Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tonga Holiday, part 4

Our last full day on 'Eua, and we decided to see some more of the sights the island had to offer. The lovely people at the Hideaway also ran 4x4 tours of the island, so the four of us opted to spend the day with Sifa again. The weather was beautiful again, although the seas were getting stormy and we learned that the ferry we had taken a couple of days before had been cancelled for the rest of the week. Luckily we'd booked the plane back to Tongatapu the next day.

We crammed into the 4x4 and first took another group up to the start of the Fangatave trek, before heading to our first sightseeing spot.

A view of the beach below the cliffs, our first viewpoint.

An example of a traditional house - this is now a school house.

Next we took a drive into the rainforest, and a walk up a river to a spring.

On the way we saw some Red Shining Parrots - unique to 'Eua. Unfortunately couldn't take any decent photos, but at least I can say I've seen a bird my dad hasn't yet seen!

Then we headed to see a sight I found absolutely amazing - a giant Banyan (strangling fig) tree. This particular tree is named Big Ovava, and you can see why!

Big Ovava is so big I couldn't take a photo of the whole of it in one go!

This tree is actually growing out of a giant sink hole, and we climbed down into it. It reminded me of the tree in Avatar, I could just imagine blue aliens swinging around in the roots and branches...

View taken from further down in the sink hole.

Another nearby sink hole, photo taken from the top.

And looking up from the bottom!

We made it down into the sink hole to the bottom of the tree - the roots are massive.

Sifa and one of the women in our group decided to climb back up through the roots and branches! I wasn't quite that brave!

After that little adventure we headed deeper into the rainforest - the vegetation along the track we drove was about as high as the car bonnet! Sifa took us to a cave called the Rat Cave - a name which didn't really encourage us to explore further...

Sifa headed into the small cave, I took a little more convincing...

But eventually I made it inside - it was more of a tunnel which opened onto a cliff ledge.

View of the rainforest coastline from the cliff.

Next we came to a man-made viewpoint, another lovely view of the national park coastline.

I managed to snap a photo of a white tail tropic bird (Tavake) - a pair of them were playing on the winds.

Another drive, and a short trek to a local waterfall, the Smoking Cave, unfortunately not much water in it at present.

A student fell to his death here not long ago, whilst walking in the bush at night. It would have been a pretty difficult retrieval, as the sink hole is deep and hard to access.

We then headed to Lakufanga - the Rock Gardens, where we had our picnic lunch and a little rest.

The cliffs at the Rock gardens.

There is a local legend about this place, where a starving family threw themselves to their deaths when they ran out of food and have been reincarnated as sea turtles. If you throw the fa fruit from the cliffs the turtles will come and eat them. You can read more about the legend here.

A natural archway - Li'anga Huo A Maui.

Legend tells that the archway was created by Maui's mother. Maui's mother had woken up Maui to do some hoeing on the island, and Maui, feeling quite angry about being woken up started hoeing and caused an earthquake. His mother stopped him as he was damaging the island and snatched the hoe from his hand, throwing it to the south of the island where it became embedded in the cliff face. Maui later pulled it out, creating the archway.

Our last stop after visiting the archway was a lovely empty beach. We had time to take a leisurely swim in the deep rock pools, and sunbathe afterwards.

It was another great day on 'Eua. I absolutely adored this island, if I came back to Tonga I think I would head straight here. Although we didn't have time to visit the other groups of islands that make up Tonga, I think we made a great choice in coming to 'Eua.

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