A sizable chunk of southeastern Niue between Hakupu, Liku, and Alofi has been set aside as the Huvalu Conservation Area, a community project supported by the South Pacific Regional Environment Program. Eight-five percent of the reserve's 5,400 hectares is natural rainforest containing numerous species of banyan, Tahitian chestnut, and kafika trees. It's home to coconut crabs (uga), fruit bats (peka), and most of Niue's 29 species of birds.
The conservation area offers several excellent hiking trails. The five-km Fue Track starts near an old quarry 1.5 km north of Liku and goes through mature forest. The seven-km Vinivini Track begins 3.5 km west of Liku just 300 meters west of the point where the Fue Track meets the Alofi-Liku Road.
The first two km of the Vinivini Track passes bush gardens, but then it winds through the rainforest, finishing two km south of Liku. Although these tracks can be done on a motorbike, bird-watchers will wish to go quietly on foot.
The conservation area also includes a stretch of Niue's wild east coast with some of the most fantastic limestone features in the South Pacific. About four km northeast of Hakupu, the second-largest village on the island, is the trail to Togo Chasm. After a 20-minute walk, you reach a barren area of coral pinnacles much like the interior of Nauru Island. The path leads down to a wide chasm with coconut trees growing on the sandy bottom. Climb down the ladder to the sand, and swim in the pools at each end of the chasm. The green of the coconut trees combined with the golden sand contrasts sharply with the rocky wasteland, creating an almost North African effect—until you hear the ocean crashing into the cliffs just meters away; it's one of the scenic wonders of the Pacific.
From the Togo trailhead, travel northeast another four km to the trail to Vaikona Chasm. As you approach the coast through the pandanus brush covering the jagged limestone, you pass a sudden opening straight down into the chasm. Wind your way around the back of the opening and drop into a deep cave, grasping the stout orange rope provided for the purpose. You enter the chasm from the cave itself over huge rocks. There are two crystal clear pools to swim in, one at each end of Vaikona; tiny freshwater crayfish and black carp live here.
It would take a major expedition to explore all Vaikona Chasm has to offer. Resembling a ruined Gothic cathedral, the walls soar 30 meters to a canopy of vegetation, and huge blocks of the collapsed roof litter the floor. The stalagmites and stalactites of the entrance cave are like images on a broken medieval portal; by plunging into the cool, clear water of the pools, one has communion with the bowels of the earth. The crashing of breakers into the coast nearby is like the expurgation of sin—a spectacular visual experience. This awe-inspiring chasm is outstanding even for Niue.