The official Cook Islands currency is the New Zealand dollar which is divided into 100 cents and is expressed with the dollar sign, similar to Australian currency. Usually preceded by NZ$ it is distinguished from other currencies featuring dollar denominations. The New Zealand dollar is one of the world's 10 most-traded currencies and is the currency used in the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands currency is divided into 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 coins and $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. NZD$1.16 is equal to AUD$1.00 and USD$0.92. In terms of cost of living in the Cook Islands, its price point is fairly middle range in that it is a little more expensive than Fiji but a lot less than French Polynesia and Tahiti. Part of the Cook Islands economy is the VAT or Value Added Tax. Charged at 12.5% of the price, the tax is added at the point of sale to almost everything however refunds are available for tourists upon exiting the country.
Although the Cook Islands operates on the New Zealand dollar, there is still some Cook Islands currency still in circulation that is equal in value, except for the $3 note which is more of a collectors or novelty item. These can be picked up from the Rarotonga Philatelic Bureau or given as change when paying departure tax. There are actually two versions of the note, a green one featuring the legendary 'Ina and the Shark' and a pink one with general island scenes on both sides.
There are also some coins still available including the old Tangaroa $1 coin, a huge coin that is now a popular item for collection. This coin was replaced by a smaller $1 coin with wavy edges however it still bears the image of Tangaroa. The $2 coin is also an item of interest and is especially unique as it is triangular in shape.
For more practical information on visiting the Cook Islands, see our Cook Islands Visitor Information page.