By Mercedes Ackerman
As the school holidays approach, families all over New Zealand are dreaming of island getaways as the weather here turns cold and wet.
First of all, when visiting Niue, don't expect to hop off the plane and see a sandy beach - wrong island.
When you think family friendly Pacific holiday destinations, Niue probably isn't at the top of the list, but if you enjoy a bit of adventure, Niue has got it going on.
Limu is a rock pool isolated away from the ocean. It provides fantastic secure snorkelling, arguably the easiest rock pool to enter so a great starting point for building confidence. The much deeper Matapa Chasm has fresh water coming in from the rocks so this was a little on the cooler side and it's not tide dependent. We visited at midday to get full sun on the crystal clear water in the chasm.
More like crushed shells than sand, Hio is a great little beach tucked down a short five minute walk and a few steep stairs. Head here to to catch some afternoon sun and a play in the shells. It's best to visit here during low-tide where you can venture out for a reef walk, a great learning tool for young and old to be mindful around the very delicate coral life - reef shoes are a must.
I'm the last person on the planet to be found doing mini golf tourism but after a bit of nagging I caved. Vailoama mini golf is a course like no other. It's set amongst the natural curves of the rocks and native plants. This was a true combination of nature and frustration, as I was beaten by my five-year-olds apparent golfing talent. You can then sit down for a beer or a milkshake for the kids at a bar at the end of the course.
As a sceptic of whale watching, I went in with very little expectations of seeing actual whales. I thought it would be more like seeing them miles away from shore and hearing "oh you just missed it!" What we got was the opposite.
Avatele is the largest village and has one of the most stunning boat ramps you'll ever see. This is a fantastic place to go for a walk on the coral and gaze down at the fish in the crystal clear water. But take reef shoes as we did spot a stonefish - possibly one of the most beautiful "ugly" fish I've ever seen.
Niue is a fantastic spot for an exploring child, its untouched raw beauty is a must see if you're planning more than just a "kids club" holiday. The locals are very friendly and we made many new friends on our trip.
We were lucky enough to spend a week at Anaiki Motel on the side of the island which is packed with swimming holes and set atop beautiful caves that lead down to the reef and more rock pools. It's also a short drive from "the city" Alofi. This self-contained accommodation took care of all of our activity booking, making for a stress free holiday.
The motel also has a lookout unlike anything else we found on the island where we watched the whales hang out in the water. They weren't miles from shore and they were there for quite some time - a truly majestic experience.
Mercedes Ackerman is a Newshub Travel contributor and mother of two.
What would you recommend doing when in Niue? Let us know in the Facebook Travel Tips and Tricks group.