These guys roam up and down the coast here. This picture was taken from our cockpit while at the town mooring. They have to expend a chunk of energy to get this far out of the water.
And they come down with a big splash. The humpbacks are here generally from July to October (the winter here) to calve and breed, then they head back down to the Antarctic for some summer fun and feeding.
You are supposed to be able to recognize each whale by its tale fin, but I can’t see any name tag on this one.
We rented mountain bikes to do a little island touring. This photo is taken before it turned into a death march of a ride. Nice, flat somewhat bumpy roads surround the island. So we pedaled to the north end of the island and then across most of the top. This was to take us to a dirt track that would cut through the interior and take us back toward the main city, Alofi. As soon as we got on the dirt road they assigned us each a small squadron of flies. Enough to be really annoying while riding. But nothing like the treatment we got if we tried to stop and rest or grab a drink of water. You would be entirely engulfed in a fly feeding frenzy – not fun.
It was a pretty overcast day, making for good riding, but no blue skies for the photos. This is the Matapa Chasm, one of several around the island, where fresh water has cut through the limestone leading out to the reef. This was once the bathing place used by Niuean royalty.
One thing that stands out when you travel around Niue is the number of abandoned houses. In this photo the one on the left is in use, the three on the right are abandoned. After the 2004 cyclone many found it easier to move to New Zealand than to rebuild. This just accelerated the general population decline. Niueans have both Niue and New Zealand citizenship and more live in NZ than in Niue.
Another thing that stands out are the number of graves and their placement. There doesn’t seem to be a graveyard per se. Graves are in the yards of homes, along the roads and in some fairly remote parts. They range from of old, hard to read headstones, to modern etched marble. This one was a little different as the dearly departed had direct access to a TV, stereo and a couple of bottles of liquor.
A correction from an earlier blog: The cruiser rumor mill failed me. Niue is not past the dateline. That doesn’t happen till Tonga. We will head off to Tonga in 4 or 5 days. Right now we are sitting out some bad weather. The mooring field, the only place you can anchor here, has a two foot swell coming in, which hits the boats on the beam and sends us rolling – making for some pretty uncomfortable nights (and days). We’re hoping this front, likely related to the strong El Nino this year, will pass soon and we’ll get back to sunshine and trade winds!