Rarotonga Cook Island Spotting Guide

The main gateway to the wonderful Cook Islands is located three kilometres west of the capital Avarua on the edge of the island of Rarotonga. You’d be mad to come here for plane-spotting purposes alone but if you are in the area the Cook Islands is a great place to have a relaxing time and the airport does have some traffic of interest. It has a single runway and a small attractive partially open air terminal which services flights from Air New Zealand 777s, 767s and A320s to Auckland and Los Angeles as well as Virgin Australia 737s, Air Tahiti ATRs and the domestic operations of Air Rarotonga (with its Saab 340 and Embraer 110s).

Written by Richard Stretton / May 2012

 Rating Movements
Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information Runways 08/26
2.328 m (7.638 ft)
Terminals 2010 Terminal
All operations
Spotting Information Ladder Not required
Car Recommended
Restrooms not at the spots! inside the terminal
Drinks/Food supermarket & gas stations near the airport and in Avarua
Hotel Many and varied
Season All year though wet season is Dec-March
 Runway Usage  08/26 For all traffic

Spot #1 – Terminals Check-In Area – Ramp and runway
WHERE The terminal check-in area is open to the air and between the check-in and security there is an open waiting / picnic area from which good views can be had through a wire fence.
WHAT The main ramp and runway can be seen clearly.
TIME Good spot for almost the whole day though traffic is very brisk so its only really worthwhile when you know something is arriving and you’ve been to the end of runway points first.
MISCELLANEOUS There are toilets and food stalls at the terminal
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #2 – Runway 08 End
WHERE At the western end of the runway the road passes very close and all traffic will come very low across the fence. It is a popular spot when the widebodies are landing.
WHAT Landings when 08 in use.
MISCELLANEOUS Visit the facilities next to the airport. here is absolutely nothing.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150 mm
Spot #3 – Southern perimeter road
WHERE The inner island ring road (Ara Metua) runs along the southern perimeter of the airfield and in places you can get views of the ramp especially the Air Rarotonga hangar.
WHAT The main ramp and runway can be seen clearly.
MISCELLANEOUS Visit the facilities next to the airport. Here is absolutely nothing except a small shop a few kms up the road.
FOCAL LENGTH 150-300 mm

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