Blogs from Tongatapu, Tonga, Oceania


Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu April 17th 2019

! would rather own little and see the world than own the world and see little of it!– Alexander Sattler The day after our trip to Hobbiton was spent at a leisurely pace, strolling down to the Auckland waterfront, checking out the yachts we’d never be able to afford, lunching in the sunshine of Viaduct Basin with its wall to wall restaurants and bars before spending the afternoon wandering through the city centre. We passed the Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. I visited the observation deck last time we were here in 2010. I didn’t want to spoil a once in a lifetime experience by ascending the tower again!! Auckland is known as the city of 1,000 sails. Well, we walked down the main shopping centre and I ... read more
What can we call the parade of retail outlets onboard
Quite a swell in the South Pacific
A carpet in one of Maasdam's elevators

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu December 29th 2018

Back in 2015 I had my heart set on visiting Tonga, with flights and accommodation booked as part of a previous South Pacific adventure. Mother Nature, however, had different plans as a volcano burst out of the ocean just off the coast and started spewing volcanic ash in a major eruption. Bizarrely; I had gone through check in, customs, and immigration on multiple occasions, and the planes had taken off, only for the pilots to announce mid flight we had been ordered back to Auckland. This was my version of Groundhog Day, where every day is the same! After three days of trying I had no alternative but to abandon my dream of visiting this South Pacific paradise. Well, here we are at the tail end of 2018, and this time around an effortless commute from ... read more
Tsunami rock
Natural Land Bridge

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu October 3rd 2018

A flight East brings us to a new South Pacific archipelago and a new culture. Tonga is very different from Vanuatu. The plane landed late. Queuing for immigration and baggage we hear gentle Tongan music and it's not recorded, there is a small band playing to greet us, at one o'clock in the morning. The music, and the band’s clothing, make us realise that we have arrived in Polynesia. They all wear the tupendu, a sarong like garment, and they are all big. All Tongan men look as if they play rugby! Nuku'alofa, on the biggest island Tongatapu, is small and laid back. It's a proper capital with a parliament (just 30 MPs), a palace for the King and so on. It's just not very big and feels gentle and friendly. Nuku'alofa suffered a direct cyclone ... read more
Our second floor apartment
Royal palace
Our beach

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu October 5th 2016

Pigs and piglets are everywhere here. They wander freely and often cause trouble for gardeners and road users. Roast pig is the dish of choice for weddings, funerals and any important occasion. But drunken pigs? Well because they roam freely sometimes they become a major nuisance. We have 2 that keep breaking into our compound and digging up the taro. They have become cheekier by the day and have evaded traps set for them. So desperate measures are called for - people have been sleeping out and trying to bait them with coconuts and bread. Then came the idea to soak the bread in vodka with the hope it would knock the pigs out! Guess what? It doesn't work and now the pigs not only get fed but they get happy hour drinks too. Back to ... read more

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu September 13th 2016

It's been a busy but fantastic time - Friday we had our inaugural Services Competition. Fire, Police, Army, Navy and Prisons competed for a trophy at a real gala event. Lots of VIP's and spectators were there. Plus of course a sausage sizzle. This event was the culmination of 10 weeks training for over 100 services personnel. I distinctly remember them arriving - thinking it was a one off. Oh no we informed them - this is ten weeks! But even when the weather chucked rain on us and the winds howled they (usually) came. Most had no idea that you would swim 50m in a lane and then had to touch a wall the other end (doesn't sound logical when I put it like that!). But they did it - all 4 strokes. We also ... read more
Go Mou'unga
It's a long way 50m!
Touch the wall!

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu August 17th 2016

Winter has really taken hold! Torrential rain and temps under 20 degrees. This wasn't in the brochure. Also the shops seem to have emptied. Supplies can be vulnerable to shipping and of course weather for veggies. When a ship does arrive it's a race to stock up - depending on what comes in. There is always mayonnaise, soft drinks and chips. Beyond that - anyone's guess. We are waiting for coffee..... Jan is chief shopper and responsible for scouting the town. The fresh food markets are great though and you can get fantastic veggies and fruits. But I have never seen anywhere that sells so much mayonnaise. It's in every shop from tiny fales to the big supermarket. I keep asking if they have any other uses for it - maybe body lotion when there is ... read more
Veggie markets

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu July 28th 2016

Tomorrow is a 50 or 60 km bike trip from the east of the island to Able Tasman point in the west (also where there are more bars). Easy - except for the piglets, dogs and other hazards! And Tongans motorists really don't understand cyclists. They definitely don't get the idea we do this for fun..... We have a variety of volunteers and bikes going along - everything from racing bikes to shoppers. Should be a fabulous day; especially as Tonga has several local brewed beers to celebrate with. So what else have we been up to? Well Jan has an amazing veggie patch coming up. Plus he goes to the bush block and helps with the taro planting. He's also become island bicycle repair man by default. I am having success at work with getting ... read more
Abel Tasman Point
The end!
Glam ladies

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu July 14th 2016

We have just had an exhausting 2 weeks watching the Ms Heilala contestants go through their paces! Ms Heilala is a Tongan beauty contest. More pics are in our online media at: I was surprised such a conservative and church going nation would have such a beauty pageant; but this is just the first of many! Ms Heilala is exceedingly popular - it takes place over 2 weeks and includes a multicultural night, a talent contest and of course the sarong parade (there is never going to be a swimsuit parade!). We are now eagerly awaiting Mr Maka, or Mr Tonga. Bodybuilding is very popular and the local gym(especially the mirrors) gets a real workout. Should be a fabulous event. But the most exciting, glamorous and anticipated for me is Miss Galaxy. Miss Galaxies are ... read more
Tongan bodybuilders
Miss Galaxies

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu June 30th 2016

As most of you know one of our favourite things is outrigger canoeing (one very good reason for being in the Pacific!). There is a very active club here that meets several times a week and has races on public holidays. Luckily for us in the 6 weeks we have been here we have had 3 public holidays. So some very fast races and I am developing excellent muscles. If I can develop half the muscles Tongans have I will be happy (and unbalanced). A fabulous surprise last Sunday - there were 2 spots on an outrigger going across to Pangaimotu Island. Jan and I jumped at the chance and had a fabulous afternoon on a sandy beach jumping in the water; but no beers as we had to paddle back. Pangaimotu is known as either ... read more
Race Day
Tonga National Outrigger Canoe Club

Oceania » Tonga » Tongatapu June 23rd 2016

Even though it's winter (well, cool in the water for the locals), we are full steam ahead at Tonga Swimming!. We are training some great volunteer swim coaches and they will be teaching in their villages at the beach. There are 2 local girls (Poli and Mele) who are developing as our swim assistants. It has been a steep learning curve for them as until recently they hadn't hear of butterfly stroke. We are also doing sessions with the Navy (yes - bring on all the Sailor jokes!) and adult learn to swim and masters. By September we will have the whole island swimming! I have put a few team pictures - see if you can spot Jan.... read more
The TSAA team!
TSAA fun

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