Astra Blog: Niue 20.09.08 - 23.09.08

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Wed 8 Oct 2008 03:48

Astra Blog: Niue 20.09.08 – 23.09.08


We awoke to discover that Zulu had very sensibly waited until first light to arrive and had even caught a fish!  George was sent to give Phil a quick lesson on filleting while Jeremy and Ash pondered the unusual dinghy dock.  The only way to get ashore is to rig your tender with lifting strops and crane it up onto a large dock about 4 metres high.  They spent about half an hour trying to get the balance just right before everybody headed ashore to check in.  Unfortunately we had about a tonne of rubbish in the tender which we hadn’t counted on and during the lift it came up at rather a precarious angle.  Fortunately no garbage fell in the sea and the tender arrived safely. 


Keith from the Niue Yacht Club (NYC) was there to meet us and all members of Astra and Zulu were ferried up the only hill on the island to the village fete.  It was a decent sized gathering with lots of dancing, singing, stalls and even a bouncy castle.  However, at talk of a locals v sailors tug’o’war we decided to beat a retreat.  The locals look like most of them could comfortably play for the All Blacks with arms the size of our legs!  Everyone started off down the hill apart from Ash and George who had no intention of trekking in the searing sunshine.  Instead they went to inform Keith that they were off to the NYC for a spot of lunch.  On hearing this Keith very kindly handed over his car keys to Ash and before long all were enjoying a delicious lunch in the pleasant little club.


Keith then took us for a whistle-stop tour of the west coast of Niue to show us the various hang-outs, services and the damage from the storm; buildings 35metres above sea level were ripped from their foundations.  After the tour he dropped us at the rather dubious car rental shop where Astra and Zulu hired two of the better bangers on offer and set off to explore the south half of the island.  What followed was a three hour rally drive along dirt tracks and ravines which almost saw both cars completely destroyed.  It was an exciting way to spend the afternoon and we finished up at the Niue Prison mistaking it for the Golf Club.  A three point turn was quickly executed and we beat a hasty retreat!

That evening, the boys off Astra and Zulu headed ashore in the ‘bubble boat’ (T/T Zulu) for a party at the Niue Rugby Club.  An excellent evening was had by all and they met some of the largest, friendliest people on the planet.


On returning to Astra, we could hear strange noises on the outskirts of the anchorage.  Further examination showed that there were in fact several large humpacks passing through.  Ash and Sally stayed on deck for about an hour at 0230 watching in awe as the humpback whales breached several times just 40 feet from Astra.  On going below we could hear their melody echoing through the hull.


On Sunday afternoons there is only one place to go on Niue: Washaway Café.  This is a self service bar with a very friendly, laid back owner.  It also serves delicious burgers, which the cruisers made quick work of.  The owner promises to keep the bar open until the last person leaves, this might sound a bit dangerous with a bunch of sailors around but when everybody started at midday when it opened it was a fairly safe bet and even Astra and Zulu were done by 2230!  George was exceptionally done; half way through declaring that it was his new favourite bar he fell in the sea!


Keen to do some exploring on the final day in Niue, Sally, Ash and George hopped in the rental car and headed for the Tavala Arches.  It was a 30 minute walk over the sharpest coral one could imagine to reach the arches.  Once there, one enters a cave system full of arches and chasms with red and green stalactites and stalagmites in fantastic flowing formations.  In places the base that we were walking on was perilously thin and slippery.  Having survived the ordeal, we made the much shorter jaunt down to another one of Niue’s highlights: Matapa Chasm.  This is a wide, sunken chasm that was once the bathing place of Niuean royalty; certainly recommendation enough for a quick dip!


For our last night in Niue we made our way up to the NYC for the renowned sausage sizzle.  A fantastic BBQ with plenty of liquid refreshment was provided for all the visiting yacht crews.


Zulu decided that they would get a head start on us in the morning and quietly slipped their mooring at 0800 to head for Vava’u, Tonga.  We meanwhile had to return the car, do some provisioning, George and Ash became proud members of the NYC and we also finally got round to picking up a Niue driving licenses!