All you need to know about Niue
Please read our Frequently Asked Questions below.
To find more information on Niue, click on the links below.
Niue Island Travel Guide - A travel guide to Niue Island from Moon Handbooks South Pacific by David Stanley.
The official Niue site with maps, information on cultural events, and links to more specific information such as the climate.
Visit this site to get more information on deep sea fishing, the species, and best fishing times and seasons.
Artist Mark Cross is a long term Niue resident who has his studio at Liku village. He also includes social comment on his web site
Niue came out top of the list in the Pacific after extensive research to find a destination that would appeal to those who enjoy the outdoors, who want a total break from everyday busy lives, an unspoiled, natural, eco-minded destination. Niue has has appeal for people who are flexible and adaptable but want a good standard of infrastructure, water, roading, transport, accommodation and political stability, and who care about the environment. Do your homework and read up about Niue because it is different, and you will have the best holiday experience by being prepared.
What does Niue not have?
Niue does not have malls, 24-hour shopping, excitement, and life in the fast lane. The locals like it that way, and so do visitors who appreciate peace, quiet, open air and being able to explore the natural beauty of the island. Shop on your way to and from Niue. .
Does Niue have Beaches?
Yes, they are little discover-for-yourself beaches hidden down sea tracks. Niue’s beaches are small, boutique and beautiful, but they are all natural and found dotted around the coast, particularly on the western side of the island. The largest is at Avatele Village on the south west corner of Niue, also at Tamakautoga village sea track there is a little curved beach with easy access.
The ocean around Niue is exceptionally clear, why is this?
There is little sediment run-off as the island is composed of coral rock (karst) and the topsoil layer is thin. Also, there are no rivers on Niue and the rain soaks down through the rock rather than running off into the sea. Water clarity sometimes up to 80 metres makes for excellent diving conditions.
Do the Niuean people welcome tourists?
Niuean people are friendly and welcome visitors to their country. They will talk to you and be interested to know about you. On the road you will get used to waving to passing motorists. If you are walking it is likely offers of rides will be made. If you want to know something, ask. Most Niueans speak English although some of the older people prefer to speak Niuean.
The Niuean Way
You are visiting an island where Polynesia and Western ways mix. Be prepared to be captured by the slower pace of life. Take things as they come, don’t rush, accept that time is not important in the general daily round. If a palagi (white person) time is given, that is pretty much when it will happen. Niuean time is much more flexible.
Just what size is Niue?
Niue is small, but not tiny. While larger than Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, Niue would comfortably fit inside Lake Taupo. The circle road around the island is 65 k and nowhere are you more than 15 k from Alofi.
What is the housing like?
There is a variety of housing styles on Niue. More recent houses are similar to suburban NZ homes with similar services. What are called hurricane houses are given this name as they were built following cyclone damage in the 1950s and again in 1960-61. These began as simple rectangular houses with an external facilities. Over the years kitchens and bathrooms have been incorporated and often there are extended porches and covered areas to give extra living space.
On Niue you will not see the open fale style of home such as on Samoa.
Your holiday home is yours to enjoy, without interruption. Homes are not serviced during your stay. If you would rather not do the occasional sweep around, put out the rubbish for collection, and so on, housekeeping can be arranged (extra cost). Spare linen is provided, as are cleaning materials. Most people find a few minutes daily housekeeping is not onerous. We ask that you leave the house clean and tidy on departure.
What length of Holiday is recommended?
If a week is all you can manage, enjoy it but you may be fairly busy seeing all the sights and taking some tours. Better still is a longer to give you time to fully relax and explore the island, and even three weeks or a month for a truly relaxing time and being able to catch up on reading and warmth if your holiday time is in the winter months (May-September). Longer than that and you can truly capture the essence of the Polynesian lifestyle that is Niue.
Can longer stays be arranged?
There is a mind-set change from a holiday to a longer lifestyle stay. A three month or longer stay is ideal for people wanting to escape the chills of NZ winter, who desire peace, perhaps where they can write, where family can visit, where a new culture and its challenges can be met, or to live the tropical life for a year or two. House arrangements move onto a weekly /monthly rental basis and average around NZ$500 per week plus outgoings (power, gas, garden maintenance) for a furnished house. With internet access keeping in touch is easy. Perhaps you want to write, have family visit, explore a new culture and its challenges. In time community involvement opportunities may arise as you become known, make friends and start to participate in village life. Your skill base and interests will influence the opportunities as you become known, make friends and start to participate in village life. For instance, reading assistance at the schools is usually welcomed, there are environmental projects to investigate, and opportunities to learn to weave, carve, and of course, play golf, fish, read, walk, swim and so on.
Are there Residency requirements to meet?
Entry requirements to Niue for lifestyle stays of up to three months are relatively straightforward, but we do recommend a holiday first to see if Niue truly appeals to you. Call at Immigration to discuss your plans.
Yes, we'll say it again, Niue does have beaches, but they are beautiful little boutique beaches. You’ll have to go looking for the amazing little private sandy coves. Seek them out down the sea tracks, they have a habit of hiding around the net rocky headland. The largest beach, Avatele, is in the south-west of Niue. That’s it in the banner heading on the home page. Often you will have the beach to yourselves and from there can explore the reef or swim and snorkel in the rock pools. That said, keep an eye on the tide conditions when out for a picnic or exploring the coastline.
Where can you snorkel?
There is good snorkelling at Avatele Beach, Limu Pools, Matapa Chasm (also good for swimming).
Some tours are number or weather dependent, others operate infrequently or on demand, so inquire early in your holiday through the Tourism Office or direct to operators to ensure you get to experience the events on offer.
Some established tours are:
- Ebony's Bush Tour which introduces the rain forest, old ways of life, survival and food.
- Tali’s Cave Tour is on the north western part of the island and takes you underground into a couple of the many caves on Niue.
- Herman’s Reef Tour explores the reef in the Namukulu area. This trip is weather and tide dependent.
- The Glass Bottom Boat lets you stay dry but yet see the underwater beauty of the reef and nearby areas.
- Fishing Charters. Several semi-commercial fishermen will take visitors out, and two operators have rod fishing available. As fishing is weather and sea condition dependent, arrangements are best made when you arrive on Niue. Ask at Tourism.
- Dive and Snorkel: Trips operate year round. Trips are weather dependent and while prior registration of interest in dive trips is recommended if you want to include several dives on your visit, snorkel trips can be booked on arrival.
- Whale and Dolphin Encounters: From mid July to October whales are often seen close to shore and several operators holdwhale and dolphin encounters as conditions allow.
Niue has no public transport. Options are hire vehicles, vans, cars, motor bikes, motor cycles. There are discounts for full week bookings. Most operators have a self-insurance provision for hire vehicles.
We recommend transport hire for the duration of your stay and suggest you book it for airport pick-up on arrival. Then you have flexibility and perhaps supplement this with the occasional cycle hire to explore bush tracks (no-go for most rental cars). Fit and keen cyclists may find pedal power sufficient and supplement this with an occasional day car hire. Car operators are generally happy for you to drop your car at the airport on departure.
Fuel is available in Alofi . If you have an airport drop-off arranged for your rental, top up the fuel on your way to the airport.
The main roads on Niue are sealed. Bush roads are not sealed but are generally well worn by regular use by families going to their bush gardens. The bush roads provide lots of exploration by cycle, motor bike and 4WD. Rental car hire excludes use on unsealed bush roads.
Maps of bike trails are available from the Visitor Centre.
The open road speed is 60 k per hour, in the villages 40 k. Slow down to island time and enjoy.
Niue has STD telephones and both Wifi and dial up internet services. There is an internet café in Alofi, the main town, and aerials in many villages. The local station, Radio Sunshine broadcasts Monday-Saturday with morning news from Radio New Zealand International. It is also the way to find out what is on that day. There is a local TV station that broadcasts international news, usually from the BBC early evening and TV One news is delay broadcast later in the evening. There is no daily newspaper and the local newspaper carries mainly family and island events. There is no advertising on TV or radio.
There is now international cellphone coverage. Call at Telecom or ask at the airport about a local SIM card and you are good to go.
There are WIFI hotspots around the island, and through Telecom and Kainiu Internet in Alofi there are options for internet access. Charges apply for some services.
Will I miss the major rugby games?
Very unlikely as Niue TV usually has a live link to the major games. Niueans are sports fans, particularly of rugby and if you miss the live broadcast, there could well be a replay broadcast. Broadcasting services are changing, and some are being introduced in 2017,
If shopping has no appeal, Niue will be a dream destination. There are no malls and boutiques so shopaholics must put this passion on hold when visiting Niue. There are craft, handwork and screen print shops in Alofi and craft shops in other villages. The supermarket and shops in Alofi carry a general range, similar to what is available in a smaller NZ town.
During the main visitor season, June to October, it is possible to eat out each night and also find cafés and lunch bars for daytime eating. Niuean cuisine has touches of Polynesia and is generally simple and sustaining. If a village show is on during your visit, the food stalls offer traditional umu (earth/hot rock oven) cooked local delicacies. It is best to pack a picnic for days out exploring.
What groceries are available?
Food. For a self-catering holiday there is a reasonable selection of grocery, deli and butcher items available and it is possible to bring grocery items into Niue including fresh vegetables to supplement local supplies, or to cover specific dietary needs. Meat should be vacuum packed. Declare groceries on your arrival card. Groceries are up to double NZ prices, reflecting the isolation and freight for sea or air shipments, and Government levies on other than staples.
You may wish to bring salad items as regular supplies cannot be assured.
If you have specific dietary needs, bring items with you as local shops probably will have nothing available.
The Bond Store is the only liquor outlet apart from direct purchases at bars and cafes. If you do not bring in your full duty free allowance, you have a couple of days where you can buy duty free at the Bond Store in Alofi, on presentation of your boarding pass. Local bakeries have fresh bread available daily.
Health and Safety
Hospital. The Niue Foou Hospital is at Kaimisi, inland from Alofi. Completed in 2006, it has good facilities and is the only medical centre on Niue. Dental services are available and the pharmacy is the only dispensing chemist. Travellers should bring medication to last their visit.
Bugs and Critters: Niue is fortunate to have no really nasty bugs, and there are no wild animals or snakes. Coconut crabs hide away, but beware, they have incredibly strong claws. A hornet can give an irritating bite, and cuts and grazes, especially from the coral rocks, need to be attended to promptly. Treatment and advice is available from the hospital. There are mosquitos so repellant is recommended, but they are not disease carrying. Our houses are insect screened for comfort.
Water Supply: Niue has piped water to all villages. Rain filters through the coral limestone rock and is stored in a fresh water lens. From bores around the island water is piped to storage tanks and then to homes. The water is safe to drink, but needs to be introduced gradually. Many visitors prefer to purchase bottled water.
Travellers must carry comprehensive medical insurance, including medi-vac cover. While hospital treatment costs on Niue are very reasonable, for any serious conditions that cannot be handled locally a medivac by air to NZ is arranged. Travellers are responsible for their own personal safety at all times on Niue whether around and in your accommodation property or on any visits, premises or excursions.
Temperatures: Overnight there can be a drop of six degrees or so which usually means it is comfortable for sleeping. Winter (April-May to October-November) are the cooler and drier months with daytime temperatures in the mid 20s. Rains can be sudden and heavy but do not usually last long.
Summer, November-March, are the hotter and wetter months. Humidity is higher but not oppressively so. Rainfall is heavier and may last longer.
Cyclones: In the South Pacific the cyclone season is late November through to end April. Water temperatures higher than 28 degrees celcius are necessary for cyclones to form. There is a warning system in place and good forecasting and facilities for shelter. Many years there are no damage causing cyclones.
Rainfall: Rainfall is spread throughout the year with November to March the wetter months, April to November the drier.
Serious crime is almost unknown on Niue. There is a Police Station in Alofi and the larger villages all have a resident policeman. Do lock rental cars when out at tourist spots.
Niue is an independent self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand. The parliament is elected every three years. From the 20 assembly men, 14 represent villages and 6 are elected on the common roll. The head of government is the Premier. The NZ High Commissioner is the only diplomatic presence on Niue.
What clothing to pack?
Pack lightweight clothing with a warmer wrap or jacket for evenings. A jacket for boating activities and sudden rain showers. Casual clothing is fine, and shorts and pants are acceptable most places. Bring a sarong or wrap, to cover up skimpy swim wear in villages and public areas away from the beach.
What other stuff is useful to bring?
Bring your swim suit, cover-ups, snorkel/mask and fins. Camera, sunhat, sunscreen, insect repellent, all your cosmetics and medications. The selection of toiletries in the shops is very limited.
The custom is to take off shoes at the door in private homes, so pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Bring reef shoes for exploring the reef and swimming. Sturdy walking shoes/sneakers for bush track excursions are recommended as it can be rocky and uneven underfoot. Flip flops and sandals/scuffs fit most needs. It is worth considering bringing a walking pole, even an old ski pole, to provide extra support when out walking.
Most Sunday services are in Niuean language, but as Niuean congregations enjoy their singing, it is a little bit of time out to sit quietly, listen and enjoy the service. Niueans dress more formally for church. For visitors, skirts for the ladies, a hat is not mandatory but all the Niuean women wear hats. Your sunhat will be just fine. Men, a shirt but not necessarily a tie, long trousers.
What religions are represented on Niue?
Ekelesia Niue is the main denomination with churches in all villages. This developed form the London Missionary Society teachings and is Presbyterian based. Other religions represented include Roman Catholic, Assembly of God, Jehovahs Witness, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Christian Outreach.
There is no fishing or boating allowed on Sundays, and people are asked to be quiet driving through villages, particularly during church services. During the running of the kalaoma fish early in the year some beaches may be closed for swimming. Cover up skimpy bathing costumes in public.
Niue is a make-your-own-fun destination. For evenings, there are a few dining-entertainment options but there are DVD hire shops, sometimes a bingo fund-raiser. Fund raising dances are held most weekends and are popular with the young but the music is LOUD. Bring books, games, CDs and DVDs. At the Niue Back Packers in the Swan Jessop shop they have a book exchange.
P.S. Can't holiday Niue this time but want the 'away from it all' experience in NZ?
Check out Okiwi Bay Holiday Park and Lodge.
Pam and Ian are Niue fans and will regale you with their Niue experiences while you enjoy the beauty and peace of the Marlborough Sounds.