On the 5th February my friend R and I flew out to Tonga for a holiday, a last hurrah as she was leaving New Zealand and heading back home. We got in at about 2am, found a shuttle bus to take us to our pre booked guest house, and then waited... and waited... until somebody woke up to check us in! Although I'd confirmed a couple of days ago, it seemed that they still didn't know we were coming!
On Saturday, after some sleep, we headed out to explore the capital of Tonga, Nuku'alofa. We checked out the market and wandered down to the lagoon, as well as sorting out an island tour for Sunday. Sundays are observed as rest days in Tonga, and not much is open or running, but a couple of places still run tours. The reason why everything closes on Sunday is because Tonga is a fairly Christian country. The majority are Mormons, but there are a few other faiths as well. There are churches on practically every street!
On Sunday we joined a minibus tour run by Tony of Tony's Tours. He's an expat who has lived in Tonga for many years, but he offers a somewhat British perspective on life in the Kingdom. He's quite funny, and not at all politically correct, but well worth spending the day with!
Saw a lot of coconut trees!
Apparently this is the only two-pronged coconut tree in the world!
Lovely beach, had a paddle in the warm Pacific Ocean (makes a big difference from St Clair Beach!)
The Blowholes - a pretty magnificent sight. there are holes in the rocks and when the tide rushes in, the water spurts through the holes, hence the blowhole effect.
After spending some time clambering around the rocks by the blowholes, we went for lunch at a quiet resort, and R and I got to sample our first coconut drink!
It's a bit of an acquired taste, but quite refreshing.
We also visited Hina Cave, a large cave on the beach where they often do traditional shows. Unfortunately we were in Tongatapu on the wrong days to go to this one, but we did see a different one on our last night.
Hina Cave has a bit of natural light from these holes in the ceiling.
This is a 'land bridge' - that's the sea underneath it! If I recall correctly there is a Maui legend about this area, but I can't quite remember the details any more...
Our last sight of the trip was 'Stonehenge' - unfortunately not really as impressive as the real one in England, as there is only one monument! At least you can go right up to it though, unlike it's namesake. This one is probably also some sort of calendar too. It was probably built about 1200AD.
That's about all for our Tongatapu tour, I took tonnes of photos but these are the highlights. It was a very enjoyable but quite tiring day, particularly getting used to the sudden change in temperature from our rather dismal NZ summer!