Blogs from Tonga, Oceania


Oceania » Tonga » Vava'u January 5th 2019

The island of Vava'u is situated in the north of Tonga, and is famed for beautiful beaches on it's Outer Islands. Many tourists visiting the Kingdom only stop off in Nuku'alofa, before catching an Air Tonga flight north to the resort mecca. However, I had the privilege of spending four enjoyable days in the capital prior to heading to the airport, for a direct one hour flight on a propellor plane out to Vava'u. There seemed to be quite the crowd milling around at the arrival area of the airport, but to my astonishment I wasn't pounced upon by a bevy of taxi drivers haggling for business. This was a first for me, literally no-one was paying me any mind. I couldn't believe it, and out of desperation approached a westerner for help. He got the ... read more
Secluded beach
Neiafu centre
Neiafu coast

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 » Vava'u October 10th 2018

RealTonga had rescheduled our flight to Va'vau four times, so we set off for our noon departure with low expectations. It was immediately clear our fears were well founded. RealTonga’s only plane, was running late. Our flight was now scheduled to take off at six p.m. Probably. Over the next ten hours, we watched the plane arrive and leave four times, flying to and from various Tongan islands. Eventually, 7½ hours late, our turn came. In the dark, we flew to Vava'u, as far East as we will get on this trip. Vava'u is a small irregular island. The north has high cliffs and small sandy coves but the rest of the island is a maze, fingers of land winding between deep-water bays and lagoons. Beyond the main island, more than 50 smaller island are scattered. ... read more
Gill with our host and her children

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 » 'Eua November 17th 2016

'Eua is an hour by fast ferry - and a lifetime away! Still a traditional Tongan island in many ways it is a nature lovers paradise. But of course we chose the wettest weekend this year to go! But what's a little rain amongst 7 intrepid travellers. The "things that can really go wrong" did not stop there. When we arrived slightly green from the trip and really, really wet no one came from our booked accommodation. But one of our party had a friend who knew someone who asked someone - and we secured a lovely little cottage. We managed some walks - mostly wearing black plastic bin liners. But it was so worth any discomfort - lovely forests, sweeping coastlines and even wild horses. In part it looked more like the Welsh moors than ... read more
Land Bridge Eua
Wild Horses Eua

Oceania » Tonga October 27th 2016

Food is a major part of Tongan culture. The Umu is an earth oven - but really it's an event! Layers of leaves/cardboard line the pit and a fire is lit underneath. Food is cooked in parcels (leaves or these days foil). Traditional food is Lu - leaves wrapped like a parcel containing coconut milk and meat or fish). Root crops figure heavily - and I mean heavily. Taro can be as tall as me and is harvested when the roots are as big as a watermelon. The leaves also make fabulous umbrellas. It is a starchy white vegetable that tastes of...nothing really. I prefer the Kumala Hawaii which is a sweet potato that has a fantastic deep beetroot colour. Note the icecream Jan is holding - this is the smallest size! Sweet things feature large ... read more
Kumala Hawaii

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

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