Five ad­ven­tur­ous ways to ex­plore Niue

De­spite its size, this small South Pa­cific is­land of­fers abun­dant out­door pur­suits for the ac­tive trav­eller, writes Jody O’Cal­laghan.

The Press - Escape - - NIUE -

WALK­ING

The ideal trav­ellers in Niue are those keen to get out and ex­plore. A raised co­ral atoll, the ge­ol­ogy of the is­land means there are hun­dreds of caves, tracks, and chasms to nav­i­gate. Just be pre­pared with sturdy walk­ing and reef shoes, and watch out for even the small­est co­ral cuts be­com­ing in­fected in the trop­i­cal heat. There are many new and au­then­tic ways to see Niue on foot. A5 Tours take tourists through dense bush on fam­ily land in or­der to hunt uga, the land-based co­conut crab. You can watch lo­cal tour guides bait the crabs with split co­conuts hung from rocks and trees, then re­turn late at night to catch them mid-feast. Vanilla on the Rock of­fers tours through a plan­ta­tion cre­ated by a tena­cious Ni­uean grand­mother who is now ex­port­ing vanilla as far as Aus­tria. For a re­veal­ing in­sight into life on the is­land, take a vil­lage tour with a lo­cal. El­der Kuso Pav­ihi pro­vides a pas­sion­ate com­men­tary on his tour of Avatele, a vil­lage which has been through many changes in power, pop­u­la­tion, re­li­gion, and weather events. He will even tell you how the vil­lage has a con­nec­tion to for­mer All Black Frank Bunce.

MOUN­TAIN­BIK­ING

While bik­ing has not yet clicked with most Ni­ueans, there are at­tempts be­ing made to give tourists an­other way to get around the is­land. For­mer Welling­ton mayor Mark Blum­sky, who lives on the is­land, has a dozen moun­tain­bikes avail­able for hire. Bikes can also be hired from var­i­ous ac­com­mo­da­tion providers. Blum­sky will soon com­plete a rugged mini golf course within the nat­u­ral sur­rounds of rugged co­ral rocks on the edge of a cliff over­look­ing the sea.

DIV­ING AND SNORKELLING

There is no bet­ter way to ex­plore Niue than un­der wa­ter. The is­land is sur­rounded by a reef teem­ing with ma­rine life of all shapes and sizes, in­clud­ing trop­i­cal fish, colourful co­ral, friendly sea snakes and even the oc­ca­sional reef shark. Be­tween June and Oc­to­ber, hump­back whales of­ten visit the is­land to rest, mate and some­times calve. It is one of the only places in the world you can jump in and ex­pe­ri­ence the gen­tle gi­ants from the wa­ter, and trips are run by Buc­ca­neer Ad­ven­tures Niue Dive. The same com­pany runs Niue’s only div­ing trips to var­i­ous sites just a short boat ride from land. If you pre­fer to pad­dle within more shal­low con­fines, there are pools all around the is­land ac­cessed from sea tracks off the main road. A pop­u­lar one, Utuko, is just a two-minute stroll down from the Crazy Uga Cafe in Alofi.

FISH­ING

Niue is mak­ing its name as a des­ti­na­tion for keen fish­ers. A num­ber of lo­cals run char­ter boats for groups want­ing to try their luck at trolling, which in­volves tow­ing nu­mer­ous fish­ing lines baited with lures or small fish. Wa­hoo, mahi-mahi, and mar­lin have all been snapped up aboard char­ters. And you do not have to go far to find them, due to the reef of­fer­ing depth near the shore­line. There are also many fish ag­gre­gat­ing de­vices nearby, used to at­tract more fish and make them more ac­ces­si­ble to lo­cal fish­er­men. Ask around when you get to the is­land about which skip­pers are ex­perts on the best spots and tech­niques for snag­ging the big ones.

PAD­DLE BOARD­ING

This is a new ac­tiv­ity on the is­land, of­fered at the dive shop (just ask a lo­cal for di­rec­tions). Let the chan­nel at Avatele boat ramp suck you and your board out past the reef, while keep­ing an eye out for trop­i­cal fish un­der­foot and sea snakes com­ing up for a breather. While your core mus­cles will get a work out, this is a more re­laxed way to ex­plore the tran­quil sur­round­ings. For more in­for­ma­tion, see ni­ueis­land.com.

Nat­u­ral beauty: With a land­scape like this, it would be a crime to stay in­doors while hol­i­day­ing in Niue.

Ac­tion sta­tions: The raised co­ral atoll has hun­dreds of tracks, caves and chasms for vis­i­tors to ex­plore.

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