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Dogs on Rarotonga

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
2,006 posts
87 reviews
Dogs on Rarotonga

Hello everyone - I'm totally new to the Cook Islands forum but it seems I am going to be there in July for a week or two while my husband is on business. I've read previous posts on here about stray dogs so I am just wondering how bad this is now. I have had a bad dog experience recently so it's fair to say I'm scared of roaming stray dogs!

Is there anywhere I should avoid? I'm thinking I'd rather stay in a built up area like a resort rather than a remote cottage. I'd love to hear your opinion on this.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
17,935 posts
130 reviews
1. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Kia Orana Scottygirl, welcome to the forum.

I live on Rarotonga and I don't have a problem with roaming stray dogs.

There are one or two/more about that have uncaring owners, but in the main most dogs are friendly characters - including my own!

There have been incidents of a dog chasing after people on the road and beach. These situations once reported have been dealt with. The SPCA here does an excellent voluntary job. As does the Esther Honey vet clinic with reducing future breeding. We did have a dog ranger, but don't know where he is currently.

If you are fearful about experiencing another incident, I recommend you do stay in a resort-style property that retains security people and on-site groundsmen. There are a number of mid-sized and larger resorts that employ staff to protect guests interests 24/7.

For a July booking, there will be increased demand for accommodation this year based upon the annual Te Maeve Nui cultural competitions but which coincide with the 50th year of self-government in 2015. I suggest you finalise your ground arrangements for Rarotonga as soon as possible.

Aitutaki would be very nice for several days stay. No dogs there, and it's a very quiet island anyway.

Hope your visit goes well. Kia manuia.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
2,006 posts
87 reviews
2. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Thank you for your reply. Yes I'm aware of the event at the end of July so yes, we might be more limited in our choice. We are there for about two weeks so I'm even thinking about splitting the accommodation to two different places. Not sure. I think we will stay in a resort type place purely for the dog situation. Sadly I'm even wary of friendly dogs if they are running free - I'm fine once I know they are friendly of course.

I'll post another topic perhaps to deal with accommodation questions.

Hobart, Australia
Destination Expert
for Vanuatu
Level Contributor
3,714 posts
136 reviews
3. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

There are lots of dogs in Rarotonga and most are friendly however they are allowed to roam freely and often in packs and often on the beaches. If you are scared of roaming stray dogs I have to say it could be confronting for you - especially in areas like Muri where the dogs seem to openly roam.

I am a dog lover and have my own and "adopted" a few while staying in the Cook Islands. I did find it very confronting when wandering up the beach with one of my adopted dogs - as if they crossed into the territory of another dog it got very aggressive.

If you stay mostly in a resort you should be fine but if not carry a stick with you. Better to be armed than not!

Regards

Suzi

Edited: 17 June 2015, 03:33
Aitutaki, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Aitutaki
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2,108 posts
40 reviews
4. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Scottygirl, I would second the recommendation to spend several days on Aitutaki. Dogs are against the law there so no need to worry about being confronted by dogs, friendly or otherwise.

nz
Destination Expert
for Norfolk Island, Noosaville, Rarotonga
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6,495 posts
295 reviews
5. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Hi Scottygirl

You're going to get differing opinions on this subject from locals as well as visitors. Many locals I talk to agree there is an over-population of dogs which needs to be addressed. One doesn't hear of many people being bitten but I've often seen letters to the editor complaining about dogs harassing, and even killing, goats. Apart from strays, there are also many dogs (both registered and unregistered) whose owners make no attempt to control them properly.

I've visited Raro around 15 times, the first time being in 1978. However, most visits have been from the mid 1990s onwards. The dog problems have increased in more recent years.

Yes, you could certainly stay in a resort but if you venture on to the beach you are likely to meet dogs. I'm not frightened of dogs but it's really disconcerting to have a barking dog, with teeth exposed, rushing down the beach towards you. A bit frightening in fact. It's also a nuisance to want a quiet walk along the beach and have dogs running up to join you. I'm sure they just want attention but when they jump up at you it's attention I just don't want. And, of course, there are no owners in sight.

And if dogs stray into another dog's 'territory' then fights do start. As they are allowed to roam free they regard the beach as their territory. And, unfortunately, they leave their excrement on the beach.

There have been a couple of attempts over the years to reduce the problem. The second attempt started not so long ago after lots of publicity about packs of roaming dogs causing problems. The new ranger started with much publicity but, as has been said, little has been heard about him recently.

We enjoy walking along the inland roads but we now have several 'no go' areas as we don't enjoy having barking dogs rushing out of a property to block one's way.

Just a comment about accommodation. Although a resort may be best you MAY not encounter dog problems when staying in a private rental as they are outside their own territory if they come on to it. Where we stay nowadays dogs will often wander through but if we ignore them completely they go on their way. But they do sometimes leave a 'calling card' which is annoying to put it mildly.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
2,006 posts
87 reviews
6. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Ok now I'm seriously worried. Because we are coming over for business, it is unlikely we can go to Aitutaki - oh if only we could. Yes, it's fair to say I now have an unreasonable fear of dogs so what one person can cope with, I can't. I'd love to be free to wait for a bus, go for walks, wander the beach etc but with this knowledge about dogs I know I won't be able to.

I would feel Ok with other people around me so a resort seems my best option - especially if the bus stops outside. I've travelled all over the world and never encountered this problem before. I know it's just part of what makes Rarotonga what it is but I'm thinking I will now just go for a shorter time and only to a resort.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
2,006 posts
87 reviews
7. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

I should also add that I will be on my own during the day - my husband will be working in the town area. If he was with me then I'd be more likely to explore out and about.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
17,935 posts
130 reviews
8. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Hi again,

There were dogs roaming around Punanga Nui a while back, and they have since disappeared. In other instances it is the visitors themselves who befriend dogs, leading them to join into a beach walk or stroll away from their usual territory.

If you are still interested in a brief visit, I suggest you select a couple of well-regarded properties where there are staff employed around the clock to attend to guests needs. These places will be able to describe the measures they take to avoid dogs entering their sections, and along the adjacent beachfront areas. I also suggest you email Tourism Cook Islands, or contact their Auckland office to pose your questions/concerns about a pending visit.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
2,006 posts
87 reviews
9. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Thank you all for your answers - I don't want to be silly about this and miss out on a fabulous holiday! I have no idea what you do with a stick to fend off a dog but I'm sure someone there could tell me! I have owned dogs in the past and am not scared of going up to dogs with owners (where they are controlled).

I could also drop my husband at work then have the car for the day - that would solve the walking around issue... I am so looking forward to going to Rarotonga.

Canada/Australia
Level Contributor
1,261 posts
24 reviews
10. Re: Dogs on Rarotonga

Hi Scottygirl,

I have a huge fear of dogs, my sister was bitten by a dog when we were playing hopscotch back in the 60's. I won't bore everyone with my "fear of dogs" story, but I was ridiculous, thinking every dog I encountered would bite me.

Anyway I think I have been to Raro about 12 times in the past 17 years and I have to say the dogs have grown on me. I don't make eye contact with them and they usually don't give me the time of day and I would say 99% of them have been friendly and very mild mannered.

My husband always comes back with a stray or two from his morning walk and they like to sit on the beach with him during the day.

I don't venture too far along the beach by myself, but don't hesitate to go for a walk with someone else.

Hope this helps.

Donna

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