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 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.
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.
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.
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.