Most interesting landmarks of Niue

Chasms and caves

"Specialty" of Niue is its caves and chasms. Niue has very special caves – they start shortly before the sea coast as narrow chasms. As one goes ahead, chasm turns into a beautiful cave with stalactites and stalagmites. Finally, the cave opens towards the sea. Thus these caves have at least two entrances – one inland and one towards the sea.

Some of these caves were well suited to everyday needs – thus until recent times many Niue people lived in them.

Below are listed some notable examples of such caves (but there are many more):

  • Ana Mahaga Underwater Cave (Limu Twin Caves) – north-western part, in the sea. The diver can enter one of two vertical chimneys and, as he dives deeper, he reaches a cave which extends to the edge of the reef. Other impressive underwater cave is Dome which goes some 30 m under the mainland.
  • Anapala Chasm – south-eastern part. Cave with a stream in it. The roof of this cave has partly collapsed. Inside is located a spring with good drinking water, it is used by local people since old times.
  • Anatoloa Cave – eastern part. Possibly – site of ritual burials in the past, legendary abode of a powerful god. Monument of archaeology – historical cave shelter, used already 2000 years ago. Human bones.
  • Avaiki Cave – western coast. Legendary first landing place on the island. One cave is available through a narrow gorge, it reaches the coast. This cave has amazing stalactites and stalagmites. From the first cave is available another cave as well. This other cave has beautiful dripstone formations – giant stalactites hanging over a large pool. The pool with its lucid water resembles a giant aquarium with interesting marine life in it. Cave served as a shelter in the 13th – 15th centuries.
  • Matapa Chasm – gorge with natural pool, some 10 m tall walls. As one approaches the sea, the noise of waves in the chasm is overwhelming. Served as a shelter in the 17th – 20th centuries.
  • Palaha Cave – western coast. One of the biggest caves on the island, close to Avaiki Cave. Numerous smaller seaside caves are available through this cave.
  • Talava Arches and Caves (often erroneously: Tavala Arches) – northern coast. One of the major sights in Niue: beautiful cave with three huge natural arches. After entering the cave, there are two exits – one towards the sea with one enormous natural arch visible (approximately 7 m high and 20 – 25 m wide), another – to a sinkhole with two other large natural arches. From the sinkhole are available some more caves. Sinkhole and arches have formed by collapse of cave roof. First seen by Captain Cook.
  • Togo Chasm – south eastern part. Located in impressive karst landscape. Nearby: natural arch, smaller caves with speleothems.
  • Ulupaka – eastern coast. Longer cave with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Here are located ancient cave shelters which were used in the 13th – 15th centuries.
  • Vaikona Chasm – south-eastern part. Impressive chasm with a cave towards the sea. In this cave one should dive from one room to another.
Other landmarks
Karst landscape at Huvalu Forest, Niue
Karst landscape at Huvalu Forest / vuorikari, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Anakuli Cave – western coast north from Alofi. In this cave have been found remnants of two species of extinct birds, presumably endemic to Niue. One is night heron Nycticorax kalavikai, another – a rail Gallirallus huiatua. Found also remnants of the extinct "Niuafo’ou" Megapode (Megapodius pritchardii), whose remnants have been found also in Tonga.
  • Huvalu Forest – south-eastern part. The most authentic part of pristine tropical forest in Niue. Three areas in the central part of this forest is "tapu": off limits to anyone.
  • Karst landscape at Huvalu Forest – south-eastern part, along the sea. A belt of impressive karst landscape, consisting of thousands of upright, 5-8 m tall limestone peaks with sharp edges.
  • Snake Gully – southern part, less than 20 m long underwater cave. Here live numerous endemic Niue sea snakes (katuali (Laticauda schystorhyncha)) who on a regular basis rise up to breathe. These snakes have extremely toxic venom but are docile. At times hundreds of snakes can be seen. Here are living numerous other sea creatures as well.

Described landmarks of Niue

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Niue is associated with New Zealand – but nevertheless this is an independent nation.
It is one of the largest coral islands in the world – 260 km² large. Here is no tourist hotspot – in fact, this island is experiencing unprecedented emigration – but nevertheless, this is a tropical island with lots of charms.
Highlights of the island are its unique caves and unbelievably lucid sea with lots of attractions for divers.

Video of Niue

REISEbazaar TV, December 2014

Featured: Talava Arches and Caves

One of Talava natural arches, Niue
One of Talava natural arches / Pia Waugh, Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The coastline of Niue is adorned with unique geological landmarks – chasms – which closer to the sea turn into beautiful caves and finally open towards the sea. Possibly the most amazing formation of this kind is Talava Arches and Caves in the northern part of this small island country.

Recommended books

Niue: A History of the Island

This is the story of Niue, the world’s smallest self-governing nation,written by leading citizens of the country itself.The book outlines the origins and early history of a vigorous Polynesian people, and the changes which have come about as the result of contact with Christianity, commerce and colonial government. The authors then describe the move towards independence, the situation in Niue today and the prospects for the future.

Niue History and Culture: Who are Niue People, Their origin, Settlement, Governance, Politics, Environment, Travel and Tourism

History and Culture of Niue, has the information that serves the need for history, education travel and tourism, providing you with the information on Government on Niue, Origin of Niue people, settlement and pattern: For many Pacific Islanders, migration is a positive opportunity for individuals to obtain higher standards of living and material possessions not available in their homelands. Pacific states, like many small countries, have come to depend increasingly upon larger metropolitan states such as New Zealand.

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