Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Niue Land Touring

June 2-10 (still catching up)

On Sunday in Niue (as in Tonga), everything in town is closed. It is forbidden to do much of anything in Niue on a Sunday--including fishing and diving. Though I'm sure we wouldn't be arrested or anything, as a courtesy to our host country, we try to abide by local customs.

So Ira suggested we do some of the Sea Tracks on the east side of the island (away from town and somewhat remote), and then finish off with lunch at the Washaway Cafe. This is a nice cafe overlooking a cove and beach on the SW corner of the island. It is only open on Sundays, and serves burgers and fish sandwiches. After lunch we stopped at an ice cream place for ice cream. And of course finished off with Happy Hour at Backpackers/Niue Yacht Club.

We did more touring every day--hitting all the 'best' Sea Tracks, as well as some of the lesser ones. Some were quite arduous hikes over spikey coral and bushwhacking through Pandanus forests, lasting several hours, and some were a 10 minute stop in the car at a car-accessible lookout point. We took a bazillion pictures, and when we get internet, I'll try to post some of the best ones. Most, however, had a well-marked parking area, and well-marked trails, and some very interesting topography.

Tuesday morning was 'town day'--where we took care of shopping, cash, car rental formalities, buying some Niuean stamps, signing up for internet access on board, etc etc. There is supposed to be an open market in Alofi (the main town on Niue) on Tuesdays and Fridays. We had been told that it opens early and finishes early. Some people start arriving around 5:30am and it's all done by 8am!! We just couldn't make it ashore that early, and sure enough when we got there about 8:30am, everyone was packing up their stuff, and there was one lady with crafts, and one lady with a sad little papaya. We vowed to get there earlier on Friday. But the 2 grocery stores were nice--we scored a $35 bag of nice lamb chops (about 8 meals worth), and bought some cheese and a few other things that were unavailable in Tonga.

At stops at each of the 2 gas stations on the island, we discovered that one of the hydroponic gardens on the island was selling their veggies there. We were elated to find fresh bok choy and some nice tomatoes--enough to get us to Tonga or Fiji.

We sampled almost all the restaurants on Niue--we went twice to the Indian restaurant, and twice to Crazy Uga's Cafe, and lunch and dinner at Falala Fa. All were pretty good, but pricey--a typical lunch was $12-15NZ plus drink. Beer is $4-6NZ and Wine by the glass is $6-7NZ.

One day we hiked the Vinivini offroad bike trail in the Huvalu Forest Conservation Area--walking about 7km and then we planned to walk back to the car another 7km on the road. Fortunately another tourist stopped and picked us up, as we were pretty tired and thirsty by then. In retrospect, only the eastern half of the trail was very interesting--the rest was semi-cleared 'bush gardens'. Next time we'd park our car at the eastern entrance, hike in to the corner, and hike back out.

The 4 of us and another couple from NZ that we met hiking were all keen to see the Vaikona Chasm, described as a 'Guided Only' hike. We tried hard to arrange a guide, but the only guy who normally did the guiding was otherwise occupied. So we hiked it by ourselves (6 of us). We did manage to find the chasm and go down the ropes into a deep dark cave, but we failed to reach the final cave, which you have to swim underwater to (inside a deep dark cave).

By the end of the week, we had checked out all 'Sea Tracks' on the map except 3. Avril from Dream Away was still trying to get interest to do the last 3, but we never did. On our final morning with the car, Dave and I opted to do a second day of diving with Niue Divers, while Graham and Avril went to a 'Village Day' at Hakupu Village.

We'll post some pics of our adventures when we get to Fiji.

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