A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com
A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them

(c) niuepocketguide.com

The Flora and Fauna of Niue

On land and beneath the ocean’s surface, Niue provides a haven for wildlife where locals have established sustainable fishing and hunting practices on an island that’s also free from disease. Niue is a tropical island, whose flora and fauna reflect that with an island awash with coconut palms and fruit trees in between tracts of ancient rainforest. Admittedly, the island is not home to many endemic species, with much of what you can find in Niue found elsewhere in the South Pacific. Nevertheless, Niue does have a few iconic species, seen frequently on visits to the island.

In this guide to the flora and fauna of Niue, we’ll show you not only the wildlife in Niue that you’re likely to see but some of the best ways to see them.

What Endemic Species Are in Niue?

Niue has very few endemic species, with most species being either native – shared with other South Pacific countries – or introduced. One endemic species Niue can call its own, however, is the endemic sea snake, flat-tail sea snake or locally known as katuali.

For more about animals native to Niue, check out the 10 Animals & Birds Native to Niue.

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them© NiuePocketGuide.com

Marine Species in Niue

Being an island nation in the midst of the vast Pacific Ocean, it’s no surprise that most of Niue’s wildlife can be found in its surrounding waters. There are a recorded 189 species of coral in Niue’s waters which provide important habitat for Niue’s marine life.

What Kinds of Fish are in Niue?

There are said to be around 250 species of fish in Niue’s waters, categorised as either reef fish or bluewater fish. Some of Niue’s coastal reef species include honeycomb groupers, peacock hind, tomato hind, dark fin hind, red bass, Achilles tang, white-spotted surgeonfish, yellow-edged lyretail, many-bar goatfish, yellow-stripe goatfish, small-toothed jobfish, stocky hawkfish, steephead parrotfish, brassy chub, sabre squirrelfish, blackfin barracuda, blackjack and the list goes on and on.

As for bluewater fish or deep-bottom fish, species include mahimahi, Indo-Pacific sailfish, limpid-wing flyingfish, rainbow runner, bigeye scad, mackerel scad, skipjack tuna, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, albacore, brilliant pomfret, striped marlin, comet grouper, white-edge lyretail, almaco jack, oblique-banded snapper, goldflag jobfish, green jobfish, ruby snapper, flame snapper and just about anything you might like to reel in on a fishing charter. Find out more in our guide, Fishing in Niue: The Types of Fish in Niue.

A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue(c) David Girsh - Niue Tourism

Humpback Whales and Dolphins in Niue

The warm waters of Niue are the migration destination of humpback whales coming from Antarctica between July and September. Humpback whales are commonly spotted from shore during this time, while whale tours provide the opportunity for in-water interactions. Find out more about whale encounters in The Guide to Whale Watching & Swimming in Niue.

Niue also has large pods of resident spinner dolphins in its surrounding waters, where there’s frequent opportunity to watch them from shore or on boat tours. Learn more about how to encounter dolphins in The Guide to Dolphin Watching & Swimming in Niue.

Are There Sharks in Niue?

Yes, there are reef sharks that reside on the edge of Niue’s surrounding reef, as well as far off-shore at locations such as Beveridge Reef. Shark species found in Niue include blacktip reef sharks and grey reef sharks.

The best way to see sharks in Niue is to join snorkelling and scuba diving trips with operators listed in The Best Dive Shops & Operators in Niue.

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them© NiuePocketGuide.com

Are There Turtles in Niue?

Turtles are also occasionally sighted along Niue’s outer reefs, making them an exciting sighting on snorkelling tours. Common species include loggerhead, hawksbill and green sea turtles. Learn more about snorkelling tours in The Best Guided Snorkelling Tours in Niue.

Corals and Anemones in Niue

As the world’s largest raised coral atoll, needless to say, Niue is prime habitat for coral with around 189 species. Despite threats to local coral habitats like coral bleaching caused by sea temperatures rising, as well as tsunami damage, the established and regenerating coral is magnificent to see through Niue’s crystal-clear waters. Coral comes in the form of table coral, resilient staghorn coral, brain corals, soft coral colonies, gorgonian sea fans, anemones, mushroom coral and more.

Needless to say, you should never touch corals, not only because they are easily damaged and it takes a long time for coral to grow, but because coral cuts can give nasty infections – see our Niue Safety Tips.

A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue© NiuePocketGuide.com

Giant Clams, Crabs and More

Our final aspect of marine wildlife in Niue is hard-shell and soft-shell marine animals, starting with the famed coconut crab locally known as uga. Uga are the world’s largest terrestrial arthropods that live in Niue’s caves and feed on coconuts. There are many opportunities to see uga, which we outline in 6 Ways to See Uga in Niue.

Niue also has a wide range of land crabs, including geograpsus grayi, geograpsus crinipes and discoplax longipes. Like many Pacific Islands, hermit crabs are also common in Niue. Crabs are often seen in the forests of Niue and on many bush walks listed in The Guide to Walks in Niue + 35 Walks to Try!

A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue© NiuePocketGuide.com

Another hard-shell marine animal in Niue is the giant clam. The main giant clam species in Niue is the small giant clam thought to be native to the island, tridacna maxima. There are also true giant clams (tridacna gigas) around Niue but finding large ones is exceptionally rare.

You may see giant clams while snorkelling in Niue, with some suggestions listed in The Complete Guide to Snorkelling in Niue.

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them© NiuePocketGuide.com

Birds of Niue

There are thought to be between 29 to 31 bird species found in Niue. While there are no endemic bird species to Niue, there are endemic subspecies such as the Polynesian triller (heahea) and the Polynesian starling (miti). Many of the birds found in Niue are found across the South Pacific Islands.

Bird Species in Niue

Some of the bird species found in Niue include white-tailed tropicbird, pacific reef heron, Polynesian triller, Polynesian starling, white tern, crimson-crowned fruit dove, buff-banded rail, Pacific imperial pigeon, blue-crowned lorikeet, kelp gull, lesser frigate and more! Learn more about Niue’s most iconic bird species in the 10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue.

Famously, Niue did have one mallard duck that mysteriously appeared on the island, which you can read the story about in the 10 Fun Facts About Niue.

Finally, a species of bird that is part of many visitors’ experience in Niue is the red junglefowl, i.e. the many chickens and roosters that roam the island. The bird is an ancestor of the domestic chicken but is not typically used for eating in Niue – only if prepared in an umu (underground oven). Learn more about where to experience umu nights in the 20 Best Restaurants in Niue.

A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

Reptiles in Niue

Niue has a small number of reptiles, including skinks, geckos and sea snakes. Some of the most iconic reptile species in Niue include the flat-tailed sea snake (katuali) which is commonly seen in Niue’s waters, while the mourning gecko, snake-eyed skink and Pacific slender-toed gecko are also present and interesting to read up on in our 10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue.

Reptile Species in Niue

Some of the reptile species found in Niue include the mourning gecko, flat-tailed sea snake, snake-eyed skink, Pacific slender-toed gecko, moth skink, copper-tailed skink, azure-tailed skink, Pacific dtella (Oceania gecko), pelagic gecko and more.

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them© NiuePocketGuide.com

Are There Snakes in Niue?

Yes, there is an endemic species of sea snake in Niue, locally known as the katuali. Although highly venomous, katuali are not known to attack humans. Plus, it is thought that their bite is not strong enough to penetrate human skin. In our experience, katuali are quite curious and friendly! There are also sea kraits in Niue which look very similar to katuali.

See both species primarily on snorkelling tours, as listed in The Best Guided Snorkelling Tours in Niue.

A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

Land Animals and Mammals in Niue

Niue is home to only one native mammal species, the flying fox, also known as the Pacific flying fox or peka. These large bats are nocturnal and gather together in colonies high in the rainforest canopy. They mostly eat fruit, nectar and pollen making them important forest pollinators.

Domestic Mammals in Niue

It’s worth taking a moment here to mention that there are a lot of domestic animals, like dogs and cats, that wander freely in Niue. You’re highly likely to encounter all of these animals while visiting the island, whether it’s dogs greeting you on the road or cats roaming around accommodation complexes.

Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them© NiuePocketGuide.com

Plants and Vegetation in Niue

Niue harbours a wealth of tropical vegetation, including bougainvillaea, frangipani, hibiscus and orchids, as well as a variety of ferns growing amongst wild rhododendrons.

Flowers in Niue

Typical flora that is important to the Niuean culture, as well as being distinctively decorative, include fou (hibiscus tiliaceus), pua (fagraea berteroana), toi (alphitonia zizyphoides) and (cordyline fruticosa).

Trees in Niue

Common trees found in Niue, include buttress trees, banyan trees (ovava), ebony (kieto) and, of course, coconut palms. One of the best places to learn about Niue’s native tree species is in the Huvalu Forest on the Ebony Rainforest Tour. Check out the 6 Best Guided Tours in Niue to find out more.

Fruit and Vegetables in Niue

Many introduced tropical crops are present in Niue, such as cassava, taro, vanilla, avocado, mango, lime, kumara, banana, pawpaw, passionfruit, watermelon and much more. Take a look at the 10 Exotic Fruits in Niue You Have to Try!

There are some fantastic garden and plantation tours to learn more about the vegetation in Niue. Check out the 8 Best Nature Tours in Niue to learn more.

More About Wildlife in Niue

That’s it for our ultimate guide to wildlife in Niue. If, for some ungodly reason, you need more information about wildlife in Niuein your life, then check out these other articles:

Finally, head to the 101 Things to Do in Niue: The Ultimate List featuring more amazing experiences.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Niue Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. He is also consulting regularly with Niue Tourism to ensure content accuracy. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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