The Strange Hidden Island of Nieu


The island of Niue has everything you could ever need: friendly locals, beautiful scenery and coins with pictures of Pokemon on.


As a bitter Westerner who storms through London with my iPod forced into my ears and staring at the pavement with a cold look in my eyes, to discover a strange little country called Nieu was quite a surprise. You probably haven’t heard of it, and if you have, you’ll probably want to go.

Nieu, which translates to “Look! There’s a coconut” (good start), is a pin-prick of an island, or atoll, if we want to get specific, slapped 2500 kilometers near New Zealand with a population of just under 1500 people. Currently, there’s one plane a week to travel to the island, and the queues can stack up pretty high in the airport for people desperate to get a seat. If you’re lucky, the initial view of Niue is described to look like a mountainous Swiss cheese. I already want to live there.

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The people are reputed to be some of the friendliest in the world, and a trip to this miniscule country will guarantee an invite to one of the local’s houses. Furthermore, with a government of only twenty, a visit from one of the officials is understood to be a normality. In fact, you’re regarded as rude if you don’t accept the invite for a beer on the beach.

Activities include snorkelling and hiking through the hills or to some of the entirely undiscovered caves which litter the island. Having said that, why bother walking up a mountain alone when the locals seem totally cool playing sports and giving free tours? Crime is basically at an absolute zero, which is probably because they’re so busy inviting people for tea or surfing the WiFi which is provided free of charge throughout the entire country!

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There are no taxes on cigarettes which is good news for any fellow smokers like myself, but drinking alcohol is both expensive and public drunkenness is entirely unheard of. Hopefully the latter will change by the time I visit. All in all, despite it being probably the most difficult and expensive place in the world for an Englishman to visit, the little island of Nieu does seem to offer an experience unlike anywhere else in the world.

Oh, and they also released a limited edition set of Pokemon coins into the economy; need I say more about that?

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