25 August 2018
Photo: Avaiki Cave
We left Suwarrow on Tuesday 14th August, the 3 day passage to Niue was mainly reaching, not the most comfortable sailing angle for the crew, although it did make for a quick trip. The final morning as we made our way toward Alofi, Niue it was raining steadily and the seas where a little confused. Pelizeno arrived first in the early morning and cleared in before we arrived, so gave us the information on procedures.
We arrived with Raftkin at 14:30, called Niue radio and arranged a time to go ashore to meet the Customs officials. Getting ashore is interesting, due to the swell on the wharf you cannot leave your dinghy in the water. You use the crane provided to hoist the dinghy ashore onto a trailer and then park it on the wharf, reversing the process when you return to your boat. Time for dinner ashore at the local Indian restaurant and then back to the Dol for a nights rest. The swell in the anchorage was quite large making for a rolly night which did not interfere with post passage sleeping, by morning it had all calmed down. The anchorage is a roadstead anchorage and if the wind is from the west or strong from other directions is may become extremely uncomfortable.
We all went ashore to the Whale and Coral festival on Saturday morning, then for a coffee at Café Uga where we met Lynn, a lady who had lived on Waiheke Island, and had a daughter living in the same suburb of Sydney where David, Raftkin, grew up, it is a small world. A walk around ashore, then a quick stop back at the boats before going ashore again to pick up the rental cars arranged by Keith of Niue Yacht Club who we had been in contact with prior to arriving. We then visited the supermarket, which had lots of familiar products. Dinner ashore at the Pizza and Sushi bar then back to the boats.
We did not know what to expect of Niue but is has a really friendly feeling and has very close connections to New Zealand. We have only been here 24 hours yet we feel at home, the local currency is the NZ dollar and the people are very friendly and helpful. The highest point on the island is only 69ms with a local population of around 1700.
Sunday morning at 09:00 everyone was ashore for a day of exploration. We started with a visit to Keith’s to pick up bread and donuts he had collected for us and to get some advice on what to see, Keith has a tour operation on the island, and we were off to the first stop at Makefu Sea track. This track had to be done at low tide as the walk is across the coral flats, stopping for a swim in the natural pools along the way. The colours of the water and the natural features where great. Unfortunately the tide was coming in fast, we made our way up to the top of the ridge and then walked the final 500m to Avaiki caves trail, as the boys walked back to collect the cars.
Avaiki Cave is a large cathedral like cave with pools, perfect for a swim. To access the Avaiki Cave you walk through Palaha Caves with amazing stalagmites and stalactite formations. Once at the Avaiki Cave, the colours of the water and the coral was striking blues, purples and greens. We all enjoyed the swim and the kids found an underwater arch they could swim through, which linked 2 pools. David and Peter took the opportunity while the kids were cave exploring to swim and snorkel onto the outside of the reef.
It was then time for lunch, back to the cars and another drive around the pot holed roads to Avatele Beach and the Wash Away café. Again the view was amazing, with coral reefs and crystal clear water. The Wash Away Café was an interesting place, you wrote your order in a book and took a number, which the chef then prepared. Drinks was self-service, again you wrote what you took out of the refrigerator in a book, a total honesty system.
After lunch we drove to the Togo Chasm. The trail starts through rain forest, then down the escarpment through amazing rock formations to the 28 rung, vertical ladder into the chasm floor. The swamp in the oasis at the bottom used to be a swimming hole before it was sealed off by cyclone Heta in 2004, you would not want to swim in it now.
Time to head back to the mini golf and café in Alofi where we had arrange to pick up rotisserie chicken and salad, originally for lunch but became dinner. When we arrived at the mini golf it transpired the guy that owned it was Mark Blumsky, a former business associate of Brian’s. We had drinks, chatted for a while, made friends with Bingo the puppy, then had a game of mini golf, by which time it was decided to have the chicken and salad “in” and not take-away. What a great way to end a great day, on the hill top overlooking the anchorage with friends old and new.
Monday morning we were all ashore again at 09:30 ready for another day of exploring. We started at the hydroponics farm, another of Mark’s businesses. It was interesting to see how the operation worked and understand the reasons behind it. Mark told us the greatest soil depth on Niue is between 200 -900mm, making it difficult to grow vegetables and herbs in the ground.
From the farm we headed back north to Matapa Chasm via the Niue museum. When we walked out of the trail into the chasm we were amazed, it is best to visit the chasm around midday when the sun is at its peak and we could see why. The chasm is high rock walls and quite narrow and you need the sun high in the sky to appreciate the stunning blue water. We swam and snorkeled to the end of the chasm where it meets the open ocean, although there is a large rock formation which means the swell gets in around the edges. Lunch was a picnic of chicken and salads with fresh bread in the amazing chasm setting.
After lunch we took the snorkel gear back to the cars and walked the second track from the car park to the Talava Arches. The arches are again accessed via a cave with stalagmites and stalactites, which opens to view natural stone arches, through which the ocean ebbs and flows. There were also more caves to explore. Back to the cars and a visit to the supermarket, before a quick trip to the boats for a shower and change, then back ashore to return the cars. Dinner was booked at Fala La La café, arriving at 18:00 and not leaving till 20:00, what a day.
Tuesday was Pete’s birthday and also clear out day for Raftkin and Dol. We started with pancakes and coffee for breakfast on Pelizeno. David and Brian went ashore to clear out, with Raftkin leaving for Tonga at 11:30. We went ashore to do internet and had lunch with Peter, Lisa and Zenon at the mini golf, then dropped the mooring at 15:30, following Raftkin to Tonga.