FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
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Prices in the Cook Islands are higher than you might expect. Many items, such as produce, have to be imported. Buying alcoholic drinks in resorts is always expensive—visitors might want to check supermarkets and liquor stores in Avarua for better deals on wine and beers.
The currency in the Cook Islands is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). As of this writing, US1$ equals NZ$1.23. Westpac and ANZ are the main banks and are located at the airport and in the main town of Avarua on the island of Rarotonga. Both have ATMs. Cook Islands's own coins, which can only be used on the islands, make good souvenirs.
There is a 12.5% value added tax on all goods and services, which is usually included in the quoted price. There is also a departure tax (except on domestic flights) of NZ$30, which must be paid in cash. This tax is paid at the Westpac Bank at either the airport or in Avarua.
Tipping is not encouraged in the Cook Islands. End your purchases with a smile and by saying "meitaki ma'ata," which means "thank you." Some say the Polynesians perceive the tip as receiving "something for nothing" and then believe they owe the tipper something in return. Bargaining and haggling can also be taken as an insult.