Niue, the Polynesian rock

We arrived in Niue thursday, july 6th early in the afternoon. From a distance at sea, it looks like a dark and foreboding place. Unlike other coral islands, Nieu rises up from the sea as a black massive rock, hence it’s nickname ‘Polynesian rock’.

the rock
Looking from ashore, Sanuk lies alone in the large bay, which is unprotected from westerly winds.

We took a mooring and radioed the Niue Yacht Club for customs and immigration. Stefan was picked up about an hour later at the dock and another hour later we were checked in.
We immediately went ashore although this involves some work. You cannot just leave your dinghy at the dock because of the waves pounding against the unprotected harbor wall. This could cause damage if you would leave it there for some time. So Niue has engineered a system where the dinghy is hoisted out of the water by a crane to which you can attach to your boat. The 8 days we were in Niue this worked great although on some days it took some acrobatics to get in and out of the boat because of the large waves.

We were immediately charmed by the island. We had dinner at an Indian restaurant, good food for a small price. The Indian had wanted to immigrate into New Zealand but ended up in Niue and liked it so much that they decided to stay.

The captain attaching Flipper’s single point harnass to the crane at Niue dock.
Flipper hoisted out of the water with the electric motor.
and safely deposited on the dinghy cart at the dock. You try to make sure that you did not forget anything on the boat because it takes a while “parking” the dinghy.

It took Captain Cook in 1774 three tries to get on land in Niue. He was not welcomed by the natives who all had painted faces and red teeth and he therefore called it “Savage island” which stuck for centuries until it reverted to Niue. He was able though to plant the flag and claim “Savage Island” for the Queen.
Niue (which means “behold the coconut”) is made up of limestone with cliffs rising up 30m from the sea. It is the largest raised coral island in the world. Niue was once ruled by kings but it became part of New Zealand in 1901. NZ is responsible for foreign affairs, defense and the necessary economic and administrative assistance. Just when we arrived the departure tax had gone up from 34NZD per person to 80NZD. This fee has to be paid by every person leaving Niue. Niueans are not happy with this increase imposed by NZ and fear that it will impact tourism. The future will tell.
Niue suffered a devastating blow in January 2004 by Cyclone Heta. Winds of up to 300km per hour damaged 90% of the buildings. The hospital was completely blown away… The population before Heta was about 2500 but declined to as low as 1100 and is now, 13 years later, 1900 souls. Niue tries hard to get its expatriates back, mostly from NZ and Australia.

Lots of abandoned houses after Cyclone Heta hit Niue hard in 2004.
well maintained roads

Niuean is the official language but most people also speak english, their second language. Besides fishing and agriculture, tourism is one of the main economic pillars of Niue. Niue is famous for its limestone caves and many chasms, crystal clear seawater (up to 50m visibility) and diving. We tried to do all ….

One of the first caves we visited was spectacular Avaiki Cave. This was the private bathing cave for the ancestor kings and site of the first canoe landing.
Looking down in the crystal clear water. The beautiful colours were really incredible.
People are not burried in a cemetary but along the road in a nice spot or in the gardens.
During the WE we walked around the island visiting the different chasms leading up to the sea.
We rented a car and visited most of the tourist attractions of Niue in 2  full days. A highlight was the walk in the Togo chasm ib the east side with its black coral pinnacles .
A canyon leads to a small beach area with golden sand and coconut trees.
The typical coastline in Niue with the limestone cliffs.
the ladder that leads into the canyon near Togo Chasm


Anapala Chasm, 155 steps to a fresh water pool which was used by the local people to get their water
Palaha cave: looking from within the cave to the ever restless sea.
The Limu pools were great for a swim and snorkeling.
An Arceye hawkfish in the clear waters of the Limu pools.
Corals in the Limu pools. It is so great to just hang in the water and look at these underwater aquariums.
Beautiful colours in the limestone cave near the Talava arches.
A rock in the limestone cave, such beautiful colors…
The Talava arches.
Having fun with our fellow cruisers, Nijad and Milike from “North” (Turkish boat) in the anchorage of Alofi.
A whale in the anchorage at about 30M from the boat. We are a little early in the season to see a lot of the humpback whales who migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica to Niue and Tonga to have their babies and mate. The top of the season is during August and September when you see a lot of baby whales.
We hope to see more whales in the Kingdom of Tonga, our next stop…

After one full week in Niue the winds changed and made the anchorage very rolly. Time to leave for Tonga. We dropped our mooring Friday July 14 after checking out and paying our departure tax. We really enjoyed the friendly people of Niue and its beautiful caves and chasms.