NiueNiue (Niuean: Niuē, NYOO-ay) is an island in Oceania located approximately halfway between Tonga and the Cook Islands.
- Alofi - the administrative centre and, therefore, possibly the smallest "capital city" on earth with 434 souls at the last census
- Avatele - formerly known as Oneonepata, Matavaihala, it's got a population of 150 and the largest and best coarse sand beach on Niue
- Hikutavake - the home of two of Niue's great attractions: the Matapa Chasm and Talava Arches
- Mutalau - where Christianity started on Niue
- Makefu - home to the Avaiki Cave
- Hakupu - gateway to the Huvalu Forest Conservation Area
- Namukulu - has a small motel
- Anapala Chasm
- Avaiki Cave
- Huvalu Forest Conservation Area
- Liku Sea Track and Cave
- Matapa Chasm
- Talava Arches
- Togo Chasm
These destinations are all covered in more detail in the "See" section below, and several of them are also pictured in this article.
Niue's remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the Cook Islands, have led to it being separately administered. It is self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974, with Niue fully responsible for domestic affairs, and New Zealand asked to retain responsibility for foreign affairs and defence.
The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to 1,611 at the last census in 2011) with substantial emigration to New Zealand and Australia.
The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. Government expenditures used to exceed revenues, with the shortfall made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that were used to pay wages to public employees. However in 2016, Niue paid off all of its national debt. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. The sale of postage stamps and coins to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue. Tourism has been identified as the main economic driver for Niue moving forward.
Niue's time zone is GMT-11 while New Zealand's is GMT+12 (GMT+13 during Daylight Saving Time). Therefore Niue is one day behind New Zealand when New Zealand has Daylight Saving Time, and 23 hours behind New Zealand at other times of the year.
ClimateTropical; modified by southeast trade winds. The average daytime temperature is 27°C from May to October and 30°C from November to April. December to March is the cyclone season
LandscapeFrom the sea, the approaches to Niue are flat with its cliff faces resembling a large ‘Swiss cheese’ composed of coral limestone rock peppered with caves. There are hidden caverns and chasms, buried grottoes and other subterranean natural fissures are yet to be discovered and developed into tourist attractions.
The island is approximately 73 km in circumference with two distinct terraces. The upper terrace, 60m high at its highest point, slopes steeply to a 0.5 m coastal terrace ending with high cliffs, some over 20m above sea level. A rugged fringing reef, which in places over 100 m wide, surrounds the island.
HistoryNiue was first settled by Polynesians from Samoa in around 900 AD. Further settlers from Tonga arrived in the sixteenth century.
The first european to spot Niue was Captain James Cook in 1774. He made three attempts to land but was refused permission to do so by the inhabitants.
Mutalau, in the northern end of Niue was where on 26 October 1846 some of the people decided to accept Pastor Peniamina to introduce and teach the gospel to its people before it spread to the four corners of Niue. The Uluvehi landing is the landing place of Christianity.
Time difference from New ZealandYou need to cross the International Date Line (west to east) while travelling from New Zealand to Niue, so Niue is 23 hours behind the mainland (winter) and 24 hours (the whole day) behind in summer. So be careful about the date when you communicate between Niue and New Zealand, because Auckland is one day ahead of Niue.
VisaNo visa required for tourists staying less than 30 days. Visitors will require sufficient funds, confirmed reservation for accommodation and return/onward plane ticket. Couchsurfing and camping are not allowed. Passports must be valid for at least 3 months from arrival date.
New Zealand citizens who are Nieuans or descended from Nieuans do not require a visa.
Niue International AirportThere is no public transport or taxis to meet the flight though almost all accommodation options include free transfers. If you don't have accommodation booked, just about anyone will give you a lift.
Air New Zealand has scheduled flights from Auckland twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays (arriving in Niue on Tuesday and Friday) and is the only airline that flies to Niue. Huge crowds gather at the airport to meet every flight. Everyone (including New Zealanders) must have a return ticket. There is a $34 departure tax upon leaving (included in price of Air New Zealand plane ticket). You might want to avoid flying in around religious holidays such as Easter or Christmas, or the October Constitution celebrations, as seats are often at a premium, since many Niueans return home at these times.
Alofi and all the other villages are small enough to walk around. There's no harm in walking around the villages and in town as it is perfectly safe and a good way to catch and interact with the Niuean culture.
Hire a motor vehicle or bicycle on arrival if you don't want to walk. There is no public transport system.
By carGetting around the island by car takes approximately 75 minutes. A Niue driver's licence is required and can be obtained from the Police department for $22.50 when you present your home licence (it's a cool souvenir). Since the police station is not open on weekends, you may have to wait until Monday to get your licence if you land on a Friday. Driving without a Niue licence in the meantime is allowed.
There is only one petrol station on Niue; , called Central Services, in Alofi South.
Hitchhiking is very easy on Niue; almost anyone will pick you up. Traffic on the eastern half of the island is very light and you could be in for a long wait, so take extra water. Riding in the back of utes is OK, but be careful because palm leaves can get your eye poked out if you're not careful.
By bikeHire a bicycle for NZ$15 at Alofi Rentals and $10 at Niue Rentals. Cycling around the island takes around three hours.
There is an accessible sea track at the far end of the village green overlooking Hikutavake Bay. The steps will take you down to the reef area and huge pools teeming with tropical fish, snorkeling is great for first timers during low tide however a guide is always recommended.
Matapa Chasmaddress: In the village of HikutavakeFabulous swimming and snorkelling area, encased by steep 10 m cliffs that overhang a deep long cool pool full of fish. It's next to the sea, but isolated from its currents by large boulders at the ocean side. The drumming noise from the ocean waves is quite a treat and can be deafening as you near its mouth. Taking a refreshing dip here is rewarding after visiting the Talava Arches
Talava ArchesA massive rock archway noted by Captain Cook in the late 1700s, and surrounded by a network of complex caves. Clearly marked pathway ends in some rock scrambling - take care on the sharp rocks and it can be slippery inside the cave also. Well worth the effort. Allow 30–45 min return and take plenty of water. It's a hot and steamy walk; visit the Matapa Chasm afterwards for a swim. Dolphins and whales can be seen off the coast.
Huvalu Forest Conservation AreaThis huge pristine tropical rainforest occupies 20% of Niue's land area! A major source of wildlife and traditional foods, and a major focus of conservation efforts, especially from the adjoining village of Hakupu. Teeming with diverse flora and fauna, though nothing deadly, harmful or poisonous. While the terrain is largely flat it is very uneven and reflects its volcanic origin. Please do not explore alone or you will get lost and there aren't enough people on Niue to come and look for you!
Liku Sea Track and Caveaddress: LikuOn Niue's East Coast, this sea track is about 500 m from Liku Village. Access is via large open cave and the view at dawn - as can be seen from the photo - is stunning. Gaze east and reflect that there are hardly two grains of sand between you and Chile! At low tide, the coastline around here is full of tiny little private 'beaches', little sandy coves varying from 5 to 15 metres long! Lie down and sunbathe, or explore the numerous reef pools. Do be careful to leave well before the tide returns over the outer sea wall, and do take water, sturdy footwear, and some food.
Anapala Chasmaddress: HakupuAdjacent to Hakupu Heritage Park, a deep sharp descent (there are steps and a chain rail) into the very cool depths reveals a fresh water spring. Traditionally very important, for it gave access to the fresh water source beneath our island's land-mass; remember, Niue has no rivers or lakes.
Togo ChasmHalfway between Hakupu and Liku (or about 4km north of Hakupu) is a 45 min track that leads through bush and jagged coral pinnacles into a secluded beach with coconut trees and a rock chasm. To reach the chasm and the beach, you need to take a tall ladder down.
Avaiki Caveaddress: MakefuLimestone cave with excellent swimming options (at low tide) after a short walk through. Beautiful swimming option at sunset - peaceful pool is within a large cave that is open to the reef on one side. Good reef walking at low tide here too. Swimming is prohibited on Sunday and during the koloama spawning season
Uluvehi Sea Park, Fupiu Fort, Fisiga Caves, Vaiopeope Caves, Oneone Reef, Tuo Mirrors, Patuoku, Tuo, Vaitafe
These are just some of the activities, as the rest you must uncover yourself as there is more to it, with self-discovery. Bringing your own reef shoes and snorkeling equipment is highly recommended since these can be hard to find on the island.
Kayaking, fishing, diving (Niue Dive offers PADI certified dives), golf, cycling, etc. Niue is different to all the other Pacific islands in the sense that there are no beaches. Go spelunking in one of the many caves around the island.
If you're wanting to play a bit of touch, what better way to do it, than versus the locals. About every village has a green and most evenings the residents come out and play a friendly game of touch. So if you feel like mingling and playing a bit of sports, just ask around and you'll surely find a game.
phone: +683 4311Go on dives in many of the underwater "cathedrals." Niue has some of the world's best diving. They run two-dive trips for $170 and a four-day open water course is roughly $650. Credit cards are accepted (when the system isn't down) but to be safe, bring enough cash for a dive. An opportunity not to be missed! Note that there is no decompression chamber on Niue, so you'll need to schedule dives so that you're not diving the day before your flight
Snorkelling is an alternative to diving. The Utuko Reef in Alofi and the reef pools at Hio Beach are excellent for beginners. Further north from Hio there's a pair of giant natural pools at Matapa that are best at low tide. Around the island there are places to snorkel outside the reef but should only be attempted by confident swimmers; in any case, seek local advice and check water conditions before venturing off on your own. To be completely safe, go with a partner or take a tour. Niue Dive operates snorkelling trips to sites around the island, including Snake Gully. You can also snorkel and swim with spinner dolphins (April to December) and humpback whales (June to October).
Fishing trips are run by Nu Tours (4hr trips $280) for one or two people. Fish with Fishaway Charters (4 hr trips $250) and you can personally barbecue your catch at the Washaway Cafe. Contact Willy Saniteli for info. Of course it's also possible to fish on your own, but remember that fishing is prohibited on Sundays.
Weaving is a popular traditional pastime on Niue. Most of the older ladies on the island go to a weaving group once a week. If you want to try it, try:
Peniamina's Ladies Weaving Groupaddress: MakefuThese very friendly ladies love to have visitors and will show you with extreme patience how to weave pandanus. You can take what you make home, or visit the shop next door to buy some traditional Niuean weaving straight from the lady who made it. If you do come here remember to bring some food for everyone to share as when the ladies have lunch they are intent on sharing it with you!
The Uluvehi landing is the landing place of Christianity on Niue and a very nice spot for relaxation. There is a recreation and eco-tourist building there with a bar and toilet/bathroom facilities. There is also a kitchen there with plans to open for service at certain days and hours to serve visitors to the area. The Mutalau Village Fiafia Night tour is held on Saturday afternoons, depending on bookings. There are also plans to build traditional style accommodation in the area, as the basic services (rest rooms, bar and cooking) are now available in the main recreation/eco-tourist building. You can drive down to Uluvehi from the village green.
Tour scenic sites, swim at Uluvehi, visit caves, bush walks, fishing, making umu, talk to people, sunbathing.
Fishing and other activities are prohibited on Sunday.
The currency used in Niue is the New Zealand dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "NZ$" (ISO code: NZD). It is divided into 100 cents. In this guide, the "$" symbol denotes New Zealand dollars unless otherwise indicated.
ShoppingFew souvenirs are available. Postcards are available at the post office and there are two souvenir shops in Alofi. There is also an art gallery at the Niue Commercial Centre. Niuean weaving is among the finest in the Pacific and make great souvenirs.
There are no ATMs, but now that an agency of New Zealand's Kiwibank has opened, many businesses now accept EFTPOS (with no foreign surcharge for New Zealand issued cards) and an increasing number now accept Visa and MasterCards (credit cards purchases attract a 3% surcharge).
Even though some places now accept "plastic" the system is often down. If you run out of money you will be stuck. Take the hint, do not show up in Niue without more money than you think you'll need!
CostsDue to the fact that just about everything has to be imported, Niue is a bit more expensive than New Zealand. Tobacco products are much cheaper due to the lack of taxes. Alcohol is more expensive, although not as much so if you buy it at the duty-free shop in the main commercial centre of Alofi.
Once you have bought your food and paid for your rental car and its fuel, there is not much else to spend your money on, though a couple of tours could be worthwhile and most are good value. Exploring the caves, chasms and sea tracks on your own is free. If you bring you own snorkelling gear with you, snorkelling in is free too.
Swanson Supermarketphone: +683 4306Niue's only real supermarket. Sells a limited range of fruits and vegetables, canned goods, hygiene items, mozzie spray, sunscreen, frozen goods, etc. Sells Rockbak Bakery bread fresh on Tuesdays and Fridays.
One suggestion for eating out on Niue is to plan - book ahead, that way the restaurant will know you are coming and will be sure to stay open for you.
All the main eating places are in Alofi and there is a variety of food from fish and chips, to Indian food, paninis, pizza, etc.
In the town centre is Tavana's Cafe, which offers fish and chips and others.
Crazy Uga Cafephone: +683 4653address: AlofiOpen early: choose from either the "Big Uga" or "Little Uga" breakfast. Also serves pita wraps, sandwiches, coffee, and fruit smoothies. Iced chocolate is to die for! Good views of the reef and sea. Open on Wednesday nights for dinner.
- Katuali Coffee House - Peta Hill, Alofi South. They sell sandwiches,pizza, sweet slices, etc.
Gill's Indian Restaurant & Takeawayphone: +683 4180address: Alofi SouthServes beef, lamb, or chicken curry with rice and roti. Vegetarian and fish options available. Open on Sundays (a rarity on Niue)
Jenna's De La Cuisinephone: +683 4316address: AlofiDespite the name, there isn't an owner called Jenna, nor is it French. Family-run, but the owners have day jobs and this is an additional one. It also has local cultural events in terms of dancing and occasional fire dance shows. There is a Tuesday night buffet and booking is essential.
Talo's Restaurant & Buffetphone: +683 4067 or +683 4077address: Paliati, Alofi SouthThursday nights special buffet dinner and entertainment; again, bookings essential.
phone: +683 4628address: AlofiThis restaurant serves amazing sushi, using fish caught by the owner's fishing company - access to the best fish on the island. The quality is right up there. If sushi is not your thing, they also do good pizza (2 toppings, add extra toppings for $2). Located in South Alofi. Take a look at the heavy wooden red door on your way in - it is the last surviving door from Mt Eden Prison in Auckland.
phone: +683 4697address: Main road, Alofi SouthPopular favourite, serving fish and chips, burgers, paninis etc. Friendly staff. Fully licensed Bar for a variety of cocktails.
Most visitors to Niue self-cater for most if not all the time. Most shops are closed Sunday and open limited hours on Saturday; therefore it is advisable to stock up on food on Friday.
Double M Butcheryphone: +683 4139address: AlofiSells fresh meats and cheeses. Excellent selection of spices, vanilla beans, and other food items
Makete (market)address: AlofiBest place to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Coconut porridge for $3 makes a fantastic breakfast. Locally caught uga (coconut crab) are also sold here. Niuean handicrafts like weaving and tie dye are also for sale. Located next to the Visitor's Centre.
Garden of Nur Bakeryaddress: next to RockETSells a good range of breads at low prices. Also has a small selection of pies and basic groceries. Two pool tables are available for use for a few dollars.
You can also import almost any food from New Zealand. The main exceptions are honey and salami.
For the really adventurous, try Noni juice at the Vaiau Farm. Anything that tastes that bad has to be really good for you!
Customs & Bond Storephone: +683 4122Visitors can purchase up to three bottles of duty-free wine and spirits within four days of arrival. Bring your boarding pass.
Washaway Cafeaddress: Avatele villageOpen on Sunday evenings with a serve-yourself bar and the best focaccia bread on Niue; run by Willy.
Clayton's Barphone: +683 4395address: Alofi South
Pacific Way Barphone: +683 4139address: Alofi South
Most places to stay are in or near Alofi, and there are one or two options going toward Avatele. Accommodation is non-existent on the eastern side of the island unless you have friends or are fortunate enough for a local to invite you in. Camping is permitted as long as you're not on private land but is strongly discouraged due to mosquitoes and, like in many Pacific islands, locals can take it like you're rejecting their hospitality.
Niue BackPackersphone: +683 4074address: AlofiFour bedrooms, one en suite, shared kitchen & dining lounge. BBQ on deck. 2 minutes' walk from swimming spots and 5 minutes from supermarket.
Kololi's Guesthousephone: +683 4258address: AlofiCentrally located. Communal kitchen and DVD room.
Peleni's Guesthouseaddress: Alofi
Coral Gardens Motelphone: +683 4235address: MakefuRun by the kooky New Zealander Stafford and his Niuean wife Salome. Five fales overlook the ocean, with occasional dolphin and whale sightings from the balcony (in season). A steep rocky track takes you to a private swimming cave at the base of the property. Sails Bar is also in the motel, serving drinks and a sausage sizzle/pub quiz on Wednesday night. Wi-Fi access is available at the bar and in fales 1-3.
phone: +683 4360
Lanutahi Holiday Apartmentsphone: +683 4317address: TamakautogaSelf contained holiday apartment, each with fully equipped kitchen. 2 minutes' walk from Matavai Resort for fully licensed bar and restaurant. 5 Minutes walk to Tamakautoga swimming pools and Avatele Beach
Matavai Resortphone: +683 4360Niue's only resort. Restaurant with fully-licensed bar, and two swimming pools. Great views of the reef. Turtles and dolphins have been seen from here. Free use of golf clubs and bicycles for guests.
phone: +683 4533Three spacious self contained cottages, each with fully equipped kitchen. All cottages have sea views. Complementary BBQ facilities. Chlorine free swimming pool. Whale watching lookout point. Very close to Matapa Chasm, Talava Arches, Limu Pools, Hio Beach, Palaha Cave and Avaiki Cave. Day spa facility offering massage, facials and body treatments. mountain bikes, laundry facility, free internet access to all Cottages.
phone: +683 4023Niue's only accommodation made from pure limestone. The villa features a double bedroom with private patio, fully equipped kitchen with stove, fridge, microwave. Lounge area with TV, DVD, CD & radio player. Dining area has its own private patio. Separate bathroom with shower, separate toilet, laundry facilities with washing machine & dryer. Wireless internet, private phone with international access. Villa comes with a private car. Private transfer from the airport on arrival. Ida and Albert are really lovely and helpful to their guests.
Teaching positions may be available at some of the primary schools, and if you are interested in investing, Niue encourages investment in new and existing businesses.
Wear a helmet whilst cycling because an accident would be catastrophic and the nearest major medical facilities are in New Zealand and Australia. Seatbelts in vehicles aren't obligatory but it's advisable to wear one anyway.
Emergency services and in-patient care for surgical conditions are provided at the sparklingly clean and newly re-built Niue Foou Hospital in Alofi, but travel insurance is strongly recommended.
For some of the caves, especially Vaikona, it is strongly advised to go with a guide unless you're experienced because people have been lost and injured in some of the island's caves.
The emergency phone number in Niue is 999.
Herbalists and traditional healers (taulaatua) are also patronised by locals.
Reef shoes are strongly recommended if snorkelling because coral cuts can easily become infected. If you cut yourself rinse the cut straight away with generous amounts of soap and water.
The tap water is drinkable.
Swimming gear is OK in swimming areas but not in villages. Don't swim nude or topless, and don't swim where locals are fishing during the spawning season.
Wave to everyone when they pass by.
Niueans are among the friendliest people in the world. If they're able to help you, they will. Refusing an offer of dinner or a cuppa can be considered offensive.
Niue is a very conservative island. Don't get drunk, as locals (especially police officers) don't look kindly on people getting drunk and then causing trouble. There have been reports of people being deported for these type of offences. Furthermore, same-sex couples should be mindful to the culture and older generations.
Skype audio or video calls don't work effectively due to the slow connection but Skype IM is OK. Your best bet is to contact any and all friends/family from New Zealand (or your home country) before leaving for Niue because it's NZ$0.99 a minute to call New Zealand. If you need to call from Niue the Telecom Office is open 24 hours.
There is now a limited mobile phone service on the island, which only works in some parts of the island. You can buy a SIM card from the Telecom Office for $34 (plus $5 credit), however there is limited sizes of SIM cards so make sure it fits into your mobile phone first. There are no roaming agreements with NZ mobile operators.