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Without question, the most unique islands in the Pacific, Niue is a lifted coral reef. Long ago, a volcano lifted itself above the seas, lived, died, and subsided to erosion and a sinking sea floor. At some later time, the sinking changed to a rising floor and the old reef system was raised above the surface. Niue was born!
This difference means that Niue has not one breach or break in its defensive cliffs on which to land. Somehow, the ancient Polynesians were able to effect a landing and set up a community. Not to be caught napping, when Captain Cook arrived, he was given the boot every time he tried to land and he named the island the "Savage Island", a moniker still causing a smirk among the residents.
80% of the Niuean live in New Zealand and the one-island nation is a free associate of NZ, so all islanders have duel citizenship. Currently on the island live 1200 residents in 14 villages. Many villages are empty since entire family units have migrated to New Zealand. With such a small population, Niue is desperately seeking a commercial base to provide some income to the island. Fishing and other industries have all failed, and tourism is now the discussed industry, although they are, quite properly, leery of having uncontrolled "industrial tourism" such as we have in Alaska.
The people are the friendliest that we've yet met. With so few residents, most can know everyone on the island, making it an especially close-knit community.
Conni was on watch when we arrived at Niue in early morning. She snapped this photo of a dawn with Niue in the foreground.
Looking forward, Niue arrises out of the sea at dawn. After a six-day crossing, it's such a relief to see land and smell the perfume of an island.
After checking in through customs, we packed and went sightseeing. This is one of the very few stretch of sand on the entire island. Bill, as always, had to get his feet wet.
In the mooring field at last, we see our old friends on LBO, the large Australian catamaran.
The cliffs of Niue are a formidable barrier to landing.
The Niue Yacht Club is welcoming establishment offering the moorings, Internet, shower facilities, and more.
S/V Blue Marble. Question 1: how the hell did this thing get behind that wall? There is a single crane on Niue and it set it down here. Why? A group of young Norwegian cruisers had a mooring break and the boat went ashore. The insurance company totaled it and a resident Frenchman bought it for $50,000. A few year's work, and the guy has a $400,000 yacht on which he plans to sail away. Just another crazy cruising story.
Lovely Conni strolls down main street of Alofi, Niue.
Our chariot, our colleague, our home, our girl...Wings lies to a mooring, enjoying a much needed and deserved rest.
See what I mean? Rock everywhere, little beach, and steep cliffs are not an inviting aspect of Niue's shoreline. But it's certainly beautiful. Rain is caught on the uplifted reef and trickles down to the sea where it sits on a bubble of fresh water on top of the salt water. The seas around Niue are some of the clearest in the world and snorkeling and diving are world-class.
Lovely Conni strikes a pose on the rocks above the only beach.
This building houses the entire government of Niue.
The mooring field with Wings in the middle. At right is Iskander with its two Frenchmen, and to our left and above is Andante with its two Norwegian crew, and LBO, owned by the wonderful Peter and Veronica.
The one and only dock showing the lift systems One raises the dinghy using the lift, moves it to parking on a small trolley, and stows it. The odd slatted triangle is the lower range light and sign. There's an upper one and one aligns the two vertical spaces to stay in the channel.
Conni peruses the shelves.
A local, flower in her hair and fan in her nand, strolls to Sunday services.
Conni guides the boat after we've connected the lift hook to the dinghy.
The Washaway Bar has earned its name through several typhoons. It's un-staffed, and one simply records what one consumes and leaves money.
Our Norwegian friends, Hans and Liv, offered us a ride around the island in their rental car. Hans agreed to shoot this photo.
In front of the Washaway these two local boats came zooming through a narrow channel. They'll get lifted by the hand-powered crane at right.
Hans leads the way to a "chasm", a deep, eroded fissure in the limestone. The limestone, a very soft and water-soluble rock, weathers easily and quickly, leaving odd shapes with sharp edges.
Conni the arachnologist snapped this photo of spider condo of many levels.
Success! A coconut palm sprouts in the chasm.
Hans, Liv, and Bill edge down the steps toward the bottom.
Hans points to something and Bill obliges and listens.
Conni stoops to drink this pure water that's filtered through the limestone. Stalagmites have already started to form. The water, as you can tell, is invisibly clear.
The tell-tale sign of the island's formation, a coral fossil shows that the rock was originally a coral reef. What must the world have been like when this thing was alive?
Lovely Conni poses in front of a coral/limestone outcropping. Again, the limestone is so soft and soluble that it forms these outrageous shapes.
A forbidding coastline shows how difficult a landing might be. Virtually all of the island is like this.
A memorial to a deceased local art teacher, this living memorial is constantly replenished by local students.
Hans and Liv tour the larger construction.
Yes, amazing food offered by Ari, the Niue resident for 20 years. An Israeli by birth, he made his money in the pager market in Los Angeles and then went looking for place to hang. Eventually he found Niue and made it his home. He hires a Japanese sushi chef and his small fleet of imported Malaysian fishers provide fresh fish for the sushi.
Enjoying lunch with Hans and Liv, this is our appetizer of yellow-fin sushi, caught that morning and lightly seared.
My plate of the sampler and Conni's bowl of sashimi selection. Both were simply excellent.
Yes, it was excellent! Nothing remains but empty wine bottles and scraps of food.
Hans and Liv pose along with us in front of the yacht club. They are very nice people and we'd love to keep in touch.
A cruiser's dream shower: large, hot water, clean.
As we head back to the boat, Bill drags the trolley and our dinghy back to the edge of the dock toward the waiting lift hook.
Bill guides the dinghy back into the water while Conni runs the lift controls. We'd never done anything like that but soon were competent operators. As you can see behind, there is nothing but cliff.
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