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Cook Islands: Best Prepaid SIM Card Buying Guide (2023)

The Cook Islands – known for its beaches, caves & relaxed atmosphere.

As one of the Pacific Islands, it is a popular travel destination for those who just want to relax.

And I do not blame them – the Cook Islanders are chill, and so is the pace of life.

So, what can you do in the Cook Islands? Quite some things.

Enjoy your time at one of the many beaches, for sure.

Perhaps enjoy the nightlife and bust some moves with the Cook Islanders (although they will probably be better dancers than you). 😜

Or participate in one of the many watersport activities, like stand-up paddling.

Overall, you should not be bored when in the Cook Islands.

But you should know that the Cook Islands is not cheap. Far from it.

And you could make your experience much more expensive by roaming in the Cook Islands.

You are better off getting local SIM cards, like a Cook one, to enjoy local rates, which are almost always better than international roaming.

Luckily, Cook Islands SIM cards are available to travelers too.

So, how expensive are SIM cards in the Cook Islands?

You can get a Cook SIM card for 20 NZD (13 USD) from Vodafone (formerly BlueSky) in their stores or from resellers, like convenience stores and kiosks. The Vodafone Travel SIM card is sold for 49 NZD (31.70 USD) with 5 GB, 30 minutes & 300 SMS. SIM cards are also sold at Rarotonga International Airport (RAR).

To some, these prices may sound expensive.

But these are normal prices in Oceania… so there is not much you can do about it.

Especially when Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands) is the sole mobile operator in the country.

Ah well 🤷🏿‍♂️.

In this guide, I will go over everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the Cook Islands. Let's have a look?

Buying a SIM Card in the Cook Islands Guide (logo of Vodafone)

Original publication: 30th of January 2020. Last updated: 7th of November 2022.


Table of Contents

Can You Buy a SIM Card in the Cook Islands?

Anyone is allowed to buy a Cook SIM card, including tourists and visitors, from Vodafone (formerly BlueSky) without restrictions.

Your phone has to support the frequencies used in the Cook Islands.

Furthermore, your phone needs to be unlocked (SIM-lock free) to use a Cook SIM card.

Where Can You Buy a SIM Card in the Cook Islands?

You can get a Cook SIM card in Vodafone (formerly BlueSky) stores. Resellers, like post offices, newsstands & grocery stores, also sell SIM cards. They are also sold at Rarotonga International Airport (RAR).

You can expect to pay the following for Cook SIM cards:

  • Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands): 25 NZD

The following mobile operators also have SIM cards targeting tourists:

  • Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands): 49 NZD (Travel SIM)

For up-to-date NZD:your currency (let's say AUD) exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

  • Find out how much SIM cards cost in every country, including data-only SIM cards and tourist SIM cards, offered by each mobile operator + information about starter benefits (lookup tool)
SIM Card Prices Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Can You Use Your Phone in the Cook Islands?

The Cook Islands uses GSM technology for mobile communications. CDMA phones will not work in the Cook Islands. If your phone has a SIM card slot, then it supports GSMA (99% of the phones do support GSM nowadays).

Traditional European frequencies are used in the Cook Islands, which are mostly used in ITU Regions 1 and 3 (Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe & Oceania).

The Americas (North-, Central– & South America + the Caribbean – ITU Region 2) use American frequencies, which differ from the European ones.

ITU Regions Map
By Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) – Own work, using this file by Denelson83, CC BY-SA 2.5

If you bought your phone in Africa, Asia, Europe, or Oceania (ITU regions 1 and 3), you should not experience any issues with using your phone in the Cook Islands.

If you purchased your phone in the Americas (ITU Region 2) and and have a low/medium-end device (without Tri-Band or Quad-Band) support, then there is a possibility you cannot use your phone when in the Cook Islands or can only use slower networks (3G or 2G).

If you have a medium/high-end device with Tri-Band or Quad-Band support, you can use your phone in the Cook Islands (to some extent) – also on 4G/LTE .

Mobile Operators, Networks & Frequencies in the Cook Islands

The Cook Islands has one mobile operator offering prepaid services:

  • Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

The following frequencies are used in the Cook Islands:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 28) & 1800 MHz (Band 3)
  • 5G NR: N/A – rollout not announced yet

You can learn more about frequencies in the video below.

To check whether your phone will work in the Cook Islands, check out this page by Will My Phone Work (may be outdated or inaccurate at times).

Again, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator (meaning you have to roam internationally or buy another unlocked phone that does support the frequencies listed above).

If you want to learn how international roaming works, this guide explains it in-depth. If you wonder why it is often so expensive to roam, this article explains the hidden reason they do not want you to know.

VoLTE & VoWiFi in the Cook Islands

VoLTE (Voice over LTE (4G) – also known as HD Voice) is not available in the Cook Islands – the same counts for VoWiFi (Voice over WiFi – also known as WiFi calling).

This means that your phone will downgrade to 2G or 3G when making a call in the Cook Islands (unlike mobile operators that do support VoLTE – then you can still use 4G/LTE while calling).

VoWiFi is, as the name implies, calling on a WiFi connection as opposed to on a cellular network.

5G NR in the Cook Islands

5G NR is not available in the Cook Islands as of 2022 and the Cook government has not made any indications of when they will auction 5G licenses.

Best SIM Card in the Cook Islands

If you want to buy the best SIM card in the Cook Islands, I recommend going with Vodafone (formerly BlueSky) because it is your only option (monopoly).

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SIM Card Registration in the Cook Islands

SIM card registration, with the use of your personal information (such as your passport), is not required when buying a SIM card in the Cook Islands.

  • Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Cook Islands Mobile Internet Prices & Insights

Flag of the Cook Islands

Being redone.

Currency in the Cook Islands

5 New Zealand Dollar Bank Note
© Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ)/Te Pūtea Matua

The Cook Islands use the New Zealand Dollar with the symbol NZD (which will be used throughout this guide).

However, prices are often listed as just $ & NZ$. For example, 25 NZD = NZ$/$25.

For reference, below are some exchange rates between NZD and USD (US Dollars):

  • 1 NZD = 0.65 USD
  • 10 NZD = 6.25 USD
  • 100 NZD = 62.55 USD

For up-to-date NZD:your currency (let's say AUD – Australian Dollar) exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.

Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).

I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.

Open a Wise account for FREE!

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Cook Prepaid SIM Cards

Below, I will guide you through Vodafone Cook Islands, and go through:

  • Background information
  • Mobile coverage
  • SIM card types, prices, and availability
  • Recharge/top-up information
  • Combo plans, data plans, and special packs (such as social media packs) 

With that being said, let’s see what the Cook Islands has to offer to us.


Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

Vodafone Logo
© Vodafone

Vodafone Cook Islands, just Vodafone and formerly BlueSky Cook Islands, is the sole mobile operator in the Cook Islands.

As the Cook Islands has a population of more than 17 000, there is no incentive to have two mobile operators operating in this nation.

However, as Vodafone has free reign and a relatively small market, mobile data rates are relatively high in the Cook Islands.

Vodafone, as a company, is active in Africa (mostly as Vodacom), Asia, Europe, the Middle East & Oceania.

Vodafone uses the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 700 MHz (Band 28) & 1800 MHz (Band 3)
  • 5G NR: N/A – rollout not announced yet
  • VoLTE: No
  • VoWiFi: No

This is what you will learn about Vodafone:

* Coverage
* How to Get a Vodafone SIM Card & SIM Card Price
* Topping Up Options & Methods + Balance Check
* Plans & Packages
* APN/Internet Settings

Coverage – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

Vodafone has extensive coverage in the populated areas in the Cook Islands.

The islands with the best 3G and 4G/LTE coverage are Atiu, Aitutaki, Mauke, Mitiaro & Rarotonga.

The other islands have 2G coverage if you are lucky.

Below is Vodafone's coverage map of Rarotonga produced by Speedtest:

Here is the map of Aitutaki produced by Speedtest:

Below is Mangaia's coverage map produced by Speedtest:

SIM Card Price – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

You can get a Vodafone SIM card for 25 NZD with 20 NZD credit in Vodafone stores and from resellers, like grocery stores, gas stations & convenience stores. SIM cards are also sold at Rarotonga International Airport (RAR).

Short-term visitors and tourists can also get the Vodafone Travel SIM – Vodafone's tourist offering.

For 49 NZD, you will get 5 GB of data, 30 local/international minutes 1 & 300 local/international SMS 1 for 15 days.

PriceDataLocal/International Minutes 1Local/International SMS 1Validity
49 NZD5 GB 30 minutes300 SMS 15 days 

1 for local use and to Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, the United Kingdom & the United States

Vodafone Cook Islands Travel SIM Card

You may have to text T3 to 888 to activate your Vodafone Travel SIM card.

Do note that Vodafone Travel SIM cards cannot be renewed.

  • Find out how much SIM cards cost in every country, including data-only SIM cards and tourist SIM cards, offered by each mobile operator + information about starter benefits (lookup tool)
SIM Card Prices Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Vodafone has no eSIMs – not even for postpaid customers.

My preferred eSIM providers, Airalo and Nomad, do not have eSIMs for the Cook Islands (nor does any other eSIM provider), so I guess you will be out of luck in terms of eSIMs here. 😔

  • Find out about the best local eSIMs, local travel eSIMs & regional travel eSIMs for every country (lookup tool)
Best Local & Travel eSIMs Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Be aware that there is no VoLTE nor VoWiFi with Vodafone.

Dial *888# to access the Vodafone menu.

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Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

Vodafone top-up vouchers are sold in Vodafone stores, grocery stores, corner shops & electronics shops throughout the Cook Islands.

To top up your Vodafone SIM card, dial *888# and follow the instructions.

You can also recharge online with (international) debit and credit cards.

Dial *888# to check your Vodafone balance.

You can also top up and check your balance on the My Vodafone Cook Islands app (Android/iOS).

Vodafone Cook Islands App
© Vodafone Cook Islands

Packages, Plans, Bundles & Offers – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

Vodafone has two data-featured plans: Prepay Bundles (data) & Midnight Data Deals.

All Vodafone plans can be activated on the My Vodafone Cook Islands app.

I will list all the prices in NZD (New Zealand Dollar).

To convert NZD to your currency (let's say AUD) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

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Prepay Bundles – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

The Prepay Bundles are data plans with data (without 5G NR access).

Prepay Bundles can be activated on the My Vodafone Cook Islands app:

PricePlanDataValidity
3 NZD24HR$3600 MB24 hours
5 NZD3DAY$51 GB3 days 
10 NZD7DAY$102 GB7 days 
30 NZD10DAY$306 GB10 days 
Vodafone Cook Islands Prepay Bundles
Midnite Data Deals – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

The Midnite Data Deals are data plans (without 5G NR access) to be used between 0:00 and 7:00.

Midnite Data Deals can be activated by texting the My Vodafone Cook Islands app:

PricePlanDataValidity 1
5 NZD24HR10 GB24 hours
10 NZD3NITE20 GB3 nights
15 NZD5NITE30 GB5 nights
20 NZD5NITE40 GB5 nights

1 for between 0:00 and 7:00

Vodafone Cook Islands Midnite Data Deals

APN/Internet Settings – Vodafone Cook Islands (formerly BlueSky Cook Islands)

  • Name: Vodafone
  • APN: internet

Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.

Jump back to the Table of Contents.

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The Preferred Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in the Cook Islands

Getting a SIM card from Vodafone would be your only option when considering a Cook SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Cards in Other Oceanian Countries

Visiting other countries in Oceania? Check out my Oceania SIM card buying guide, covering other Oceanian nations, such as:

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.


Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

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Learn About Your Phone Travel Options

You can buy local prepaid SIM cardsinternational SIM cardsmobile hotspots, or roam internationally.

Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.

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