Avoiding travel disaster – Yes, you need proof of onward tickets for the Cook Islands AND New Zealand

What a great weekend in Cali with our family enjoying nightly sunsets in Marina del Rey!

Our flight to Rarotonga had a layover in Los Angeles, so our family jumped on the opportunity to visit us. We were treated to a very non-budget savvy weekend touring around Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. We actually stayed in a great, budget friendly, ocean view <apartment in Marina del Rey .> (Thanks again family!)

After being dropped off at LAX with kisses and sad see you laters, we arrived at the Air New Zealand counter ready for Harry’s top destination pick for our RTW trip. Check-in was going as typical, until the representative asked us for proof of an onward flight. We were prepared and showed our flight schedule into Auckland. “No,”she said. “You need proof of an onward ticket out of New Zealand. Sorry. We can’t let you board your flight without proof of an onward ticket.”

Wait! What?

Although the Cook Islands are self-governing they are still under New Zealand administration, so our flight onward to Auckland wasn’t going to cut it. We did the research, but somehow this detail was missed.

My stomach dropped and I went into panic mode. We had no idea where we were going next! Harry looked at me and said, “Should we go to Sydney? How long should we even stay in New Zealand?” None of this was discussed, planned…nothing. We had to make all these decisions, right there, on the spot.

I answered, “Yes! Sure! Whatever. We need to make this flight!”

We told the airline representative that we’d like to go to Sydney and asked her “How much will it be?” She then looked at us like we were crazy. She stated, “I’m not a ticket agent. You can’t purchase tickets at the airport.”

So using the crappy, slow airport wifi, Harry frantically tried to book a flight to Australia. As he was trying desperately to complete the booking, trying to figure out why initially our credit card wasn’t being accepted, the representative looked at us and with a snotty tone said, “We are closing in 5 minutes.”

Then the phone at the counter rang. “We are waiting for two more passengers at the boarding gate.” Yeah, us!

Finally! Success! With only 4 minutes to spare (believe me I watched the clock), we quickly flashed our computer screen showing our flight details and that was it.

The snotty representative responded to the person on the other end, “Yes. They are on their way.”

Luckily we were escorted and rushed through security and made it just in time for our flight.


The morale of this travel story is if you are backpacking and traveling to new Zealand or it’s South Pacific territories, such as the Cook Islands, make sure you plan where your next destination is to have proof of your onward ticket! We thought we had all our bases covered. It was a close call. Especially since the next flight out to Rarotonga wasn’t until the following week.

Let’s just say that after that stomach churning ordeal, we made sure to order two mini-red wines to accompany our on-board dinner.

So relieved we didn't miss our flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki
So relieved we didn’t miss our flight from Rarotonga to Aitutaki

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