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Mutalau sea track and Reef Flats

 Mutalau district and Uluvehi Reef are located at the extreme North of Niue. It is considered a historic place where in 1846 Peniamina Nukai came back to Niue from Samoa to introduce Christianity among Niueans. From Mutalau, Perniamina propagated the religion village to village until reaching the South. It ended years of disputes and internal wars between Niueans of different villages. Mutalau was also an important point of departure and arrival to overseas Island such as Samoa and the Cook islands. From there many produces passed to be sold in these Islands and most of the plants and fruits you see on the Island today came to Niue from this port. (It is not a port at all, just a reef flat with very dangerous waves breaking on it).

The access is very easy because you can drive your car almost to the end of the reef flat. From the main road that circles the Island, there is a sign pointing to the village. After you enter the village, just keep left and follow the gravel road. Near it's end you'll be surrounded by coconut palms (photo). At the very end, a wide concrete road leads the way to the reef flat. Park your car under the large tree (for shade) just before the concrete road starts. From there, all you have to do is walk in very easy inclination to the point where they keep the outrigger canoes. From the car park to this point it is not more than a  6 minutes walk. You'll arrive at a place where concrete stairs gives access to the reef flats (larger photo on the top of this page).

From ancient times the inhabitants of Mutalau keep their outrigger canoes inside small natural caves in the cliffs face. There are about 3 of these caves, some empty and one with four or five canoes. The caves are high enough to keep the canoes safe in case of huge swells. To enter the sea, seamen must carry the canoes stairs down for about 30 metres until they reach the reef flat. The sea and winds are much stronger in this side of the Island and fishing can only be done in very calm conditions. Due to the breeze that blows constantly, the trees grow up with their foliage bended to the predominant side of the wind.

Another thing that grabed our attention in Mutalau was the degree of difficulty they must face to launch their canoes into the sea. When we were there, even being an experienced surfer, I saw no way to pass the waves breaking over the reef without things ending in disaster. The waves that day were much bigger than at any other side of the island, and as I found out later, the sea there is like that most times of the year. Note that they have to enter the sea by passing waves breaking on a very shallow reef platform and paddle as much as possible to evict to be "caught inside" by the next wave. If that happens, I can imagine a situation of life or death, where the canoe will be thrown over the reef for the suction of the next wave suck it into the belly of the next wave. Pretty Heavy stuff, I think.

Well, there is not much else to talk about Mutalau, and there is not another attraction in the area except Ulupehi itself, anyway, the place is very beautiful and very pleasant to be in. The views are gorgeous and the winds were very refreshing. If you're doing a round the Island tour, Mutalau is a nice place to stop by and have a picnic. We made sandwiches and took juice and cups to all activities we did in Niue. Remember, there are no places to buy anything when you cruising around the Island except in Alofi and one or two other places.

The sign on the round the Island road, indicates the entrance to the track. The parking area is a nice place for a picnic. The constant winds bends the trees forever
In front of the parking area, a wide path leads to the reef flats and boat caves. One of the Caves in the huge cliff is used as safe storage for outrigger canoes. 

Stairs leads to the reef flat.

View from the reef flat.

A different track from the parking area takes you to this lookout, but there is no access to the reef. (the track was in very bad shape and I do not recommend going there). On this track we found nice tree branches on the ground almost ready to become a walking stick which we used during our entire stay.

 

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