We have visited the Cook Islands many times and this is the first time this has happened.
The toll keeper told me that the landowners were charging this fee to repair the road. My understanding is that the road was built by the Cook Islands government. Therefore surely they should be maintaining it?
Judging from the number of walkers and vehicles using the road to Wigmore’s waterfall the land owners are making a very good profit. The Cook Islands SPCA told me that as part of the fees arrangement half the toll would be paid to the SPCA. However, the SPCA have not received a cent they tell me, nor is there evidence of any road repair. It is not cheap to holiday in Rarotonga and this kind of money-grabbing activity is disincentive to visit.