The Ultimate Guide To Scooter Hire & Getting A Scooter License In Rarotonga
One of the best ways to explore Rarotonga is no doubt on a scooter. It gives you the freedom to get off the main route and explore the less-known gems. Though, per the law, you will need to have a valid scooter license in Rarotonga if you are wanting to hire one or drive one around.
Getting A Scooter License In Rarotonga
Why Do I Need A Scooter License In Rarotonga?
This use to be super easy to obtain back in the day, a quick payment, and suddenly it’s all yours. Though, this leads to many injuries on the road and even some deaths.
In early 2017 this was all changed and the law regarding tourists riding scooters was all shaken up. Instead of just paying a simple fee and going for a quick circle drive, tourists now need to pass multiple tests in order to legally ride a scooter in Rarotonga. Now, this may sound daunting, but trust me, from someone who has been there, done that, and has an embarrassingly horrible license photo to prove it, it is really not that bad.
Where To Stay In Rarotonga?
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Temporary Scooter License In Rarotonga
Many hiring agents in Rarotonga will offer a temporary scooter license for experienced riders. This will allow you to ride until noon the following day, ultimately this will give you enough time to get down to the Police Headquarters to sit your Tourist Scooter License tests. The cost of this is usually between $3.70 to $7.40 / $5.00NZD to $10.00NZD.
How Much Does It Cost For A Scooter License In Rarotonga?
As of the 19th June 2017, the total costs for obtaining your tourist scooter license in Rarotonga is $29.50 / $40.00NZD. The amount is broken down into $14.70 / $20.00NZD for the theory and practical test, as well as $14.70 / $20.00NZD for the issue of the scooter license.
The Theory Test
First of all, you will need to get yourself to the Rarotonga Police Station. This is where both the theory and practical tests are held.
Now I remember when I was fifteen years old sitting down at the license testing agent in my home country to get my ‘learner’ license. The theory test in Rarotonga is basically the same thing.
Now I am not going to lie, some of the questions did make me second guess myself. In my opinion, they were worded a bit awkwardly and I could imagine someone who did not have English as a first language might find some questions a bit awkward or confusing.
It is a mixture of multi-choice questions as well as writing down your own simple answers. Basically, you will need to know the road laws (who gives away, necessary stopping time, speed limits in town, etc). Though, in many of the rental agencies, there was a road code available for purchase at a reasonable price.
If you are from New Zealand and have some experience driving you will be fine. The road laws are extremely similar and they drive on the same side of the road.
The Practical Test
Now for some reason I never actually sat my practical test when getting my scooter license in Rarotonga. Don’t ask me how or why, because I have no idea whatsoever. The only thing I can think of is that I aced the theory test and I had also had a conversation previously with one of the officers about my experience and skill level (I have driven all around South East Asia and in heavy traffic in Vietnam). So it was either that or they just managed to forget me somehow.
Anyway, we did watch other people doing the practical test to see what it entailed. It did not look too complicated, though for those who have never ridden a scooter before this is not the place to learn. You will need to be confident in front of the testing officer. You will need to know what the buttons do, how to start, stop, indicate, etc. Basically the basic of any practical test. They will also test you on certain moves.
I must again say that seriously Rarotonga is not the place to learn how to ride a scooter. The roads here are full of potholes, the roads are not lit at night and there were constant roadworks while I was visiting. Often times a would have to do quick maneuvers to avoid large holes in the road and if I did not have previous experience behind the wheel I probably would have overturned/not turned in time.
Hiring A Scooter In Rarotonga
There are plenty of places to hire scooters in Rarotonga, though I will recommend one in particular to you as this is the company I have experience with.
Polynesian Hire is the company I hired my scooter through and they have locations all around the island. This makes returning the scooter super easy, no matter where you are staying! Also, they did a weekly special for their scooter hire which was somewhere between $66.20-$80.00 / $90.00NZD-$110.00NZD. I cannot remember the exact price, but it was the cheapest option for me.
Polynesian Hire also has a branch right outside the police station. This made getting my scooter license plus finding a scooter super convenient. The staff were extremely friendly and were always up for a laugh. Our check engine light also came on a couple of days before our hire was set to finish and they made sorting the issue hassle-free.
I got my bond back no questions asked, which is the complete opposite of the usual South East Asian experience.
Do I Need To Wear A Helmet?
Long answer short, yes you do need to wear a helmet while riding a scooter in Rarotonga.
Anyone riding a scooter on either an overseas motorcycle license or a tourist license needs to wear a helmet. This was introduced in October 2016 to assist with the problematic crash numbers involving a foreigner on a scooter. Ultimately, this law is here to protect you!
If you are riding as a passenger and the driver is on an overseas motorcycle license or a tourist license then you will also need to wear a helmet.
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