strong demand for flights following the bubble announcement," she said. "It's no surprise that Kiwis are booking in a much-needed break, especially as the temperature drops at home. In 2019 we saw almost 110,000 New Zealanders head to Rarotonga."

Passengers will be required to wear face masks on flights to and from Rarotonga and screening questions will be asked at check-in.

People will only be allowed on a flight to the Cook Islands if they've been in New Zealand for the preceding 14 days. 

As the threat of COVID-19 remains, Air NZ has extended its flexibility policy so customers on flights departing before the end of the year can exchange them for credit, or make changes to the date or time of the flight without having to pay a change fee. A fare difference cost may be applied, however. 

Tuesday's NZ940 flight also delivered doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the Cook Islands vaccination rollout.