Tuesday, 17 September 2013

niue: the little rock that could

Niue: the mooring field from shore

Togo Sea Track: Pretty cool if you ask us
Niue is all that, and more. This 269 km2 raised coral atoll (affectionately called “the Rock”), whose coastline is riddled with limestone caves, is likely the friendliest island we have ever been to. This place is just plain cool. While some literature would have you believe there are 1600 inhabitants here, one Niuean scoffed at the figure. “Yeah, it’s more like 1200, they counted the yachties and tourists to pad the numbers, sorry but you don’t count!” This tiny country’s population has depleted because of the many Niueans that have left for New Zealand. (A Niuean automatically qualifies for a Kiwi passport.) The evidence is in the many abandoned homes along the roads of Niue. We hitchhiked all over the western/northwestern side of the island, and got to ask a lot of questions of the locals. One man told us about the government structure. They have a “parliament”, and each of the 13 villages has a 5 member council. According to this man, one of the villages we passed by, had only five inhabitants. I wonder if they were all in that village’s council. Another village had a sign that claimed to be smoke free. I’m not sure how many people lived there, but cigarettes were not cool in that village.

Exploring with SV Landfall's Barb (above) and
Hanging out with some new faces too
Photo courtesy of SV Landfall

Climbing out of the Togo Chasm
(One of our favourite Sea Tracks)
Photo courtesy of SV Landfall
Many tourists and yachties choose to rent a car to explore the island, which is great. We love hitchhiking. We hear stories straight out of the locals’ mouths. We laugh at our differences, and sometimes we share our story. And then we wave goodbye. Hitchhiking creates an opportunity for us to connect with perfect strangers, even if it is for a fleeting moment. There is something precious about that.

Happy to reunite with a lovely friend

Checking out the Limu Pools (Great snorkelling!)

The second Limu pool where we saw our first sea snakes
As long as you don't bug 'em, they won't bug you
(or bite you: which is good, 'cause they're venomous)
A couple varieties of butterflyfish

If you like caves, chasms, sandy coves, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, lush greenery and friendly folks, this is the place for you. Sure groceries are expensive here, and the anchorage is less than ideal. (You have to grab a mooring ball, it’s too deep to anchor.) It is completely exposed to the west, but as long as the southeasterly winds prevail, it’s fine.

Blissed out in Niue

Matapa Chasm (A refreshing swim! We have to
dive down below the freshwater to warm up)

Talava Arches

A cave near the Talava Arches and a Rick
Practicing my grumpy face... just in case I forgot it.
Really. All the smiling faces on this island are contagious.

Hio Sea Track: A little private beach

Cool caves are everywhere on this island

Our favourite swimming hole
I’m not the only one to gush about this place: for a great (and detailed) report on Niue, read SV Bella Star’s post.

Position: 19* 03.238’S   169* 55.391’W

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