Exploring Niue
This is the place that time forgot. Apparently the population was over twenty thousand and then the airport was built and direct flights to New Zealand provided. This made for a mass exodus of the island. Now the population is about 1300. There are a recorded 20,000 Niue transplants in New Zealand. You will see more empty houses than full ones and remnants of a more productive times include several large commercial buildings, factories and fish processing plants—all empty.
We rented a motorbike, 125cc Suzuki, and headed around the south side of the island following the circumference road. The two lane road became dirt then one lane as we passed the southern corner of the island. The lush vegetation surrounded the road and increased as we hit the windward side where it provided a full canopy over the road.
We found the cavern trail and hiked the one klick to the rocky caverns. After a decent down a long ladder we landed in white sand that covered the cavern floor. The cliffs on either side were higher than the few palm trees that grow on the floor. This was a truly amazing sight. After ascending the ladder we walked to the cliffs over the ocean and looked down at the breakers crashing in the caves below.
Back on the bikes we kept going, we passed through several nearly deserted villages. The Niue residents take their grave sites seriously, we did not go a klick without seeing an elaborate tombstone, always with fresh flowers and well kept. There seemed to be family plots some even with roofs. There are more graves than living residents.
It is strange to see such a beautiful place suffer such devastating population drop. I feel for the few left behind who try to make a viable living here—alone in paradise has its drawbacks.