Unlike its neighbors Nuie avoided adapting the traditional Polynesian power hierarchy of priests and chiefs; and instead, relied on family or clan based units united under a ‘democratically’ elected monarch. This made Niueans very independent, both of each other and from their neighbors, and they remain so today. Remember, smallest independently governed country in the world – except they can only survive with about NZ$5,000,000 annual contribution from
We rented a car one day and visited several points of interest around the island. During this excursion we also noted the extremely high number of abandoned homes dotting the island. We drove through one village where only 2 of the first 13 homes were occupied; the rest were abandoned. You can’t blame these people for leaving their homeland and going to
We think that the final blow to the inhabitants of
First on our self-guided island tour was Togo Chasm. This is pronounced “ton-goh” with the emphasis on the first syllable. I do not know what causes some Polynesian words to include the “N” sound when the word contains no “N.” The town of
in Samoa is one of these words. It is pronounced Pan-goh Pan-goh for some
reason. Wish I knew more about
Polynesian phonetics. Our Polynesian
phrasebook does not elaborate on phonetics.
Let us continue on with the description of our tour. The paved road ended and became a rutted sand road several miles before reaching the walking path to Togo Chasm. First there is a long walk through the forest. The forest floor is covered with very thin soil and sharp jagged limestone sticks up everywhere. It felt sharp even through our hiking shoes. The odd thing was that there were thousands and thousands of bromeliads growing straight out of the limestone, with no soil at all. I know that bromeliads obtain nutrients from the air, but it still looked strange to see huge healthy plants growing straight out of rough stone.
The trail exited the forest and we beheld a large field of tall limestone peaks in all directions, some 20-feet high, all the way to the drop-off down to the ocean. Someone had used concrete to make a very narrow path through and over the jagged sharp limestone peaks. They had also installed poles and hand ropes in the most dangerous areas. It was quite a hike across and down the limestone and I cannot imagine how anyone possibly got through this area without that concrete pathway. Seems like you would be cut to pieces.
As we neared the drop-off down to the ocean, the path did a sharp double U-turn and changed into a sand pathway. At the end of the sand path we found a very tall ladder leading down to a pretty pocket beach filled with palm trees. Bill climbed down the ladder to check it out, but my legs were already quivering from the strenuous walk across the limestone and I opted not to climb down to the pretty little sandy spit surrounded by high stone. I fell and hurt my knee when we were at Ahe in the Tuamotos 2/12 months ago and am still having lots of knee pain. So this walk was stretching my physical limits. Bill took a few photos and we reversed and hiked back out of there. We had been complaining to each other that we needed to get off the boat more often and get more exercise. Today we got all the exercise we could have wanted.
We checked the map and decided not to continue farther northward on the eastern road since we did not know if it became paved again or if it remained unpaved sand all the way up the eastern coast. We located the only road that crosses the island and made our way back to the main town of
and headed north up
the western coast. There are a
half-dozen caves along this coast and we wanted to check out a few of
them. Until the arrival of Christian missionaries
in the mid 1800’s, Niuean lived within the many caves found around the island,
most along the shoreline. Alofi
We also visited the New Zealand High Council to apply for 6-month multi-entry visas. Our guide books state that this visa should be obtained before arriving in
. As New Zealand US
citizens we can arrive in New Zealand
without this visa and then deal with extensions, but it is supposed to simplify
things and be less costly if you obtain this visa prior to arrival in . We are supposed to return and pick-up our
passports (hopefully with the visas enclosed) this afternoon. New Zealand
Heavy weather is predicted to start arriving in the area on Saturday afternoon and winds to 30 knots are predicted through Tuesday; so we hope that our passports and visas are ready this afternoon so we can depart very early tomorrow morning. The passage to Vava’U Group of
247 miles. If we depart Tonga Niue by 0500 Friday morning then we should arrive in
Vava’U around noon to 1400 on Saturday, which will actually be Sunday. We cross the dateline when entering
so we jump forward one day. Tonga
Internet access in
is limited so do not be alarmed if we do not update often. Tonga