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Forests in Niue

Locals in Niue told me that after Cyclone Heta, the vegetation has grown twice denser than it was before, and it is true. A category 5 cyclone blowing at 300 km per hour has the capacity to put aloft a Jumbo plane fully loaded with passengers and cargo. Think about what it can do with plants and trees. I don't know why, but I can't stop thinking about what these winds did with birds and insects on the Island. Did they die in the middle of the Ocean, blown out like a peices of paper, or did they hang around and survive?. To answer this not scientific question we decided to explore the forests of Niue, and the results are...

The first thing you need to know is that there are no poisonous animals in the forest. So, the chances to step on a "Tiger Snake" like I almost did in Australia is none. The second tip is that the soil is basically coral and you need some walking boots or strong tennis shoes. You can wear sandals or thongs but I am afraid your toe will be your enemy for the rest of your life. Walking sticks are very helpful and they prevented us on many occasions from falling face first into the ground over sharp corals. The sticks also can serve as another important function which is to clean the thousands of spider webs on the trails. You don't need to be a sword master with your walking stick, but if you have this skill it will be a bonus. Before we started using walking sticks we had so many spider webs in our mouths that I could almost use it as dental floss. Anyway, If you don't want to spend money on walking sticks and have to carry them on you flight, there are plenty of dead sticks (from Heta) on the ground (just look around).

Huvalu forest is the biggest one in Niue, and it is beautiful. There is an spectacular tour with Mr. Misa Kulatea to the forest. He will show you how to make fire with sticks, how to become a friend of coconut crabs, how to built shelters and many others interesting forest related topics. Of course if you want you can do some tracks by yourself without a tour or a guide. There is a very good track starting from the road near Liku and ending at a point at the road Alofi-Liku. It passes just beside the "Tapu Area" which is an area prohibited to anyone to enter (it is the centre of Huvalu forest). On this track, you will do a semi circle, ending up in another road. It takes a long time (about 10 km round trip) and you will have to come back all the way to your car (to complete the circle). So, what we did was...we marked one hour in one direction and came back to the car by the same trail we went. Of course if you feel up for the whole trail, go for it, but don't forget to take plenty of water, a wood stick and some snacks with you. We saw a few birds, tons of chickens, thousands of spider webs, different plants and trees, and many types of mushrooms we had never seen before. Ah...There were plenty of butterflies too, which locals told me later are a plague in Niue because they eat the gardens.

Two other tracks are equally beautiful for forest lovers. The Vaikona Track and The track to Talava Arches (photo). Both have plenty of corals on the ground to be trespassed and you need to be a little bit fit and have good mobility with your knees, but they are not difficult at all. The forest around these tracks are completely different being Vaikona as dense as Huvalu and Talava more open due the saline environment around (also cyclone Heta destroyed the most of Talava bigger trees). We had great time exploring the forests of Vanuatu, but we enjoyed much more the forests in Niue. The reason is that we did it alone on our own pace, without having to ask permission to the land owners as it happens in Vanuatu. Seating down for a long time in silence just listening to the forest is a great feeling. Just don't get too distracted because the night arrives much earlier than on the coast. If you get lost, you really are lost with nobody around to ask directions except a chicken or a coconut crab.

The soil is made out of organic matter in decomposition. Beautiful wild mushrooms of different colours and shapes.
A pair of walking sticks are very helpful to walk over corals. Some tracks such as this one to Vaikona have direction arrows (see the small tree at the left of the photo) pointing to the place where you probably will get lost.

 

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