It appears there may be a new tropical holiday hot spot for Australians.
Rarotonga, the hub of the Cook Islands, sits about half way between New Zealand and Hawaii.
The island promises no traffic lights and no building taller than the highest coconut tree.
In December, Australian budget airline Jetstar announced it would be launching two direct flights a week between Sydney and Rarotonga from June 29 this year.
But news.com.au can reveal high demand for the flights – even before the first one has taken off – has prompted the airline to add a third service in peak travel periods.
Australians can currently only fly to Rarotonga via Auckland, New Zealand, making these the only direct flights.
There will be a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday return flight from July to October and from December to January.
It means the estimated 50,000 passengers Jetstar expected to carry between the two destinations each year will be pushed up to 60,000.
“Bookings are strong ahead of our inaugural flight from Sydney to Rarotonga on the 29th of June, as families prepare to escape to this tropical paradise during Australia’s cooler months,” Jetstar chief customer officer Alan McIntyre said.
He added passengers would be flown on the newest aircraft in the airline’s fleet, which is the A321neo LR.
The aircraft has wider seats than other Jetstar planes and in-seat USB spots for charging.
Jetstar said the new aircraft was also 50 per cent quieter and up to 20 per cent more fuel efficient.
The flight from Sydney to Rarotonga is 5 hours and 30 minutes (four hours shorter than the flight to Honolulu), while the return flight is 7 hours and 30 minutes.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said more tourists coming from Australia helped the island nation’s economic recovery.
“My government is committed to doing what we can to help fast-track our economy back to pre-Covid levels and it’s great to see Jetstar assisting in this space by allowing more Aussies and Cook Islanders living in Aussie the ability to come visit with their direct flight from Sydney,” he said.
Graeme West, Australasia general manager of Cook Islands Tourism, said they were “very happy” with the sales so far.
“We look forward to welcoming Australian visitors very soon,” he said.
Jetstar’s direct one-way fares between Sydney and Rarotonga start from $369.