A taste of Niue
Your most memorable meals on Niue will revolve around the freshest fish, creamy coconut milk, pawpaw (papaya) and Pasifika starchy vegetables, like taro, yams and cassava. The island grows as much as it can, including hydroponic salad ingredients, and the local vanilla products and honey are legendary.
Fisherman supply restaurants with bounty from the sea and the Niuean take on traditional Polynesian food cooked in an earth oven (umu) is a feature of special occasions. If you're a food buff, keep your eyes peeled for occasional foodie tours of Niue with the likes of Peter Gordon.
After visiting Niue, your luggage will probably bulge with vanilla and coconut products, as well as legendary Niuean honey.
Traditional Niuean food
In Niuean culture, food has a proud history of high preparation standards and deliciously unique flavours. If you're on the island while a village is holding its annual show day, you're in for a treat. A local earth oven, or umu, will be used to cook some of the village's signature traditional Niuean cuisine dishes for visitors to enjoy. You can expect to sample delicious local ingredients, such as talo (taro), cassava, breadfruit, shellfish, chicken, fish or even the local delicacy uga (coconut crab).
Self-catering in Niue
Many traditional Niue food ingredients, including seasonal tropical fruits, are available at the twice-weekly market in Alofi. Make sure you're up with the first rooster crow; this shopping opportunity is popular with locals and some items sell out fast.
While you're at the market, keep an eye out for a traditional treat, the Niuean porridge known locally as nane. This viscous, coconut-infused superfood will set you up for an energetic day exploring the island.
Niue's main food stores are all in Alofi and the largest is a supermarket that sells a comprehensive range of goods. Many products are imported from New Zealand, so in Niue food prices can be a little higher than at home. A Niuean hydroponic vegetable business supplies some stores, as well as the cafés and restaurants, with beautifully fresh salad ingredients.
Niue is renowned for organic vanilla, with production going from strength to strength. To find out more about this increasingly popular delicacy, take a vanilla farm tour with local entrepreneur Stanley. Watch workers hand-pollinate the delicate orchid flowers (the bees don't know how) and learn how Stanley supplies more than 20 countries with the sought-after beans, as well as producing vanilla essence and skincare products. This is a bona fide success story and a visit to the Organic Vanilla Store in Alofi is a holiday must-do.
Dining out in Niue
Apart from the Scenic Matavai Resort and Hio Café, most of Niue's cafes and restaurants are found in the main town of Alofi, with some menus offering traditional Niuean food to try.
There's a good selection of excellent cafes with astonishing views. Go to Hio at Hio Beach for fresh food and smiling service out of a converted shipping container; to Vaiolama for fresh sandwiches and mini golf; and Crazy Uga for simple, tasty food. And you have to sample the exquisite coconut pie at Falala Fa Café. If you're looking for places to eat in Niue on a Sunday, when everything is closed, head to Washaway at Avatele Beach - it's only open on Sundays.
The best Niue restaurants provide a veritable United Nations of delicious food. You can dine on authentic Indian cuisine at Gills Indian Restaurant, or book a table at Kai Ika Restaurant for New York style pizza and some of the finest sushi and sashimi found outside of Japan. For a more formal special occasion, try the Dolphin Restaurant at the Matavai Resort. There's also a good range of imported beer and wine on most menus, and you'll find that Niuean food and drink prices are similar to those in New Zealand.
Gathering food souvenirs
Food souvenirs are hard to beat, and after visiting Niue your luggage will probably bulge with vanilla and coconut products, as well as legendary Niuean honey. New Zealanders can even take Niue honey back home because it's certified organic and disease-free. Just pick up a Niue customs food declaration certificate on departure from the airport (a small fee may apply). As for Lupe Banana Chips - organic, hand-made and eminently edible - one bag is never quite enough.