Air Rarotonga managing directory Ewan Smith says numbers of travellers from Rarotonga are up, as is usual at this time of year. Fortunately, the Air New Zealand flight delays that have plagued many travellers this week have not affected the smooth running of flights apart from “a couple of occasions where we have had a few delays,” says Smith.
“With up to 15 departures each day we are typically busy for this time of year. Many overseas-based Cook Islanders return home for Christmas events such as family reunions which also occur at this time of year.”
Two Taio Shipping Services vessels will continue to ferry passengers “home” to the outer islands for Christmas. Owner Tapi Taio says all the islands are popular destinations at this time of the year and there will be about equal numbers of “drop-offs” for all of the populated islands. He says while many will travel from home in Rarotonga, there is also a fair number of visiting Cook Islanders from Australia and New Zealand. While Penrhyn is the furthest island from Rarotonga at 758 miles, the route to Penrhyn will also include Manihiki, a four-five-day journey.
He says while most are visiting family, some passengers will take the journey around the islands over a three to four-month period.
This year Taio Shipping has made 14 trips to Manihiki with extra trips booked over Christmas.
“One Australian lot have had their trip planned for a year and it’s taken a lot of correspondence and planning.
“We have to have them back to Raro in time for their plane.”