The Complete Guide to Health and Safety in Niue for Travellers
Let’s be honest, safety will not a major concern when travelling in Niue. The country is pretty much as safe as it gets with almost non-existent crime, very few viruses, and no deadly animals. In this guide on how to stay safe in Niue, we outline the health and safety issues to be aware of in Niue and how you can reduce the risks.
10 Quick Health Tips for Niue
Before we go into our in-depth health and safety tips for Niue, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind while travelling:
- If you are feeling ill, be proactive and see a doctor in Niue. They are more likely to know the local illnesses than your doctor back home
- Go heavy on the sun protection
- Be serious about avoiding mosquito bites
- Make sure your travel vaccinations are up-to-date. See a doctor 4-6 weeks before travel at the latest
- Know what water is safe to drink
- Focus on hand hygiene, especially before eating with your hands
- Pack a first aid kit specifically for Niue
- If you get cut, act quickly to clean the wound, disinfect and place an adequate band-aid
- If you have pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, see your doctor a few weeks before your trip and ask them to make a note of your medication and condition
- Know the emergency number in Niue: 999.
Now, let’s get onto our health and safety advice for Niue.
Health Tips for Niue
There are not many ways to get hurt or sick in Niue. There are no dangerous animals and despite the fact that there are only 1,500 inhabitants, the country has a hospital. However, like travelling anywhere in the world, it’s smart to have your travel vaccinations up-to-date and to prepare a first aid kit for injuries or minor health issues that might occur. See our advice in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Niue and Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Niue?
Note that some serious injuries have to be airlifted to New Zealand.
Medical Issues That Can Occur in Niue
The most common medical issues that can occur in Niue are sunburn, heatstroke, mosquito bites and coral cuts. These are very easy to keep in check with simple precautions. Other medical issues may occur when it comes to drinking water and food, which we cover in our “Food and Water Hygiene” section.
Overexposure to the sun and high humidity can lead to heatstroke. Symptoms include exhaustion, confusion, headache and vomiting. To avoid this, wear high-factor sunscreen, reapply every three hours or straight after swimming, and drink plenty of water. If symptoms occur, move out of the sun immediately and try to cool the victim down by wrapping a wet towel around them. See a doctor as soon as possible. For more sun protection tips, check out The Best Sunscreens for Niue + Sun Protection Tips.
Although mosquitoes rarely carry infectious diseases in Niue, that’s not to say that dengue fever outbreaks can’t occur. Regardless, mosquito bites can leave you with annoying itchy bites. Either way, we’ve got you covered with 10 Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Niue so you are well prepared to fend against thugs of all sorts.
Coral and Rock Cuts
The coral and rocks are sharp around Niue so watch your footing while exploring the coastline. We suggest wearing closed walking shoes for exploring on land and reef shoes for accessing the water. In addition, if you have dive gloves, these can be useful to hold onto rocks when snorkelling.
What’s more, cuts from live coral can leave prolonged infections, so if you are injured by live coral, get out of the water immediately and cleanse the wound. Take out all of the bits of coral, apply antiseptic cream, and cover with a dressing. You should have all this stuff in your Niue First Aid Kit!
Scuba diving is a popular activity in Niue, but neglecting the strict depth and timing precautions of scuba diving can result in decompression illness, otherwise known as “the bends”. Note that there are no decompression chambers in Niue.
Ciguatera is fish poisoning caused by eating reef fish that have eaten particular types of toxic algae. Symptoms occur within 24 hours of eating contaminated reef fish and include vomiting, diarrhoea and numbness in the fingers. The best way to prevent it is to avoid eating reef fish altogether; eating deep-sea fish, like tuna, wahoo and mahimahi, is fine.
The only major risk of an infectious disease in Niue is traveller’s diarrhoea, but to be fair, this is something that you can catch almost anywhere you visit. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk.
E.Coli (Traveller’s Diarrhoea)
You can catch traveller’s diarrhoea from consuming contaminated food or water. It can be food that has been washed with contaminated water, cooked with contaminated water or simply a sip of water from a contaminated source. We’ve got a full guide on Is the Water Safe to Drink in Niue? complete with precautions to take.
If you end up catching traveller’s diarrhoea, you will experience symptoms such as fever, drowsiness and diarrhoea. In that case, drink plenty of fluids. Alternate water and electrolytes to keep your body up and running. A good alternative, if you do not have access to electrolytes, is a can of Coke (yes, really) or salty broth. In most cases, it is simply a waiting game, as there are no antibiotics for this disease.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease that has had the odd outbreak in Niue in the past. It is only the day-biting mosquitos (black and white striped) that cause the infection, so take a precaution by preventing mosquito bites. See the 10 Ways to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Niue for tips.
The COVID-19 virus has been present in Niue. Symptoms are flu-like including fever, cough, tiredness and loss of taste or smell. It is recommended that you are fully vaccinated before travelling to Niue. See Do You Need Vaccines to Travel to Niue? for more details.
Natural Disasters in Niue
Although Niue is usually blessed with buckets of sunshine, its location in the South Pacific means that it is at risk of extreme weather events and natural disasters.
The South Pacific cyclone season runs from November to April. On average, Niue experiences a big cyclone once every 10 or so years, but this may become more frequent with climate change. Niue is well prepared for cyclones, however, so check out Cyclones in Niue: A Guide to Cyclone Safety for advice on safety precautions.
Being just east of a major earthquake zone, Niue is not only prone to earthquake-caused tsunamis but tsunamis caused by cyclones. Anyone visiting Niue should know how to identify the signs of a tsunami and know what to do in the case of one before visiting; The Guide to Earthquakes & Tsunamis in Niue will give you some pointers.
Dangerous Animals in Niue
Niue doesn’t have any major concerns when it comes to dangerous animals. But there are venomous fish, as well as other animals that you’re best to avoid. These include:
- Dogs – While most are friendly, there are some that will chase cars and bicycles. If this happens when cycling, the best thing you can do is stop and shoo the dog away
- Aedes aegypti – The day-biting mosquito that can transmit dengue fever
- Crown-of-thorns starfish – Has venomous spikes
- Stonefish – Rare but camouflage fish that have venomous spines
- Lionfish – Fish that leaves a painful sting.
What About the Katuali, Niue’s Sea Snakes?
One of the most noticeable creatures when snorkelling in Niue, especially with guided snorkelling tours, is the endemic sea snake, katuali. You may have heard that they have incredibly toxic venom; roughly 10x that of a cobra! However, there’s no need to panic when these curious creatures come to check you out while you snorkel, they are not known to bite humans and, even if they did, it is said that their bite is too soft to break the skin.
For more information about the sort of animals you’ll see in Samoa, check out Wildlife in Niue: Animals in Niue & Where to See Them.
Food and Water Hygiene
Food and water in Niue are generally safe and readily available, but you shouldn’t drink from any old tap. Basic travel-health rules are worth keeping in mind. We go over a few food and water hygiene tips for Niue here.
Know What Water is Safe to Drink
Tap water is not always safe to drink in Niue, even if locals are drinking it. Accommodations normally let guests know where to get safe drinking water at their facility. Many have their own filtration system installed but always be sure to ask where to get safe drinking water (as it’s not always from your bathroom’s tap). Otherwise, bottled water is readily available to buy.
To avoid water-borne diseases, such as traveller’s diarrhoea, and reduce the negative impact bottled water has on the environment, take precautions like boiling water for about 10 minutes before drinking it. Water purifying tablets and Lifestraw Bottles are also effective, but boiling water is the safest option.
See Is the Water Safe to Drink in Niue? for much more of a deep dive into the subject.
Be Aware of Food Safety
Eating at restaurants is usually very safe in Niue. But if you’re eating street food, like from the market or a pop-up vendor, then there are a few things to be aware of. For instance, avoid eating salads or uncooked food that might have been washed with contaminated water. Eating cooked food is usually the safest option, as is avoiding meat if you want to be extra mindful.
To avoid gastro bugs, use hand disinfectant and only eat cooked food. If you get diarrhoea, drink water regularly and alternate between electrolytes and water. If other symptoms occur, see a doctor.
Finally, avoid salmonella by not eating runny eggs or undercooked meat. If you have blood in your stool, see a doctor immediately.
Travellers with gluten intolerance can get advice from The Gluten-Free Guide to Niue.
Hospitals, Medical Centres and Pharmacies in Niue
If you have health issues or serious injuries while in Niue, then there is a hospital which also acts as a medical centre/GP. However, there are no pharmacies in Niue. Basic over-the-counter medical supplies can be bought at supermarkets and some convenience stores.
Niue Foou Hospital
Niue Foou Hospital is located on Halamahaga Road, which is a 5-minute drive from Alofi town centre. There is also an access road signposted opposite the runway.
Clinic hours: Monday – Thursday, 8 am – 4 pm, Friday – Sunday and public holidays, 9 am – 10 am and 7 pm – 8 pm.
Hospital phone number: 4100
Emergency phone number: 999
For more essential services around the islands, take a look at the Information, Shops & Services in Niue.
Crime and Personal Safety
As mentioned previously, Niue is generally safe when it comes to crime. In fact, Niue may be one of the only places in the world where humans seem not to have brought crime. There is only one prison on the island, right by the golf course – how relaxed!
Petty Theft in Niue
We’ve looked into petty theft and have not found many reports of tourists suffering from such offences. Nevertheless, exercise basic commonsense like not blatantly leaving your bag full of expensive valuables unattended in public places.
Data Theft in Niue
Due to the poor internet access on the island, you are unlikely to be hacked or to suffer credit card fraud. In fact, the credit card system is often out of service on the island for hours at a time. On the same note, we advise you to bring enough cash with you to last you the trip, for reasons detailed in What is the Best Way to Pay in Niue?
Niueans are deeply religious and, as such, are extremely respectful. They will feel offended by excessive public displays of affection and open homosexuality. Although we advise behaving conservatively, any display will not result in attacks. Homosexuality is not illegal in Niue.
Niue Police Contact Details
Niue Police Emergency Number: 999
Niue Police Station: 4333
Station location: Tapeu-Porritt Road opposite the Swansons Complex.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday, 8 am – 4 pm.
Water Safety in Niue
Water activities are a highlight of Niue, but the island is not well protected from the ocean so precautions should be taken when out swimming.
Not all coasts and conditions are good for swimming in Niue, so you should always seek advice before heading out. Tide plays a big part in where it is safe to swim, which you can learn more about in What You Need to Know About the Tide Times in Niue.
In addition, large swells can make some places where it is usually safe to swim and walk on the reefs less so. Look out for rough sea warnings issued by the Niue Met Service and National Disaster Management Office via radio or their Facebook Pages; these are usually days to avoid swimming.
Finally, never swim alone and always seek local advice on conditions.
Road Safety in Niue
The final danger or potential hazard in Niue is the roads. Although speed limits are low and there are efficient road rules in place, accidents do happen. Some safety tips for driving on the roads in Niue include:
- Watch out for dogs and chickens on the road
- Don’t park under coconut trees
- Mind the potholes, especially in bright sunlight and after heavy rain
- Take it easy and stick to the speed limits
- Wear a helmet if driving a motorbike or cycling
- Don’t attempt to drive down dirt roads after heavy rain
- Wear a seatbelt (even if the locals don’t)
- Be aware of other drivers (assume they don’t know the rules).
We have elaboration on these safety tips in the 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Niue, as well as road rules to follow in How to Drive in Niue + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know.
Medical and Travel Insurance for Niue
If your current insurance includes trips abroad, give them a bell to let them know when and where you are going and you should be good to go. Otherwise, you may want to consider purchasing medical and travel insurance for the length of your trip to Niue.
Your medical insurance should include evacuation, as Niue’s hospital has to refer serious injuries and illnesses to New Zealand. Consider getting cover for sports such as snorkelling, scuba diving and mountain biking, if you are planning to do any of those when in Niue. For your travel insurance, look for inclusions such as trip cancellation, illnesses and injuries, as well as lost luggage.
More About Health and Safety in Niue
That’s it for our complete guide to health and safety in Niue. For more Niue safety tips, check out the following guides:
- 10 Health & Safety Tips for Travelling Niue with Kids
- Accessibility in Niue: Travellers with Disabilities, Wheelchair Access & More
- 30 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Niue
Finally, get all the travel tips you need for Niue from The Best Niue Travel Guide: Plan a Trip the EASY Way and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Niue.