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 Rarotonga - Profile

Location

Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands and is where government resides. Circular and only 32 km in circumference, it is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests provide a dramatic backdrop to a palm-fringed shore.

The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, however there is no navigable lagoon, or free anchoring here.

Avatiu Harbour underwent a huge harbour realignment and dredging project to straighten the east quay and dredge the basin to 10m. This project was completed at the end of 2012 and the harbour has now re-opened to visting yachts.

The end result is a better arrangement for yachts, however locals warn that the harbour is now even more exposed and open to the north winds and seas brought on by frontal passages, due to the additional dredging (luckily most of the weather comes from the ESE).

Position 21° 12.06' S, 159° 47.02' W (Avarua harbour entrance)

Clearance

See Cook Islands Formalities for complete clearance information.

The harbour authorities request you send information 72 hours, 48 hrs and  24 hours in advance to either:

Saungaki Rasmussen (Harbour Master)
Email: Saungaki@ports.co.ck

or

Andre Tuiravakai (Port Operations Manager)
Email:  andret@ports.co.ck

With the following information:-
- Estimated date of arrival and departure.
- Sailing vessel description: length, beam, draft and gross tonnage.
- Sailing vessel mast height (there is a maximum of 28 meters, but if over other solutions are possible).

On arrival, fly the "Q" flag.

It is important to call PORT CONTROL on Ch 16 upon arrival. Working channel is 12. Note this is not monitored.

It is necessary to make prior arrangements is needing to clear into the country on weekends.

The Port Operations manager will direct yachts where to moor. Official will visit the yacht. It is important nobody goes ashore before clearance is complete.

There is a fumigation fee to pay.

The Aviatiu Harbour  fees are paid (in cash) at the Harbour Master's Office Mon-Friday.

Clearing Out

The departure fees are also paid to the Harbour Master's Office. These fees must be paid by 2:00 pm on a Friday if you plan to leave on the weekend. Then you must walk into town to the Immigration Office (by the Post Office). Each person on board must fill out their own departure card. These cards, along with a crew list form, are submitted to Immigration and they will then stamp your passports.  The Customs office is in the same building and is the final stop. A flat fee for officers' time is paid to Customs

Last updated May 2015.

Docking

As an alternative to mooring in Avatiu Harbour, yachts can anchor in the open ocean roadstead off town.  However, with the Trade Winds blowing it can be rougher at anchor here than at sea. The holding is terrible; flat hard coral with a couple of inches of sand over it.

Mooring in Avatiu Harbour

The harbour redesign has meant that there is more draft (10m) and the harbour now even has port and starboard entry buoys. Mooring is still at the Southern end of the main harbour with stern to anchoring (Med style using own anchors). There is now straight access to sea when moored, so less shelter than there was previously, particularly with a northerly swell. Surge can be a problem here.

Be prepared to use the dinghy to take lines ashore when mooring up.

A height restriction of 27m is in place at the north end of the wharf as yacht masts obstruct aircraft taking off from the nearby airport.

Harbour dues are charged on a daily rate. Harbour facilities include a very basic washroom and shower.  A key deposit of NZ $30 must be paid.  You get $10 back upon return of the key.

There are garbage and recycling bins near the Harbour Master's office.

Whilst this report Tips for Mooring in Avatiu Harbour was written in 2010, much of the advice is still current.

Last updated August 2013.

Harbour Master
Ports Authority , PO Box 84, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Tel:+682 28814 Fax:+682 21191
Contact this office for Cook Islands maritime queries. They also sell charts for the Cook Islands.
The office is between Avatiu Harbour and the road, conveniently across from the Coconut Bar. New Harbour Master 2013 Saungaki Rasmussen.

13 Beaufort
13 Beaufort says:
Jun 25, 2015 11:42 PM

Departure tax is $66.30 p.p
Customs fees $ 57.20
Harbour dues $2.45 per meter (monohull) per day

Del Elson
Del Elson says:
Aug 03, 2014 05:30 AM

Do not buoy your anchor in Avatiu harbour. It's likely that the buoy will be in the way of shipping and you will probably be asked to remove it.

wildfox
wildfox says:
Aug 24, 2013 09:17 PM

All there mooring information is correct; surge is a major problem if there is any N in the wind. All officials now come to the harbor, not Trader Jacks. Do not go ashore until you have permission! The harbor master is a great guy, very helpful. Anthony sv Wild Fox

saungaki
saungaki says:
Aug 11, 2013 07:18 AM

Andre Tuiravakai is the ports operation manager

Departure tax is now 65 dollars

27 meters is the air restriction

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