Niue

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  • Niuean
  • English

Wiki Voyage Travel Information

Niue ( Niuean : Niuē, NYOO-ay) is an island in Oceania located approximately halfway between Tonga and the Cook Islands .

Villages

Map of Niue

  • Alofi - the administrative centre and, therefore, possibly the smallest "capital city" on earth with 434 souls at the last census
  • Avatele - formerly known as Oneonepata, Matavaihala, it's got a population of 150 and the largest and best coarse sand beach on Niue
  • Hikutavake - the home of two of Niue's great attractions: the Matapa Chasm and Talava Arches
  • Liku
  • Lakepa
  • Mutalau - where Christianity started on Niue
  • Makefu - home to the Avaiki Cave
  • Hakupu - gateway to the Huvalu Forest Conservation Area
  • Namukulu - has a small motel
  • Tamakautoga
  • Tuapa
  • Vaiea

Other destinations

Niue is full of natural wonders, including the following:

  • Anapala Chasm
  • Avaiki Cave
  • Huvalu Forest Conservation Area
  • Liku Sea Track and Cave
  • Matapa Chasm
  • Talava Arches
  • Togo Chasm

These destinations are all covered in more detail in the "See" section below, and several of them are also pictured in this article.

Understand

Niue's remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the Cook Islands , have led to it being separately administered. It is self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974, with Niue fully responsible for domestic affairs, and New Zealand asked to retain responsibility for foreign affairs and defence.

The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to 1,611 at the last census in 2011) with substantial emigration to New Zealand and Australia .

The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. The sale of postage stamps and coins to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue. Tourism has been identified as the main economic driver for Niue moving forward.

Alofi is the administrative centre or capital of Niue

Niue's time zone is GMT-11 while mainland New Zealand's is GMT+12 (GMT+13 in daylight saving time) so Niue is one day behind the mainland.

Climate

Tropical; modified by southeast trade winds. The average daytime temperature is 27°C from May to October and 30°C from November to April. December to March is the cyclone season

Landscape

From the sea, the approaches to Niue are flat with its cliff faces resembling a large 'Swiss cheese' composed of coral limestone rock peppered with caves. There are hidden caverns and chasms, buried grottoes and other subterranean natural fissures are yet to be discovered and developed into tourist attractions.

The island is approximately 73 km in circumference with two distinct terraces. The upper terrace, 60m high at its highest point, slopes steeply to a 0.5 m coastal terrace ending with high cliffs, some over 20m above sea level. A rugged fringing reef, which in places over 100 m wide, surrounds the island.

Steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau. Unlike most Pacific islands, there are no long, white sandy beaches, only tiny, secluded, white sand beaches that might be yours for the whole day.

History

Niue was first settled by Polynesians from Samoa in around 900 AD. Further settlers from Tonga arrived in the sixteenth century.

The first european to spot Niue was Captain James Cook in 1774. He made three attempts to land but was refused permission to do so by the inhabitants.

Mutalau, in the northern end of Niue was where on 26 October 1846 some of the people decided to accept Pastor Peniamina to introduce and teach the gospel to its people before it spread to the four corners of Niue. The Uluvehi landing is the landing place of Christianity.

Time difference from mainland New Zealand

You need to cross the Dateline (west to east) on travelling from mainland New Zealand to Niue, so Niue is as much as 23 hours behind the mainland (winter) and 24 hours (the whole day) behind in the summer time. So be careful about the date when you communicate between Niue and mainland New Zealand, because Auckland is one day ahead of Niue.

Get in

By plane

Air New Zealand has scheduled flights from Auckland twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays (arriving in Niue on Tuesday and Friday) and is the only airline that flies to Niue. Huge crowds gather at the airport to meet every flight. Everyone (including New Zealanders) must have a return ticket. There is a $34 (cash only) departure tax upon leaving (not included in price of plane ticket). You might want to avoid flying in around religious holidays such as Easter or Christmas, or the October Constitution celebrations, as seats are often at a premium, since many Niueans return home at these times.

Niue International Airport (), also known as Hanan International Airport, is about 2 km south-east of Alofi. There is no public transport or taxis to meet the flight though almost all accommodation options include free transfers. If you don't have accommodation booked, just about anyone will give you a lift.

By boat

There are no ferries from foreign ports. Outside of the cyclone season you can sail your own yacht to Niue. Niue Yacht Club has information on-line. Harbour fees are $15 per day. If you fly in during sailing season it's possible to hitch on a yacht out of Niue

Get around

Alofi and all the other villages are small enough to walk around. There's no harm in walking around the villages and in town as it is perfectly safe and a good way to catch and interact with the Niuean culture itself.

Hire a motor vehicle or bicycle on arrival if you don't want to walk. There is no public transport system.

By car

Getting around the island by car takes approximately 75 minutes. A Niue driver's license is required and can be obtained from the Police department for $22.50 when you present your home license (it's a cool souvenir). Since the police station is not open on weekends, you may need to wait until Monday to get your license if you land on a Friday. Driving without a Niue license in the meantime is allowed.

There are two petrol stations on Niue; both are in Alofi. One is in Alofi North and the other, called Central Services, in Alofi South.

Hitchhiking is very easy on Niue; almost anyone will pick you up. Traffic on the eastern half of the island is very light and you could be in for a long wait, so take extra water. Riding in the back of utes is OK, but be careful because palm leaves can get your eye poked out if you're not careful.

By bike

Hire a bicycle for NZ$15 at Alofi Rentals and $10 at Niue Rentals. Cycling around the island takes around three hours.

Talk

English (often with a distinctive New Zealand accent) is spoken by almost all residents. The local Niuean language is mainly spoken in the home but you'll win the hearts of many locals by learning a few Niuean words. Visit the Niuean phrasebook for the basics.

See

Niue is dotted with many caves and limestone arches. There are a lot of 'sea tracks' that lead from the road to the coast. Wandering down one and seeing what you find at the end is a lot of fun.

The two attractions in the village of Hikutavake, the Matapa Chasm and Talava Arches, start at the same trail head at the north end of the village. Both trails are signposted.

There is an accessible sea track at the far end of the village green overlooking Hikutavake Bay. The steps will take you down to the reef area and huge pools teeming with tropical fish, snorkeling is great for first timers during low tide however a guide is always recommended.

Talava Arches

Togo Chasm

Avaiki Cave

Uluvehi Sea Park, Fupiu Fort, Fisiga Caves, Vaiopeope Caves, Oneone Reef, Tuo Mirrors, Patuoku, Tuo, Vaitafe

Do

There are many activities in Niue. All you need to do is venture out. Have a keen and energetic attitude towards everything. Be positive and able to try anything and everything that comes to offer in Niue, so you are able to uncover the interesting facts and interest that Niue can offer.

These are just some of the activities, as the rest you must uncover yourself as there is more to it, with self-discovery. Bringing your own reef shoes and snorkeling equipment is highly recommended since these can be hard to find on the island.

Kayaking, fishing, diving (Niue Dive offers PADI certified dives), golf, cycling, etc. Niue is different to all the other Pacific islands in the sense that there are no beaches. Go spelunking in one of the many caves around the island.

If you're wanting to play a bit of touch, what better way to do it, than versus the locals. About every village has a green and most evenings the residents come out and play a friendly game of touch. So if you feel like mingling and playing a bit of sports, just ask around and you'll surely find a game.

Snorkelling is an alternative to diving. The Utuko Reef in Alofi and the reef pools at Hio Beach are excellent for beginners. Further north from Hio there's a pair of giant natural pools at Matapa that are best at low tide. Around the island there are places to snorkel outside the reef but should only be attempted by confident swimmers; in any case, seek local advice and check water conditions before venturing off on your own. To be completely safe, go with a partner or take a tour. Niue Dive operates snorkelling trips to sites around the island, including Snake Gully. You can also snorkel and swim with spinner dolphins (April to December) and humpback whales (June to October).

Fishing trips are run by Nu Tours (4hr trips $280) for one or two people. Fish with Fishaway Charters (4 hr trips $250) and you can personally barbecue your catch at the Washaway Cafe. Contact Willy Saniteli for info. Of course it's also possible to fish on your own, but remember that fishing is prohibited on Sundays.

Weaving is a popular traditional pastime on Niue. Most of the older ladies on the island go to a weaving group once a week. If you want to try it, try:

The Uluvehi landing is the landing place of Christianity on Niue and a very nice spot for relaxation. There is a recreation and eco-tourist building there with a bar and toilet/bathroom facilities. There is also a kitchen there with plans to open for service at certain days and hours to serve visitors to the area. The Mutalau Village Fiafia Night tour is held on Saturday afternoons, depending on bookings. There are also plans to build traditional style accommodation in the area, as the basic services (rest rooms, bar and cooking) are now available in the main recreation/eco-tourist building. You can drive down to Uluvehi from the village green.

Tour scenic sites, swim at Uluvehi, visit caves, bush walks, fishing, making umu, talk to people, sunbathing.

Fishing and other activities are prohibited on Sunday.

Buy

Money

The currency used in Niue is the New Zealand dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "NZ$" (ISO code: NZD). It is divided into 100 cents. In this guide, the "$" symbol denotes New Zealand dollars unless otherwise indicated.

Shopping

Few souvenirs are available. Postcards are available at the post office and there are two souvenir shops in Alofi. There is also an art gallery at the Niue Commercial Centre. Niuean weaving is among the finest in the Pacific and make great souvenirs.

There are no ATMs, but now that an agency of New Zealand's Kiwibank has opened, many businesses now accept EFTPOS (with no foreign surcharge for New Zealand issued cards) and an increasing number now accept Visa and MasterCards (credit cards purchases attract a 3% surcharge).

Even though some places now accept "plastic" the system is often down. If you run out of money you will be stuck. Take the hint, do not show up in Niue without more money than you think you'll need!

Costs

Due to the fact that just about everything has to be imported, Niue is a bit more expensive than New Zealand. Tobacco products are much cheaper due to the lack of taxes. Alcohol is more expensive, although not as much so if you buy it at the duty-free shop in the main commercial centre of Alofi.

Once you have bought your food and paid for your rental car and its fuel, there is not much else to spend your money on, though a couple of tours could be worthwhile and most are good value. Exploring the caves, chasms and sea tracks on your own is free. If you bring you own snorkelling gear with you, snorkelling in is free too.

Eat

Don't expect McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and KFC...unless you want to fly to New Zealand or Australia to get your fix. Bring a sense of culinary adventure. Local specialities include uga (coconut crab), anything with coconut, and the like. If you love tropical fruit you'll have fun in Niue; passion fruit, cassava, taro, vanilla, kumara, and various other fruits are available but it can be a bit hard finding where to buy them - try the Tuesday or Friday morning market in Alofi, or various roadside stalls. The supermarket has a limited selection.

One suggestion for eating out on Niue is to plan - book ahead, that way the restaurant will know you are coming and will be sure to stay open for you.

All the main eating places are in Alofi and there is a variety of food from fish and chips, to Indian food, paninis, pizza, etc.

In the town centre is Tavana's Cafe, which offers fish and chips and others.

  • Katuali Coffee House - Peta Hill, Alofi South. They sell sandwiches,pizza, sweet slices etc.

Most visitors to Niue self-cater for most if not all the time. Most shops are closed Sunday and open limited hours on Saturday; therefore it is advisable to stock up on food on Friday.

You can also import almost any food from New Zealand. The main exceptions are honey and salami.

Drink

Coconut water is very refreshing and naturally rehydrates you on a hot and humid day.

For the really adventurous, try Noni juice at the Vaiau Farm. Anything that tastes that bad has to be really good for you!

Sleep

You must book your accommodation before arrival or you may be sent back to New Zealand.

Most places to stay are in or near Alofi, and there are one or two options going toward Avatele. Accommodation is non-existent on the eastern side of the island unless you have friends or are fortunate enough for a local to invite you in. Camping is permitted as long as you're not on private land but is strongly discouraged due to mosquitoes and, like in many Pacific islands, locals can take it like you're rejecting their hospitality.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Learn

There is one small campus, a branch of the Fiji based University of the South Pacific and only one high school and one primary school. However, you can learn a lot about the history and culture of Niue just by speaking with older people who are in the know.

Work

Opportunities to work on Niue are extremely limited.

Teaching positions may be available at some of the primary schools, and if you are interested in investing, Niue encourages investment in new and existing businesses.

Stay safe

Niue is a very safe island. The only jail is located next to the only golf course and is considered an open prison. Crime is extremely minimal if not non-existent, and it's not uncommon for tourists to meet the Premier. If you want to meet your first head politico, this is the place!

Wear a helmet whilst cycling because an accident would be catastrophic and the nearest major medical facilities are in New Zealand and Australia. Seatbelts in vehicles aren't obligatory but it's advisable to wear one anyway.

Emergency services and in-patient care for surgical conditions are provided at the sparklingly clean and newly re-built Niue Foou Hospital in Alofi, but travel insurance is strongly recommended.

For some of the caves, especially Vaikona, it is strongly advised to go with a guide unless you're experienced because people have been lost and injured in some of the island's caves.

The emergency phone number in Niue is 999.

Stay healthy

There are no land snakes (sea snakes do ply waters off the coast) or poisonous insects. There is no malaria but there are mosquitos which peak between December through to March. In 2012 there were reported cases of Dengue fever, with one death, though these were the first cases in a number of years. Take proper precautions to avoid being bitten by the Aedes mosquito.

Herbalists and traditional healers (taulaatua) are also patronised by locals.

Reef shoes are strongly recommended if snorkelling because coral cuts can easily become infected. If you cut yourself rinse the cut straight away with generous amounts of soap and water.

Respect

Sunday is a special day reserved for Niue's strong church-going population. Fishing, kayaking and diving are prohibited by law on Sunday. Swimming is also prohibited on Sunday but, in practice, you can swim at many locations away from villages without any offence to the locals.

Swimming gear is OK in swimming areas but not in villages. Don't swim nude or topless, and don't swim where locals are fishing during the spawning season.

Wave to everyone when they pass by.

Niueans are among the friendliest people in the world. If they're able to help you, they will. Refusing an offer of dinner or a cuppa can be considered offensive.

Niue is a very conservative island. Don't get drunk, as locals (especially police officers) don't look kindly on people getting drunk and then causing trouble. There have been reports of people being deported for these type of offences. Furthermore, homosexual couples should be mindful to the culture and older generations.

Connect

Visitors pay a one off fee of NZ$25 to RockET who register their computer MAC address onto a single wireless base station of their choice. Connection speed seems poor and is a frustrating experience if previously used to broadband. If you don't have your own laptop there is an internet cafe next to the bakery at NZ$12 an hour. Some accommodation options offer internet access. The airport offers free wifi.

Skype audio or video calls don't work effectively due to the slow connection but Skype IM is OK. Your best bet is to contact any and all friends/family from New Zealand (or your home country) before leaving for Niue because it's NZ$0.99 a minute to call New Zealand. If you need to call from Niue the Telecom Office is open 24 hours.

There is now a limited mobile phone service on the island, which only works in some parts of the island. You can buy a SIM card from the Telecom Office for $34 (plus $5 credit), however there is limited sizes of SIM cards so make sure it fits into your mobile phone first. There are no roaming agreements with NZ mobile operators.

Cope

The New Zealand High Commission is in Alofi on the airport road.

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