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Date: 17 Aug 2012 21:18:56
Title: Bike tour of Niue

Lat 19:03.36S
Lon 169:55.48W

On Monday we hired some mountain bikes to get a bit further round the island. There are also some mountain bike trails through the middle of the island that we wanted to explore. It ended up being a marathon ride over 60km! We visited Palaha cave on the west coast first, which was enormous and full of stalactites/mites and huge columns, with a huge opening out to sea granting a beautiful view of the reef. Again, there was hardly anyone else there and you are free to roam around the cave and explore - if this was in Europe they'd be charging an entrance fee and cordoning it off 'for your own safety' and probably forcing some kind of terrible audio guide upon us. Niue is awesome as it is so undiscovered and tourism is only just starting to kick off so there are no silly rules and you are free to explore on your own. It would be possible to visit here and spend very little as there is no charge for any of the sites. I guess getting here is the problem for most people!

Palaha Cave

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After Palaha we took off on one of the trails across the island, took a right, a left, another right, and inevitably got completely lost! Not that it mattered though. There are no fences across people's land and we just rode with the sun behind us until an old woman stumbled upon us and directed us back the right way. On the east coast we took a path through a forest and then continued around the coastal road to the south. We stopped at another chasm (Anapala) which is an incredibly narrow gap in the rock, which you descend into via 150 steep steps. At the bottom it is only about 3 metres wide and you are about 40 metres down into the earth. There is a little pool of water and you can swim through a dark passage to the end. Archie braved it but my imagination was too consumed with all the ghouls I thought I could see in the strange rock formations along the wall of the chasm!

Into the dark depths of Anapala chasm

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Moving south we stopped at the only posh hotel on the island - Matavai resort, for a drink on our way back. It's a very nice resort with a swimming pool built into the rock and a bar right on the cliff edge where you can hear the waves pounding into the rock beneath you. We booked a table for our last night on Thursday as a big treat. We also stopped in at the dive shop and arranged some diving for Thursday which should be amazing - more caves!

View down the coast from the Matavai resort

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There are loads of deserted houses all around the island - a sign of the times as people choose to move to NZ for work. (All Niuean's get NZ citizenship automatically) It's very strange to cycle through villages that are almost abandoned. In a village on the south coast though, we got accosted by a group of little girls who barred the way across the road and demand that we stop, tell them our names, where we were from and take some pictures of them which they took great delight in posing for.

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