Niue – Arrive As A Visitor, Leave As A Friend

Niue – Arrive As A Visitor, Leave As A Friend

30/11/2022 0 By Gayle Dickson

Niue gets under your skin… right into your heart and soul… and it’s a destination that will leave you wanting to return… again and again. I was fortunate enough to call Niue home for three and a half years. Niue was our home, and it was truly the best years of our lives and an immense privilege to raise our young family there. When we gave our kids the choice to go to Disneyland or Niue for a family holiday, they chose to return to their island home.

It’s not hard to get to know Niue – hire a car and drive around for a day or two and you’ve probably travelled on most of the roads and waved to much of the population. But it’s the hidden tracks and gems that will make you fall in love with the country, and the people.

I haven’t met anyone that has not fallen in love with Niue, and it was always a delight to welcome tourists back to Niue for second, third… or even annual holidays. These tourists now have an island filled with friends. Here are the ‘Best 10 Things To Do’ in Niue.


1 – Snorkelling With Dolphins:

Large pods of spinner dolphins are permanent residents in Niue and swimming with them is an emotional experience for many. While the dolphins are free to roam where they like, their habits are reasonably predictable so finding the large pods sometimes requires only a little patience; they can also often be seen giving acrobatic displays just outside the reef.

Niue Blue Island Experiences: Niue Blue offers snorkel trips twice a day from Monday to Saturday, once in the morning departing at 9am, and in the afternoon departing at 2pm. The duration is three hours, with all snorkelling gear, wetsuits and snorkel guide included. They also include the possibility with ‘in water’ interactions with Niue’s resident Spinner Dolphin population.


2 – Tracks and Walks:

Dotted around the island are well-signposted, well-maintained tracks with a range of scenic walks. All tracks hold a very special surprise at the end – whether it be rain forest, jagged coral pinnacles, steep descents or spectacular caves, you will come across scenes that could be featured in a movie set.

All fitness and adrenalin levels are catered for and guides can be arranged for bike, cave, bush and reef tours through the Niue Tourism Visitor Information Centre in Alofi, or you can safely explore most tracks yourself.

Scenic and Historical Sites: Niue’s coastline is adorned with unique geological landmarks, spectacular limestone formations and extensive cave systems. Many of Niue’s historical landmarks and sites are clearly signposted and make for a great trip of self-discovery on your visit. Local tour operators are also available for guided tours to places of interest.

Reef Walks: Niue is ringed with a raised reef that at low tide can be safely explored; the clean waters, lack of industry and low population ensure the coastline is exactly as nature created it, and it’s a fascinating trip.

Walking Tracks: There are 14 glorious walking tracks dotted around the island. Ranging from easy to moderate to hard, there is something for everyone to get out and explore on foot.

Guides can be arranged through the Niue Tourism Visitor Information Centre in Alofi.

3 – Dark Skies and Stargazing Tours:

Niue is the world’s first country to become a Dark Sky Place. The whole country has received formal accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary and International Dark Sky Community, covering the whole country with Dark Sky protection and recognition and deeming it a ‘dark sky nation’.

The stars and night sky have a huge significance to the Niuean way of life, from a cultural, environmental and health perspective. Niueans have a long history of star navigation and a life regulated by lunar cycles and star positions. The knowledge of the night skies, held by the elders in the community, has been passed down through the generations. Niuean elders now hope the passion to learn the cultural history of the stars is re-ignited in younger generations.

Visitors to Niue can view the spectacle of an unspoilt night sky in this temperate tropical climate. Guided Astro-tours are led by trained Niuean community members. On these tours you’ll witness the wonder of a night sky illuminated by thousands and thousands of stars. The Milky Way with the large and small Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda constellation are truly a sight to behold.

4 – Fishing and Spearfishing:

Fishing in Niue is legendary with fishing media describing Niue as a ‘fisherman’s secret paradise.’ Very, very deep water is accessed almost immediately from launching so you’ll spend most of your time fishing, not travelling. You can even stay on land and target fish off the rocks. For those that are really keen you can try fishing the traditional way from a vaka (canoe).

Black, blue and striped Marlin, Skipjack and Yellow-fin Tuna, Red Bass, Mahimahi, Sailfish, Wahoo, Pacific Barracuda and Giant Trevally, amongst many others, are commonly encountered.

Niue has seven professional fishing tour operators running established, safe and reliable charters. Whatever your preference or experience you can virtually be guaranteed a big fish, a big fight and an even bigger story to share at the end of the day! Local charter policy prevails that the day’s catch stays with the boat, however most skippers will say you are welcome to a piece of the catch, suitable for your dinner.

Fish Niue Charters: Local skipper, BJ Rex, has been fishing in Niue for many years. Manutahi is a 6.3m Stabicraft purpose built for Niue’s waters offering a range of options customised to your fishing needs. They carry quality Shimano game rods and reels, which are rigged to IGFA standards catering to both the novice anglers and those fishing enthusiasts. They also offer spearfishing charters.

Gone Fishing Niue Fishing Charters: Skipper Alan Wilson’s boat is a Stabicraft 1850 Fisher with all safety requirements of Niue Fisheries and is fitted with a 100hp Yamaha 4 stroke motor, as well as a 15hp Yamaha Aux. You can use the on-board fishing gear, which consists of Shimano rods and reels or you can bring your own. They take a maximum of 3 passengers on a 3/4 hour charter.

Kiu Tahi Charters: The Skipper is James Douglas, a local who has thousands of hours experience fishing the local waters. Kiu Tahi is 5.7m and powered by a 115hp Yamaha four stroke and backed up by a 15hp auxiliary Yamaha. The skipper trawls lines and has the option of jigging and bottom fishing if the fish are off the bite on the trawl.

Niue Fishing Charters: Owned by locals, Brendon and Tiana Pasisi, and usually skippered by Brendon, who has over 30+ years of fishing and diving experience on the island. Niue’s newest and largest Sport Fishing Charter boat is a well-appointed Stabicraft 2400 Supercab (7.3m) alloy pontoon boat with game chaser transom, custom built for Niue waters, powered by 200hp Yamaha. They carry top quality Shimano standup gear for trolling, jigging and casting with additional methods also deployed.

Niue Wahoo Fishing Charters: Step aboard a 2018 Custom built Stabicraft 2050 hardtop. This boat has been set up primarily for taking up to 4 anglers out at a time. Skippered by local fisherman, Clifford Marsh, who has been fishing for many years and has built up the experience, knowledge and respect of Niue’s waters. They carry quality Shimano rods and reels and cater for all types of fishing such as trolling, jigging, and casting. Charter options include a standard 5 hour charter or a relaxing afternoon charter for 2.5 hours.                

Sea Turtle Charters: Offer a 5.5m Surtees Workmate, a purpose built fishing/diving boat. Sea Turtle wants to give you an experience on Niue you will never forget, so they specialise in affordable fishing/boat charters for 1-2 persons. They recognise that a day on the water shouldn’t cost the earth and that each angler gets the full attention of the skipper.

Teresa’s Charters: Is a 6m Stabicraft boat with a 115hp Yamaha Outboard motor plus an 8hp auxiliary motor. Space on board allows for up to 3 passengers maximum plus the skipper and his deck hand. Fully equipped with safety equipment, all fishing gear is provided including game rods, light and heavy gear, lures and baits.

5 – Electric Biking:

Are you a cycling enthusiast? Even if you are just keen for a leisurely bike around, Niue has a load of options for you. With numerous mountain bike tracks riddled around the island and a handy Niue pocket guide to help you discover them, you will be sure to have a good time.

Freedom Bikes Niue: Hiring electric bikes is the best option to visit the many amazing attractions Niue has to offer. By reducing your carbon footprint and the reliance of fossil fuel you will be helping to protect the island’s uniquely fragile environment whilst having an amazing experience.

Adult-suited pedal-assisted electric bikes are specially designed for Niue’s landscape, whether venturing to one of the many incredible coastal sea tracks or cruising to the town centre for some of the Pacific’s best Island food. These bikes will handle the task with ease and give you an amazing relaxed experience at the same time.

Suitable for all fitness levels for persons over the age of 18 only. Daily hire is available for as many days as you require. Simply plug the battery in at the end if the day to recharge overnight, then let the adventures begin. Let the bike do the work for you or pedal along in pedal-assist mode. The larger battery in use can achieve up to 120kms using pedal-assist in economy mode. Feel the freedom with Freedom Bikes.
6 – Diving:

Diving in Niue is easy and rewarding with an interesting mix of caverns, caves, pristine coral walls and drop-offs to explore. Whether you are a frequent underwater visitor or just starting out, your dives in Niue will be unforgettable. Niue’s greatest feature is its incredibly crystal clear water unlike anywhere else in the world, with visibility that can reach up to 80 metres and rarely falls below 30 metres. Mix all this with a wide variety of friendly marine life and you have a dive destination that you will want to explore time and time again.

As Niue is made entirely of porous limestone, it has no lakes or streams. This means that rain quickly filters through the island into the sea, there is no sediment in the water and amazing visibility (a diver’s favourite word). This clarity is ranked amongst the very best in the world and with the warm water makes for an exceptional dive experience!

Divers can explore caverns, caves and chasms, which provide sanctuary to a huge variety of marine life. Niue’s pristine hard coral reefs are home to several endemic species and as you glide above them you’ll know you’re one of only a handful of people to dive these undisturbed sites.

Niue Blue Island Experiences: Niue has a mixture of easy to access caves, caverns and pristine hard coral reef dive sites, with rarely any currents they have something spectacular to offer divers of all qualifications. Niue Blue is the original dive operator in Niue and they strive to make your dives fun, stress free and above all safe. All dive sites are a short distance from the launch site with the longest boat ride being 30 minutes and most dive sites are only 5-10 minutes by boat.

7 – Snorkelling:

Imagine being able to offer people the choice of small private beaches, swimming caves, coves and chasms where the likelihood of someone disturbing you is almost zero. Niue has dozens of these on offer for you to discover – and while you won’t be interrupted by people, you will be examined by the array of curious marine life!

Some of these hidden chasms were formerly reserved exclusively for ancient Niuean Kings, so they come with a rich history. Many of the areas are well equipped with information boards, picnic areas and are well signposted, so you can discover them with ease.

If you are daring you can explore the outer reef by snorkel – however do ensure that you have checked the weather and the tides before heading out. Guided trips are available. There are only a couple of rules to remember; never swim nude and don’t wear skimpy clothing or swimsuits in public; a couple of swimming areas are closed for just a few weeks each year to let unique fish spawn in peace, but there will be signposts to guide you. Some recommended areas are Avatele, Limu Pools, Matapa Chasm and Utuko.
8 – Whale Watching:

During the annual Humpback whale migration you may well get the opportunity to experience something that very few people in the world can say they have done…swim with these majestic beasts.

From July to October each year Humpback whales arrive in Niue’s waters to nurse their young. Niue is one of only a handful of places in the world where you are allowed to swim with the whales. Mother nature of course doesn’t guarantee an experience so whale interactions are strictly dependent on the whales being around, within range, settled and the weather conditions being safe.

For those not so keen on the swim, these gentle giants can be viewed from the land at dedicated viewing areas, where their gymnastics provide a spectacular show, sometimes only 20 metres from shore. Niue is a signatory to the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and fully supports the conservation of whales so all interactions are conducted from a distance that respects their privacy and your safety. Niue has adapted international best practice guidelines with regards to whale interactions.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Niue when the whales are there it’s common for diners at the Matavai Resort to watch the whales performing from their table. At night, you can sometimes hear the whales slapping their giant fins against the water and you may even drop off to sleep with their calls. Unlike anywhere else in the world they can come that close because the water is so deep.

Organised viewing or swimming tours can be arranged; self-guided experiences are not allowed. Whale interactions are very dependent on mother nature so if you don’t get to see them close up don’t be disappointed you’ll still have a great time on the water with some spectacular coastal views. There are a few tour operators that offer whale watching trips.

Niue Blue Island Experiences: is the largest and most experienced water sports specialist on the island. Their highly qualified dive professionals and management are from New Zealand’s renowned Dive Tutukaka and have a safety and professional record that is internationally recognised.

Fish Niue Charters: Manutahi (seabird) is a 6.3m stabicraft purpose built for Niue’s waters offering a range of options customised to visitors needs. The vessel complies with Niue’s safety requirements and carries all appropriate safety equipment. Your local skipper, BJ Rex, is a certified PADI Divemaster and certified whale watching guide.
9 – Arts and Culture/Markets:

Niuean culture and craft are key components in ‘Taoga Niue’ and means everything to Niueans. If possible, try to co-ordinate your visit with one of the many annual village festivals, each a memorable experience of dance, food, sport, traditional arts and fun. Niuean women are renowned for their artistry and skill with weaving and you will find some exquisite bags and hats for a bargain price at the local show days or at the twice-weekly market.

The traditional Vaka or canoe is still used to source food from the ocean. Visit a local Vaka shed to experience traditional canoe making and carving and maybe even try it out yourself.

Tahiono Art Gallery: The Tahiono Gallery has been the face of contemporary art and jewellery produced in Niue since its establishment in 1995. The Tahiono Gallery exhibits the work of all those with an association with Niue, including the works of local resident Mark Cross. The gallery operates as a business run by Ahi Cross and its main products are the fine art and photographic prints produced by Cross Publishing in Niue. Head into the Commercial Centre and see Ahi at the Gallery Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm.
10 – Sustainability:

Niue has started a number of conservation projects as it aims to become more sustainable. With many environmental initiatives planned over the next few years, Niue will maintain its ongoing effort to promote sustainable practices.

New legislation will sustain 100% of Niue’s marine environment through a holistic approach to marine conservation, sustainable development and effective management in line with Niuean traditions and ocean use. Building important resilience to the growing impacts of climate change, pollution and extraction while raising the next generation of responsible ocean warriors.

The Niue Nukutuluea Multiple-Use Marine Park safeguards 100% of its Exclusive Economic Zone, building on legislation passed in 2020 to fully protect 40% as a no-take Large Scale Marine Protected Area (Niue Mona Mahu).

The decision reflects Niue’s ancestral tradition of taking only what is needed from the ocean to sustain life and ensure continued abundance for future generations. It also underpins the centrality of sustainable and responsible tourism that has been a significant part of Niue’s sustainable development agenda and economy over the last decade. And, ultimately, it helps to respond to the reality of unprecedented global pressure on our oceans from climate change, pollution and extractive industry.


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