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Caves, Chasms and Whales

08 September 2010 | Alofi, Niue
Ken
What a cool place! Niue is one of the most unique islands you can visit on the planet. It is a elevated atoll shaped like a two-tiered wedding cake with two terraces. Niue is one of the largest coral islands in the world. The lower terrace rises sharply from the seas surface creating 20 meter cliffs which virtually surround the island like a fortress. Inland, the second terrace rises abruptly from the coastal belt to a central plateau some 60 meters above the ocean. A fringing reef borders much of the coast, but many places the ocean breakers smash directly into the precipitous cliffs making it difficult to impossible to anchor anywhere near the island other than the mooring field at Alofi. Faulting during the islands up-lifting has created the coral chasms and crevices which make the surface appear other-worldly and ominous. Water dripping from the ceilings of these caverns and crevices has produced stalactites and stalagmites producing a sense of the surreal.

Niue is also unique in that it wasn't converted to Christianity until 1850 because the islanders who were made-up of Samoans and Tongans and who feared European diseases, fought fiercely to repel anyone from landing on Niue. Captain Cook made 3 landings in 1774 but got a hostile reception from warriors with red painted teeth. Cook called the island the Savage Island.

We rented a 4x4 Land Cruiser with our friends Freezing Rain and have been exploring the many caves and chasms around the island as well as the many bars which there seems to be equally as many. It seems that the New Zealand influence warrants a beer stop at the end of any hike. My kinda place!

Today we are going diving with the humpback whales. Tomorrow will be two cave dives and Friday will be two dives with sea snakes and coral chasms. Lori will not be doing the cave dive. Hopefully we will be able get some good pictures. Also, our good Nikon camera is not working due to the Li-Ion rechargeable battery reaching the end of it's life. So, you will likely notice a decrease in the quality of our pictures for a short time until we find a replacement battery.

Oh yeah, Lori has now broken 3 of her toes while hiking yesterday. So now, she has a broken middle finger which points left, and toes that point in the opposite direction. She has also fallen off two boats and I'm concerned that our friends are going to stop inviting us over to dinner in fear that she will seriously injure herself. I'm looking for some bubble wrapped and duct tape ;-)
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