Niue is a great option if you are looking for something a little different in the South Pacific. One of our Flight Centre customers, Julie Urbahn, shares her amazing holiday experience with us.
Niue, "The Rock of Polynesia" is a little gem! While this is an affectionate moniker, Niue is indeed a rock; rugged, solid and jagged with coral cliffs rising straight from the depths of the Pacific Ocean.
My husband and I spent a week holidaying on this friendly little island. Niue flights are limited to twice a week from Auckland so this dictates the time spent on the island and caps the number of tourists at any one time. Because of this, chances are the folk you see on your flight will be the ones you frequently bump into on the island, whether in restaurants or out on the treks and snorkelling expeditions.
After seeing some photos of incredibly clear water for snorkelling we decided to book our Niue holiday. This was our first Pacific Island destination. Particularly appealing was the minimal tourist and resort development, it seemed a bit wild and untouched but still offering plenty of scope for activities and adventure. We didn't want a lie-on-the-beach-read-a-book holiday, it was more a desire to escape New Zealand's damp and cold for some fun activities in the sun!
We experienced the warm relaxed island vibe as soon as we landed, many locals were at the airport and we saw the weekly cargo of fresh produce and foodstuffs off loaded from our plane. First job for us was off to the car rentals to pick up the vehicle we would have for the week. It was essential to have a car to get around the island as there is no public transport and the snorkelling spots, walking tracks and activities are not within walking distance.
We stayed at Matavai Resort which is the only fully serviced resort on the Island. Perched on the edge of the cliff, the views are of the expansive coastline, waves crashing relentlessly on the coral reef and the chance to spot a distant migrating humpback whale whilst sipping a cocktail in the setting sun. Our unit block was nestled in amongst the lush bush with clear views out to the ocean and a short walk from the main complex which has a great restaurant (especially tasty breakfasts), bar and swimming pools.
Snorkelling was the top of our to-do list and Niue is a snorkelling paradise. You need to work with the low tides that expose the coral reef pools surrounding the island and most of the largest deepest dive pools are accessible for a few hours only. The water clarity in Niue is world re-known for its crystal clarity due to rainwater being filtering through the rock of the island and mixing with the sea water. The pools are a-buzz with a wide variety of tropical colourful fish and beautiful young coral formations. There are numerous dive spots to be found and our days were planned around snorkelling as many pools as possible. All are very well sign posted.
Niue is also home to the katuali, a small striped sea snake. Initially I wasn’t keen on the thought of sharing the water with these creatures, but I did manage to conquer my fear and ended up swimming with them. Who would have thought, watching them slithering to the surface for air and then back down again? They are quite curious and like to come and investigate you which can be quite unnerving. The local men will even pick them up and let them writhe around their hands. We chose not to snorkel in the spot called “Snake Gully” though!
Matapa Chasm with its deep blue swimming pool wedged between two towering rock cliffs was a favourite spot for swimming and snorkelling along with the wide open coral pools of Avatele Bay. Don't forget to pack your reef shoes as they are essential protection when clambering over the sharp coral both on the shoreline and on the bush tracks.
We were also pushed well out of our comfort zone as we tried scuba diving for the first time! Niue Dive had excellent instructors where the initial lesson was taken in the resort pool in the morning and then in the afternoon it was off to jump off the wharf straight into our first 9-meter deep dive experience. Big shout out to my instructor who handled the anxiety of my first dive so well, sorting out my breathing through the regulator and sinking to the ocean floor. It was certainly a magical experience down in the deep blue exploring the coral canyons that aren’t visible from the shoreline.
We really packed a lot into the week we were in Niue. The bush walks are numerous and spectacular and the highlight was the Toga Chasm hike on the rugged, exposed east side of the island, where the walk takes you through lush rainforest and a vast forest of fossilised coral spires.
There are also numerous caves to explore. We took an IRB out beyond the reef to swim with the dolphins, where we also spotted whales and snorkelled in the open ocean. On our fishing expedition we caught a Mahi Mahi and Wahoo that was later prepared for our dinner at the very excellent Japanese restaurant in the town.
With all the opportunities to fill your island holiday with great, challenging activities Niue is one of those places that I’d be quite happy to return to and do it all again!
By Flight Centre customer, Julie Urbahn