Top 10 things to do in Niue
Only lightly populated and geographically different from other Pacific nations, Niue offers unique experiences in a gorgeous tropical setting. Because the island is built from volcanic rock, limestone and coral, the snorkelling pools and surrounding ocean are silt-free and crystal clear. Several cross-island roads make exploring the island easy, and there are countless forest trails for hiking and mountain biking.
1. Venture forth to Togo Chasm
Stroll for 20 minutes through tropical forest in the Huvalu Conservation Area and the path opens out to reveal the deep blue ocean. Follow the walkway through a jagged coastal landscape that could be from another planet, then descend a sturdy ladder to a sandy-floored coral chasm that looks more like a film set than real life. The whole experience is quite surreal.
2. Sip clifftop coffee and play mini golf
Vaiolama Café in Alofi serves up simple food, smoothies, ocean views, coffee and cake. They also offer 18 holes of mini golf on some of the most eccentric, petal-strewn fairways you'll ever tee off on. The course winds along the cliff top and through shady tropical gardens. It's great fun for all ages and there's a small bar at the café, so you'll be able to shout your opponents a round if you land a hole in one.
3. Watch whales
Humpback whales visit from July to October, to give birth and nurse their young before returning to Antarctica. In Niue the ocean is deep close to shore, so the whales come right in where they're easy to admire and photograph from the coastal cliffs. A whale watching tour will get you even closer; if you're feeling adventurous, book a whale interaction tour that includes the opportunity to swim with these majestic ocean giants.
4. Hire a car and explore
Driving in Niue is easy. Outside the main town of Alofi, traffic is very light and speed limits are low, so you can toddle along enjoying all the sights. There's a 64km coastal road and several cross island routes that make it easy to plan day trips to different parts of the island. Forest reserves, villages, lookouts, coves and caves offer endless reasons to stop for walks, adventures and photography. You'll need a local licence from the police station - just show your NZ licence, get your photo taken and pay the small fee. It's a cool souvenir.
5. Catch a fish
The fishing in Niue is legendary, whether you're casting a line from a boat or from a canoe. With the deep ocean so close to shore, a guided fishing charter will soon have you in ideal waters for popular target species. In Niue these include marlin (blue, black and striped), tuna (yellowfin, skipjack and dog-tooth), mahi-mahi, wahoo, sailfish, red bass and giant trevally. You'll also capture some spectacular shots of the island from offshore.
6. Walk the walks
Around the coast road there are more than 30 well-signposted 'sea tracks' to explore. These cleverly constructed paths - including some with steps and ladders - lead to coves, caves, chasms and swimming spots. Most have handy interpretative panels that offer insights into the legends and history associated with each attraction. Inland, there's an extensive network of off-road trails through forests and plantations that are ideal for longer hikes and mountain biking. Pack your walking shoes, because exploring on foot is one of the most rewarding Niuean activities.
7. Go on a crab tour
The rainforests and plantations of Niue are home to large coconut crabs called uga (pronounced unga). Mainly active at night, these fascinating prehistoric creatures have vivid blue and orange shells. Several local operators offer guided rainforest tours that include the chance to see uga up close and learn about their habits and lifecycle. Meeting giant crabs is one of the most exciting Niuean activities for kids.
8. Bike the roads and tracks
Getting around Niue on two wheels is cheap and fun. The highest point on the island is only 68m above the sea and the vast majority of the coastal ring road is flat. There's also very little traffic and the open road speed limit is a leisurely 60 km/h. On a bike you get to experience more and it's easier to stop at every point that catches your eye. If you prefer a more challenging workout, there's a 170km network of bush tracks waiting to be explored.
9. Snorkel Matapa Chasm and Limu Pools
At the northern end of the island, near the track to Talava Arches, there's a perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling that was a favourite with Niuean royalty. Matapa Chasm has towering rock walls each side and boulders at the far end that reduce the ocean swell to a gentle surge. The water is deep, crystal clear and home to a good range of colourful fish. A little to the south, Limu Pools is a collection of coral rock pools protected from the ocean swells and well-populated with tropical fish. Snorkelling here is often rated as one of the best things to do in Niue.
10. Visit a beach
Although Niue's coastal cliffs and reefs meet the open ocean, there is still a handful of small sandy beaches to enjoy. Set in a beautiful cove down a long flight of steps, Hio Beach on the northwest coast is one of the prettiest. The sand is super-soft and the warm shallow water flows over a coral shelf with turquoise rock pools. Near Alofi, Utuko Beach is a convenient spot to relax, swim with small children and practise snorkelling.