Reputedly the world's largest coral island, Niue is an idyllic retreat from the modern world. Its rugged coastline, clear waters and coral reef offer excellent fishing, diving, snorkelling and whale watching. Parakeets, white-tailed terns, weka and other exotic birds live here and butterflies are a common sight darting among the hibiscus and orchids.
Despite the island's remote location, it is rarely short of visitors. At the same time, however, there are only a handful of hotels, so it is never crowded and easy to imagine you have the island all to yourself.
Most of the island inhabitants descend from settlers from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. The first Europeans reached Niue in the wake of Captain Cook's expedition in 1774. It became a British Protectorate in 1900, and was annexed to New Zealand as part of the Cook Islands. In 1974, Niue was granted 'self-government in free association with New Zealand', making it the smallest self-governing state with that status.