Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Niue – a small island country

Niue, known in Polynesia as “The Rock”, is situated about 2400 kms north east of New Zealand  with a decreasing population of about 1200 people and is a self-governing state associated with New Zealand. Niue is one of the worlds largest coral islands and consisting mainly of limestone, much of which is very jagged and rough.   

Arrival - We hailed the Customs and Immigration office on the VHF radio and made an appointment time for the following morning to check into the country, they would meet us at the dock and take us to their office which is a few miles from the wharf.

After a passage of a few days we are all normally exhausted so we were all looking forward to a good night’s sleep and exploring the island over the next few days.

There is no dinghy dock as such in Niue just a ship wharf which in times of low swell is OK to tie up to but if a swell comes in then it can quickly destroy the dinghy so the locals have implemented a rather ingenious way of dealing with visiting dinghies: they have installed an electric crane to lift your dinghy out of the water, it is then placed on a trolley which looks a bit like a pizza shovel which you use to take it to a dinghy parking area. All sounds easy enough but with a large swell it is quite entertaining to watch.

The check in formalities were quick and painless – no fees and no boat visit and the officials were very pleasant. They collected us from the wharf and drove us the 5-6 miles to their offices where we completed a number of forms and then they drove us back to the wharf.

We were very pleasantly surprised by the shops and restaurants of the island, having a pretty good selection of produce we had not seen for some time and even some Australia and Kiwi items and there was a curry house!! Sign of civilization again.

The cave where Jude broke her arm
We hired bicycles the following day to explore some of the caves and natural swimming pools that proliferate around the island. As the island is pretty flat, I think the high point is only 120 feet, cycling was easy even though the roads were a little rough it was great to do some exercise. The caves and pools are well marked by blue signs on the side of the road and there is usually a short walk to the area. We were blown away by the beauty of these places, so much colour and natural beauty but the great thing about these sites is that we had them all to ourselves – no jostling with other tourists! We bathed in the clear spring waters in caverns and walked along the edges of coral reefs to view the numerous caves on the predominantly limestone island. It was all great and then Jude slipped in a cave which was followed by a sharp crack, sounding like a splintering stick, and we all knew Jude had broken her arm. We walked back to the road, Jude feeling feint and nauseous, and flagged down the first passing car who were very kind in taking here to the hospital. Katya and I took the bikes back to the rental office, again kindly being picked up my a local who put the bikes in the back of her ute and then driving us to the hospital.

The hospital was very new but completely empty, not a single patient in the whole place, they must be a healthy bunch. The receptionist called the doctor in and then the radiologist who confirmed the break having seen the x-rays. Luckily the break was clean and no setting was required just a splint and bandage. At the end of the treatment we were presented with a bill for just $45!

Not to be held back from exploring we joined Neil and Jesse and Mark and Ursula (S/V Anahoa)  in a minivan that they had hired and traveled up the west coast again seeing more of the great reef pools, caverns and caves. The following day we hired a jalopy and continued the tour of the island covering the eastern, southern and northern parts of the islands seeing more caves and hiking through the lush rainforest.

Niue is known for having great diving and snorkeling with amazing visibility – easily in excess of 200 feet and no sharks!
The Arches

Hike to The Oasis

Steps down to the oasis with Neil, Jesse, Mark and Ursula

The oasis from above

Neil, Jesse, Marks, Ursula and I did a dive from the wharf and along one of the western reefs seeing more Moray eels and plenty of sea snakes or kraits which have a venom 20 times more deadly than any land snake, lucky enough they are docile and their mouths are too small to bite, or so they say.
Sea snake

Moray eel

Niue was a great surprise for us. We loved everything it had to offer and would recommend fellow cruisers, or anybody else for that matter to visit, a week would be enough but there is plenty to see and do.  


  1. Sounds like a great time, except for Jude's broken arm of course, and great pics with so many memories, especially of the large amount of sea snakes. Enjoy Tonga and hope Happy hour at Mango's is still in full swing. Rich & Geri

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