Niue a wedding adventure to the Rock of Polynesia
Niue is also a place where visitors can get as close as 50 metres to humpback whales - without getting wet. It’s easy to spend all day watching them from anywhere along Niue’s western coast, but guests at the Matavai Resort get a grandstand view.
Niue, known as the “Rock of Polynesia,” is a place for those who want to escape to an island of dramatic landscape and raw beauty - and as a wedding destination Niue is about to step onto the map.
With Niue’s legendary hospitality, the wedding party will be embraced into its tiny population. The first nation in the world to provide free wi-fi internet access across the country - so there’s no need to feel cut off from civilisation on this island.
There’s plenty to do if the bride and groom and their guests want to fill their wedding holiday with action. Or there’s plenty to “not do” if they are looking to relax peacefully while spending time together.
Niue’s appeal lies not only with its Pacific island beauty, but also in what it does not have. There are no typical sandy beaches on the island, but there are many tiny, intimate coves where visitors can swim and sunbathe in total privacy. Crowds are unknown. Only around 1500 people now live on Niue (with around 30,000 in New Zealand and 4,000 in Australia) so visitors are not going to be caught in a traffic jam. Transport is by hire car, bicycle, motorbike by or sticking out the thumb.
Fresh food in Niue is plentiful. The market is the focal point for local produce sales. The Tuesday and Friday market starts at around 5-9am selling local grown produce, handcrafts, local food delicacies, leis (flower garlands) and the bright blue coconut crabs known as uga, both now rare on other Pacific Islands. Niue has a number of cafes and also several licensed restaurants where, if there is an “island buffet night,” traditional dishes feature on the menu such as coconut crab, ota, or marinated fish in coconut cream, taro and yams cooked in an umu, or earth oven - as well as other local seafood delicacies found in Niue.
Niue is blessed every year between June and September with visits from migrating humpback whales. Taking a break on their long journey, they come to Niue to rest, play, mate and give birth. Humpback whales migrate 5000km from their feeding grounds to calve and mate in tropical waters during winter months.
During the months of the humpback migration it is common to see the whales from the shore as they frolic in the crystal clear, warm waters of Niue. The whales show all forms of their behaviour, from breaching, fluke up dives, head lunges, pectoral slaps and tail lobbing to swimming along sedately. Females also give birth in the calm bays of Niue and a typical calf can weigh up to one tonne and be three to four metres long.
Niue Dive and licenced operators offer whale interactions and dolphin trips, one of the few places in the world where this is allowed. Following strict guidelines from experienced guides/ operators, snorkellers form a line in the water to watch the whales, ensuring they never split into smaller groups, or come between the mother and calf. If the whales are not in the mood they will move sedately away.
Niue is also a place where visitors can get as close as 50 metres to humpback whales - without getting wet. It’s easy to spend all day watching them from anywhere along Niue’s western coast, but guests at the Matavai Resort get a grandstand view. Nestled into bush on a cliff edge, Matavai‘s tiered decks overlook the whales’ preferred bay. The location provides the most mesmerising whale watching platform imaginable and with newly installed viewing binoculars from certain look out points, viewing is even better.
The national waters of Niue have also been declared a whale sanctuary and the non-government organisation, “Oma Tafua” meaning “to treasure whales” is dedicated to the protection, conservation and education of marine mammals and works together with Whales Alive & Niue Fisheries Division.
Exploring Niue‘s coast under water is a treat, with its visibility of up to 65 metres being among the best in the world, another gift of the island‘s unique geology. A wide variety of marine life, including turtles, dolphins, Niue’s famous sea snakes, hard corals and caverns provide memorable diving.
For sea anglers, there are well-equipped fishing charters. The beauty of the fishing is that with such deep water so close to land, no travelling time is wasted, and a great array of marine visitors, including sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, wahoo, barracuda. Giant trevally are the targeted species and caught just offshore.
A visit to Togo Chasm, near Niue’s south-eastern coast, has special appeal. A 30-minute drive from Aolfi, Togo’s pinnacled and latticed limestone walls totally enclose a beautiful patch of white sand. The path to the chasm requires care but it is clear and stepped and the sand is accessed down a 25-metre ladder.
Although Niue lacks the spectacular peaks of a high volcanic island, because it is an average of 30 metres above the sea, there are panoramic views of the Pacific almost all the way along the encircling road. The road is a good one, well surfaced and gently undulating as it passes through the lush vegetation following the island’s perimeter, which was once the rim of the former atoll. The road passes through Niue’s 14 villages, each with its distinctive green, churches and plantation land. Alofi, the main village, has one bank, no traffic lights and few streetlights.
Above ground, more than 20 percent of Niue is dense, primary rainforest, most lying within the Huvalu Conservation Area in the south-eastern area of the island. The centre of the island is covered in bush, but even here the old coral protrudes like harrows through the vegetation of farmed plots of land. All around the island, where the rim dips or plunges to the sea, Niue’s landforms are a wonder. The rainfall that soaks into the land permeates the coral rock, forming a lens-like layer of fresh water metres underground. Around the edges of the island, at sea level, the water leaks out, sometimes forcefully, eroding the landscape and sculpting the rock into a karst landscape.
The original inhabitants of Niue came from Tonga to the west, Samoa to the east and a smaller migration from the Northern Cook Islands. When Captain James Cook first sighted Niue in 1774 he tried to land. Niuean warriors vigorously repulsed him and his men, so Cook named it Savage Island. Niueans are actually some of the friendliest people in the Pacific, and are utterly approachable - visiting is like being welcomed into a large family. Their greeting, “fakaalofa lahi atu” is heard often. Today Niue is free-governing, in association with New Zealand, so its people have New Zealand citizenship with free right of entry.
The climate is tropical, modified by south-easterly trade winds. There is a long dry season from April to November when the temperature peaks at around 28 degrees Celsius. From December to March the climate is hot and humid, with maximum temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius.
Almost everyone speaks Niuean and English and the currency is the New Zealand dollar. When you visit Niue you arrive as a visitor and leave as a friend.