Niue is definitely one of my favourite islands in the South Pacific. The ‘Rock of Polynesia’ is so sparsely populated (with a population of less than 1500!) and with terrain that is so uniquely different to the other islands, it makes for a beautiful tropical getaway that truly feels far removed from tourism and certainly with a pace of life that is even further removed from the usual everyday. And don’t be fooled by the population figures – there is PLENTY to see and do in Niue!
Niue has the food, culture, beauty and with an unrivalled freedom to explore without fear of missing out on anything.
Logistically, you can either visit Niue for 3-4 days, or for seven (unless you are lucky and can stay even longer!) simply because the one airport on the island has scheduled flights with Air New Zealand to Auckland on Tuesdays and Fridays. And don’t forget that Niue is actually one day behind New Zealand… so those same flights arrive back on different days when you account for the change in time zone!
Food aside (I’ll get to that, don’t worry!), in Niue you don’t want to miss:
- Matapa Chasm
- Visit Talava Arches
- Adventure to Togo Chasm
- Swim at Limu Pools
- Buy Niuean FOOD at the Alofi Market
The chasm is a must-see. Not only is it now an easily accessible and striking place to swim in tropical waters, but Matapa Chasm has a renowned history as a place that was once reserved as a bathing place for Niue’s traditional kings. And you will see why!
Its easy to access and signposted from the road. From the carpark it is only a 5-10 minute walk down to the chasm; and don’t forget to bring some kind of reef or swimming shoes to enter the water in, as although it is virtually swimmable at any tide, you are swimming on the ‘Rock of Polynesia’ and it is rocky!
The walk to Talava Arches makes for an adventure! It takes about 20 minutes to reach the cave at the end, where you will need to use the handholds and ropes to make your way through and out to view the striking arches formed out of the natural coral and rocky cliffs wrapping around the coast.
As for getting down into the water? There’s a rope to hold on to and climb down (told you it was an adventure!) to a clear swimming hole if you are keen… Otherwise, you if you’ve timed your visit for low tide you can wade or walk across the reef to view the sea arches which make well worth the walk. [We stopped for a coconut and cold drink at the Clifftop Fale near Hio Beach on our way back which made it doubly worth it!].
An adventure for all; young and old… The trek out to Togo Chasm was one of our favourite island adventures in Niue! The pathway to the inland chasm starts through jungle before emerging in a single file trodden pathway over the high reef-clifftops that stretch the long way out towards the Pacific Ocean. We didn’t quite know what to expect from an ‘inland beach chasm’ but it turned out to be a bit like a tropical oasis, protected from the extremes of the ocean only twenty metres away.
As the trail up top heads towards the ocean it veers off and steers you back through rocky cliff walls until you reach the drop off to what is in fact, an inland beach and only accessible by a huge wooden ladder!
You definitely feel pretty small down inside, and it makes you wonder at Mother Nature… an island without really any coastal sandy beaches… but instead, a beautiful inland tropical beach!
Limu Pools is a beautiful collection of coral rock pools protected from the ocean swells; kind of like a giant natural swimming pool. Swimming or snorkelling here is often rated as one of the best things to do in Niue and I would have to agree!
Alofi Morning Market
If you have been to any market in the Pacific you will know the early start is most definitely worth it. The market in Alofi runs from 6am on Tuesdays and Fridays – timed perfectly with the only days that schedule an international flight back to Auckland so you can enjoy and savour one last island breakfast before you fly.
There is all kinds of locally grown fruits and vegetables, coconuts, seafood, handicrafts made on the island and an array of tasty hot foods that have been steamed or cooked in an ’emu’ or ground oven. Definitely get there early so you don’t miss out on THE BEST ‘Nane Pia’ (coconut porridge) and some steamed pitako coconut bread!
The road that loops around the entire island of Niue is only 64km in total length, so it won’t be surprising that there isn’t really the option of public transport on the island! It’s easy to hire a car from one of the few rental companies on the island and an easy option to pick it up and meet a representative at the airport. The speed limit in the villages in only 40km/h and 60km/h for the open roads, and otherwise following the same road rules as New Zealand. In order to drive you will need to get a Niuean drivers licence from the Niue Police Department in Alofi for a small fee [this was actually not open during the days that we were there – more disappointing perhaps as it would have been a cool souvenir to take home!].
Arriving at the Niue International Hanan Airport is an experience in itself, with a small airport building and a relaxed island vibe as soon as you arrive. From the air even the runway stands out – its a white colour and visible as soon as you spot the island; its made out of the islands own coral-based concrete mix – rather fitting, for the Rock of Polynesia!
Arrived prepared with cash when you land. The island trades everything with New Zealand dollars but there aren’t actually ATM’s on the island. It is possible to withdraw money from the bank and several businesses do use EFTPOS, but for ease of travel bring sufficient cash with you – and don’t forget to keep the $34 NZD departure tax on leaving the island.