266 NIUATOPUTAPU www.lonelyplanet.com
www.lonelyplanet.com NIUATOPUTAPU •• Information 267
GETTING THERE & AWAY visit the Niuas by sea. See p286 for more
Any trip to the Niuas should be approached information.
THE NIUAFO’OU MEGAPODE
with flexibility, as weather conditions often Most visitors to the Niuas arrive on the Niuafo’ou’s fascinating brown and grey Niuafo’ou megapode (Megapodius pritchardii), locally
cause delays and cancellations of services. 100-odd cruisers that pass through en route known as malau, spends the day on the forest floor, subsisting on seeds, insects, worms, fruit
Airlines Tonga Air Fiji (Airlines Tonga; 23690; fax to Samoa, Fiji and Tonga’s Vava’u Group, and even small geckos, and roosts in the treetops.
23238; www.airlinestonga.com) flies from Tonga- generally between the months of June and Megapode pairs inhabit the shores of Niuafo’ou’s crater lakes, keeping track of each other
tapu via Vava’u for Niutoputapu’s Mata’aho September. Dur ing this season you may be with a sort of mating duet. When it’s time to lay an egg, a megapode hen digs a burrow 1m to
Airport (one-way fare from Tongatapu/ able to join a crew on a yacht deapting from 2m deep in the loose volcanic soil near active steam vents (usually in the same place where she
Vava’u T$390/245) and Niuafo’ou’s Queen ’Apia (Samoa) or from Pago Pago (Ameri- herself hatched). She deposits a disproportionately large egg and covers it with earth, leaving it
Lavinia Airport (T$430/285). can Samoa) for Niuatoputapu. to incubate unattended in the naturally heated volcanic environment. A hen may lay up to 10
The MV ’Olovaha travels the 240km dis- eggs, normally at intervals of about two weeks.
tance north from Vava’u to Niuatoputapu The chicks hatch after around four weeks and are forced to make their own way to the sur-
roughly once every six weeks (depending NIUATOPUTAPU face over a couple of days, at risk from the long-legged ants that head for their eyes. When
on government subsidies). It continues to they finally emerge from this gruelling ‘birth’, they bear a full coat of feathers and are able to
Niuafo’ou (640km north and slightly west area 18 sq km / pop 1283 fly and fend for themselves.
of Tongatapu), returning a couple of days The squashed sombrero shape of Niuatop- Owls and domestic cats prey on adult megapodes, but the greatest threat is from humans.
later on the long (2½-day) return jour- utapu (meaning ‘Very Sacred Coconut’) is Habitat destruction and the local predilection for eggs and flesh are driving this incredible bird
ney to Tongatapu. Getting to Niuafo’ou made up of a steep and narrow central ridge to extinction. A recent experiment saw the transplanting of chicks to the uninhabited volcanic
by boat is a fraught business as the island 130m high, and surrounding coastal plains. island of Late, in the Vava’u Group.
lacks a decent anchorage or landing site, Much of this is plantation land, with many
leaving access to the mercy of wind and archaeological sites hidden in the under-
waves (see the boxed text, p270 ). And if growth waiting to be explored. INFORMATION gend). A swim here will take the bite out of
the weather isn’t at its best, the boat must The north coast is bounded by a series Sleepy Hihifo is the Niuas’ ‘capital’ and a typically sticky Niuas day. The spectacle of
turn around and leave without stopping. of reefs, but there is a passage through to boasts a police station, a post office and a palangi (foreigners) swimming will quickly
Always check the ’Olovaha’s schedule in Falehau Wharf; yachts anchor just north- couple of small stores. draw an audience. Kids appear to ditch
Nuku’alofa before you make any plans to west of here. Change cash and travellers cheques at the school and adults abandon their work, just
Treasury, though it sometimes runs out of to attend the free entertainment.
0 1 km
0 0.5 miles
cash so bring pa’anga (Tongan currency)
from Tongatapu. You’ll find the police sta- Beaches & Swimming
tion, post office and customs office all situ- The most beautiful beaches are on the north-
S O U T H P A C I F I C
ated in the Government Offices. west side of the island and on Hunganga, an
O C E A N Main
offshore islet. Near Hihifo, a maze of shal-
1 SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES low waterways winds between the islets of
Niuatoputapu’s most interesting sights can Nukuseilala, Tafuna, Tavili and Hunganga.
be covered over a couple of days’ pleasur- At low tide, they form vast expanses of sand
able walking; you’ll be greeted by smiles and leaning palms, and you can walk any- THE NIU
Tapu Jetty/Wharf and a ‘What is your name?’ from every where in the area by wading through a few
child you meet (exhausting their English centimetres of water. At high tide the pas-
vocabulary in the process). sages (especially between Niuatoputapu and
The island is surrounded by magnificent Hunganga) are excellent for swimming.
THE NIU 7
Hunganga white beaches of remarkable diversity and Makamimisi (Weeping Rock), right on the
2 2 9
Dive Site is easily circumnavigated in seven to eight coast in Vaipoa, is the outlet to the sea for
Wreck hours (an 11km round trip).
Ridge Camping Site
a spring that’s a little way inland; when it’s
Ridge There’s good diving outside the reef, and dry, you can pound on this rock with an-
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
plenty of lobster, but no diving equipment other rock to bring up fresh water.
Camping Site Makamimisi (Weeping Rock)......3 B2
is available on the island. Boat trips can be
Nukuseilala Mormon Church........................4 C2
Niutoua Spring...........................5 A2 arranged with local fishermen for around Ridge Walk
T$30 per hour. The central ridge, comprising three smaller
Kaloline Guesthouse...................6 B2 ridges, affords a grand view of the coastal
Airport Palm Tree Island Resort..............7 A2
Niutoua Spring plain and the multicoloured reefs of the
Bank of Tonga......................1 B2 EATING The cool, sparkling pool of Niutoua Spring lagoon. Reaching it requires a bit of ef-
Customs............................(see 2) Bakery........................................8 B2
Government Offices.............2 B2 Fale Koloa...................................9 B2
flows through a crack in the rock just west fort. From the village of Vaipoa, take the
Police Station.....................(see 2) of Hihifo. It’s full of fish, though fishing route past the bakery and Mormon church,
Post Office........................(see 2) SHOPPING
Namolimu here is banned (for reasons why, listen to then continue upwards through the maze
Toku (258km) Pt
Treasury............................(see 2) Commodities Board & Shop.....10 B2
one of the four versions of the spring’s le- of trails until you reach a very steep taro
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