Interesting Niue Facts!
Who doesn’t love a fun fact? If you’re heading to the island of Niue, then there’s plenty of interesting things you’ll learn through the island’s tours and while exploring the sea tracks. But before you get there, wise up with some non-essential yet interesting facts about Niue.
1. There’s More Niueans Living Outside of Niue than in Niue
Niue has a humble population of around 1,600 residents, while a whopping 22,200 Niueans live in New Zealand. Niueans have New Zealand citizenship making living and travelling overseas a breeze. This statistic also means that there are more people speaking Niue’s native language, Vagahau Niue or Niuean, overseas than in Niue, which leads to our second point…
2. Niuean is an Endangered Language
It’s estimated that only 7,000 people speak Niuean, therefore the Niuean language is classified as a “definitely endangered language” by UNESCO. You can find Niuean speakers in Niue, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Tonga. Learn more about the Niuean language in this guide.
3. Islanders in the North Speak Differently from Islanders in the South
Yes, despite Niue’s small size – just 260km2 (100sq mi), there are different dialects between people living in the north of the island compared to those living in the south! The northern dialect is called the “Motu” dialect, while the dialect spoken in the south is known as “Tafiti”. For instance, those from the north call guava “kautoga” while people from the south call it “lala”. Check out more Niuean words in the 10 Niuean Words to Know When Visiting Niue.
4. Niue Used to Have a Pokemon Currency
Although Niue is a country in free association with New Zealand and therefore shared the currency of the New Zealand Dollar, Niue has issued some of its own commemorative coins accepted as legal tender within Niue. In 2001, the Niue Government issued five Pokemon coins depicting Pokemon characters on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other. Niue has also had Star Wars themed coins.
5. The Island’s Prison is on the Golf Course
Want to play golf in Niue? Then you’ll be playing right by the island’s jail which is wedged between the golf course and the bowls club. Ok, so the golf course isn’t part of the prison and you’ll hardly be playing with the inmates. However, one of the locals did tell the NiuePocketGuide.com team that one of the inmates went on to become the island’s golfing champion after his years “doing time”. An urban legend, perhaps?
6. Niue is the World’s Largest Raised Coral Atoll
With a 260km2 (100sq mi) landmass and sitting on top of 30m (100ft) cliffs, Niue is the world’s largest uplifted coral atoll. It was formed by volcanic upheavals some 2-3 million years ago leaving a large island of limestone rock. That’s what makes Niue unique from the other South Pacific Islands and why it has the nickname “The Rock of the Pacific”.
7. There Used to Be an Elephant on the Island
Yes, in 2015 it was possible to see an elephant on the island when an Asian elephant called Anjalee was flown to Niue to be quarantined on the island before making her way to the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand.
8. Niue is One of the Last Countries in the World to See the Sunset Each Day
Due to Niue’s position on the International Date Line, Niue is one of the last countries in the world to see the end of the day. In fact, because New Zealand and Niue are on opposite sides of the International Date Line, the Tuesday morning flight from Auckland arrives in Niue on Monday afternoon despite being a three-hour flight!
9. Niue Has One of the Highest Rates of Politicians per Capita
Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. Every three years, Niue elects a 20-member legislative assembly. With this, Niue has had a record of the world’s highest per capita number of politicians, with one MP for every 65 people.
10. Niue Has No Traffic Lights
Simple, Niue has no traffic lights, which goes to show how relaxed the island is. In fact, it’s customary to wave to everyone you pass by while driving on the road. See more customs in Niue in 10 Dos and Don’ts in Niue.
Bonus: Niue Has a Diva Duck
We couldn’t end this list without including Trevor the duck. This mallard duck mysteriously turned up on the island in 2018, despite Niue having no lakes, rivers or even ponds. Apparently, the duck did manage to find a puddle, which the Niue National Fire Service had to fill for the duck when the puddle dried up.
More Niue Facts
That’s it for our interesting and fun facts about Niue! While you’re here, you might also like to check out The Guide to the Niuean Culture for Travellers for even more advice on the local customs and cultural experiences.