The Island of Niue
Niue, also known as "The Rock", lies approximately 384 nm SW of Palmerston, a sail we made in about three days. It was first sighted by Captain Cook in 1774. Niue is reportedly the world's largest upraised coral atoll, and lies just east of the International Date Line. It is an independent nation with free association with New Zealand.
Niue's rugged coastline
Niue has no surrounding lagoon and only a small skirt of limestone reef protecting the island. Because of this, the rugged coastline provides many caves, chasms and swimming coves for exploring. Because rain water filters through the coral and passes into the sea completely devoid of any sediment, the surrounding ocean is crystal clear with visibility possible to 200 feet!
The Niue Yacht Club provides moorings for visiting yachts as there is no protected harbor for anchoring and any possible anchoring areas have deep coral fissures that can make retrieving an anchor very difficult, at best. The day we arrived, we were lucky enough to get one of the last moorings available in Alofi Bay.
As there is no harbor or beach landing, dinghies are lifted in and out of the water by a crane at the concrete wharf. Timing is everything with an incoming surge -- as one person gets on the wharf to man the crane, and the other attaches the dinghy bridle to the hook and gives the signal to lift the dinghy out of the water. The dinghy is then placed onto a trolley and wheeled to a free spot on the wharf.
Working the Crane
The town of Alofi had most services available and we found the people very helpful and friendly. We rented motorbikes for a few days to see as much of the island as possible. We found the island beautiful with many interesting places to explore. In January of 2004, Cyclone Heta tore through the island with 300 km/hr winds that destroyed 90% of the buildings. Reconstruction continues today...
One particular hike we enjoyed was Togo, which we did with friends Cress and Irena of "Conversations". The trail goes through the bush and then descends through a mass of ragged coral pinnacles to a flat where a passage leads off the edge of a ravine down a steep ladder to a sandy patch where coconut trees rise way up. From here, we hiked through the caves where the ocean comes pounding in among the rocks -- an incredible experience.
On Saturday during our stay in Niue, the local town fair was held at the high school grounds. There were numerous tents with lots of local food, crafts and home grown produce. One of the specialties in Niue is the coconut crabs. The islanders go out at night to hunt them. They are large bluish crabs with powerful claws. They were for sale at the fair and we just had to try some. They came with their claws tied with twine and wire. We had some friends drop them off at our boat in the cockpit. Upon our return to the boat, they had gotten out of the ties and were trying to escape through the scuppers. There had been a crab fight in the cockpit and one of them lost a leg! So it was time to get the pot of water boiling and have dinner....
We had a great time while in Niue, catching up with other cruisers and enjoying the local hospitality. But as usual, it was time to head west again....