‘Mother Nature in Sync with Niue.’


Niue Island welcomed the first migratory Oceania humpback whales to their shores yesterday (20 June). This much anticipated annual arrival marks another early start to the season, which traditionally runs from July-October. Mother nature seems to be completely in sync with last year as this was the exact dates of the first sightings in 2023.


During this time, pods of humpback arrive to calve and nurse their young in the sheltered sanctuary of Niue. The deep, pristine, tropical waters of Niue and its rich feeding grounds make Niue an appealing stop for the whales on their epic journey south along what is known as the ‘humpback highway.’


Regarded as one of the premier locations in the world for whale watching and one of only three countries where people can swim with these majestic creatures and creating “bucket list” experiences for those that get in the water with them.


In 2023 National Geographic were on hand to capture the season and produced a documentary called ‘Protecting Paradise’ that documents the unique marine life and huge conservation efforts that have been undertaken to protect this giant marine reserve and the humpback visitors that found their way to paradise well before humans ever did. A quote from the documentary from the scientific team really sums it up “If there was somewhere that god lives, this is where he is.”


Niue launched Niue Ocean Wide NOW last year in New York and won the Nature’ category at the Fast Company’s 2024 World Changing Ideas Awards in May this year that celebrated 40% of Niue waters (127,000 square kilometres)  being completely protected and no take zone. Making it one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.

Land-based whale watching is also some of the best in the world with the humpbacks often coming within metres of the reef to clean themselves along it and bask in the sun. Niue is the world’s largest coral atoll so rises straight up out of the ocean. There is little-to-no shelf on Niue’s’ shoreline, meaning outside of the unique lagoons and coves, it is sheer deep blue. This also makes the fishing and diving experiences available unique as there is no need to travel long distances offshore to get to the action.


The noise of the whales blowing and calling each other can often be heard from the shore between the waves crashing on the reef, especially in the still of the night where they have also been known to wake visitors while they sleep from their rooms.


New high powered specialised outdoor binoculars have been installed this year at various points around the island for visitors to search for them offshore – although they are often not needed as they come in so close. Along with the binoculars are new whale information boards so visitors can fully understand what they are seeing.


Director of Tourism Micah Fuhiniu-Viviani says, “The arrival of the humpback whales has also been a highly anticipated season for locals and visitors alike and despite this familiarity always feels exciting when they are first sighted. The delight they bring to visitors and locals when a pod swims by to show off their young or erupts into a display of ‘whale gymnastics’ never tires. We have invested heavily into sharing this special experience in the most natural way with our visitors.”


For those wanting to immerse themselves into the world of the whales, on and underwater experiences can be had with experienced local and licensed operators. In-water interactions are carefully monitored and managed to uphold the safety and respect of both humans and whales. New Zealand’s multi-award-winning tourism and dive operator, Dive! Tutukaka, operates a Niue-based dive company, Niue Blue offering experiential and educational encounters. Locally owned and operated Explore Niue also have guided whale encounters in their folio of exceptional water and other land-based activities they provide.


The arrival of the humpback whales just adds to the year-round exciting array of nature-based and adventure experiences Niue Island is renowned for. With Air New Zealand again operating two flights (Saturdays and Tuesdays) from Auckland this year, visitors can be assured of a ‘Whale’ of a time.



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