Monday, August 10, 2015

A Little More Niue Whalage

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.
niueIMG_1873 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.
niueIMG_1923 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.
niueIMG_1919  While still on the coast road we did get to stop a some cool limestone caverns right on the water.
niueIMG_1927 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.
niueIMG_1924 For the golfing crowd, here is the Niue driving range. The sign says “REEF DRIVING RANGE, 5 balls $10, hit the flag win a prize”
niueIMG_1945 It looks like the shore is all surrounded by narrow reef, but it is more a shallow limestone shelf that drops off sharply and which is covered with hard corals.
niueIMG_1948 These locals were collecting turban snails off the reef at low tide, hammering them open and saving the meat for soup.
niueIMG_1941 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.
niueIMG_1934 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!

1 comment:

  1. Do you have proof you took that photo of the humpback whale? From your cockpit? While on a town mooring? Incredible pictures. Well done.