Rarotonga International Airport (RAR) is 2.4 km west of Avarua. Immigration will stamp a 31-day entry permit onto your passport. Be sure to write the name of a hotel in the relevant space on your arrivals card—to leave blank that space will prompt the Immigration clerk to ask where you plan to stay. Free luggage carts are supplied.
As you come out of customs you'll find representatives from most of the backpacker's hostels waiting to the left, at a counter marked "budget accommodations." State the name of the establishment you think best suits your needs and its representative will inform you whether it has any vacant rooms. Have a second name ready in case your first choice is fully occupied. Most of the budget places offer a free transfer to their lodging on the understanding that you'll stay at least three nights with them but the upscale places often charge a hefty fee for the transfer.
If you haven't prearranged transfers and nobody from your prearranged accommodation is at the airport to meet you, Raro Tours does transfers to any resort on the island, for a price.
All the main travel agencies and rental car companies have offices outside arrivals at the airport. There's a card telephone and free public toilets at the airport. If you're stuck here waiting for a flight the RSA Club is a more fun place to relax than the airport terminal.
The Westpac Bank at the airport charges a flat commission per transaction. The airport ATM comes and goes - don't count on it.
A dozen large luggage lockers face the parking lot around the side of the arrivals building below the control tower. You must pay to use these at the Rescue Fire Service Unit marked "security office" near the lockers. If all of the lockers happen to be occupied, the Fire Service staff will store your bag in their office for the same price.
Several duty-free shops open for international arrivals and departures, and arriving passengers are also allowed to duck into the duty-free liquor shop to the right before clearing customs. There's an internet cafe where you can spend leftover New Zealand coins.
A NZ$55 departure tax is charged for international flights (children aged 11 and under and transit passengers staying fewer than 24 hours are exempt). This tax is not included in your plane ticket and will be collected as you check in for your flight. If you pay by credit card it will be treated as a cash advance and an additional fee will be added.