Still in the dark on licence rules

Friday August 11, 2017 Published in Letters to the Editor

My partner and I have just returned to New Zealand after eight days’ holiday in Rarotonga. It was our first time to the island.


We were extremely impressed with the service, accommodation, activities, food and sights and agreed it was one of the best holidays we have had.

Unfortunately, there was one incident that potentially could have undone all the above.

On day two, we had our accommodation host booked me into sit the scooter theory test at 9am the following day. I arrived at 8:50 and stood in line. Thirty minutes later I reached the desk, paid the money and was handed the application form. I filled it out then joined the back of the line again. Around 10am a small group of us were led into an area to sit the test.

After the test myself and four others were informed we had failed.

I asked for the answers to the three questions I had got wrong, on the off chance they might have interpreted my answer incorrectly.

Very rudely, they told me no they could not, and told me to leave. Surprised at their response I continued for another 20 minutes to ask to see the answers as hiring a scooter was one of the main activities I was looking forward to doing on the island. I finally convinced them to show me one of the three questions.

Still in the dark on licence rules

It was, “When must you turn on your vehicle’s headlights?”

My response was “From 30 minutes before sunset on day one, until 30 minutes after sunrise on the next day”. It turns out the answer is, “from 30 minutes after sunset on day one, until 30 minutes before sunrise on the next day”.

We argued the logic behind this but the police officer did not care. We asked to speak to her superior.  After another 10 minutes her superior reluctantly came out front and we asked her the same question. Her answer was the same as ours. They both looked very embarrassed then yelled at us to leave the building.

The next day we checked the light outside at 25minutes after sunset and 25 minutes before sunrise and it was almost completely dark. This seems to be an obvious mistake in the Cook Islands road rules. I wonder how many hundreds of tourists have been failed for answering this question incorrectly (or correctly depending how you look at it)?

This two and a half hour-long and very unpleasant experience really upset my partner and I and it took us a good 24 hours to recover.

The rudeness of the police and their unwillingness to show us the questions and the new scooter licensing rules are Rarotonga’s weakest link and the island runs the risk of turning tourists away because of this nonsense. I hope the process and the questions are reviewed by this time next year as we will be thinking twice about returning if they haven’t.


            Richard Clark

1 comment

  • Comment Link DEAN AND JULIE Sunday, 13 August 2017 19:47 posted by DEAN AND JULIE

    hi guys sorry to hear about your run in with the locals and yes some of the locals can be less welcoming,we've been up to raro every year for the last six years and absolutely love it,got engaged there and will be married next year in aitutaki hopefully all goes well.
    We have extended family connections up there and here in nz paticularly in mangnaia southeast of raro and i know when the local people learn of this we tend to get a more positive response where we start to fit in and yes i know if it wasnt for tourism the island would struggle but thats what they can be like unfortunately and in my personal opinion they should have passed you as they should have seen that the turning on headlight rules should be the same as nz or at least the benefit of the doubt.actually im surprised they just didnt take your $20 and give you a licence just like they did with me 6 years ago unless you dont have your full licence but hey dont give up on the cooks,its a beautiful place which is why we plan to buy a beach house there one day if we can and possibly retire there,anyway all the best and sorry for your bad experience.

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