OUR thoughts on TONGA

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Just when you thought you had experienced everything the South Pacific could serve up in the way of a different holiday destination option; The Kingdom of Tonga presents itself for your consideration.  So what does Tonga offer the holidaymaker?  Lovely white sand beaches – yes; sheltered tropical lagoons – yes;  welcoming, friendly people – yes;  Interesting culture and life-style – yes; excellent yachting, Scuba diving, kayaking, whale watching, fishing, surfing – yes, yes and yes;  a unique history and a functioning Monarchy – yes.  What Tonga doesn’t offer is large-scale, international class resorts but that doesn’t mean that we can’t deliver you a very worthwhile and enjoyable holiday, executive breakaway or perfect honeymoon in this very interesting country.  We won’t confuse you with too many choices but we will offer you an excellent range of intimate properties, each one not only hand-picked for its unique character but personally visited by Our Specialists. In Tonga, tourism accommodation is almost exclusively provided by owner/operators of small hotels and resorts and this ensures that guests have a comfortable, enjoyable and wonderful holiday experience.

Tonga is one of New Zealand’s closest Pacific neighbours.  The flight time from Auckland is 2 hours and 50 minutes and there are usually 7 flights each week.  Tonga is also accessible by flights from Fiji several times a week.  You will arrive on Tongatapu Island at Fua’amotu International Airport.  The airport is 21 km from the capital, Nuku’alofa.  On the way in from the airport you will soon notice that Tongatapu is a large, almost completely flat island which has a sizeable inner lagoon as well as an extensive outer lagoon.  Although there are over 170 islands in the chain covering 747 sq. km, nearly 70% of the just over 100,000 inhabitants live on Tongatapu and Nuku’alofa is the only sizeable town in The Kingdom.  What makes Tonga so completely different is that it is the last remaining Polynesian kingdom and the trappings of monarchy are everywhere to be seen; from the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa to the Royal Tombs at Lapaha and even a royal holiday residence on E’ua Island.  Even though the palace and the tombs etc are not open to the public, their physical presence adds an interesting flavour to every visit to Tonga.

Tonga is one of those places where we recommend you obtain a book on the history of the country to read while you are visiting – knowing something of the extremely rich and interesting history which dates back to around 400BC adds immeasurably to your holiday experience.

There are two main “off-shore” island groups accessible by air from Tongatapu Island, they are Ha’apai and Vava’u. The Ha’apai Group comprises a series of mainly low islands with kilometers of perfect, white sand beaches and waving coconut palms. The flight time from Tongatapu is less than 45 minutes, but the feeling is something akin to a Robinson Crusoe desert island! The Vava’u Group is around a 1 hour flight from Tongatapu or 30 minutes from Ha’apai. Vava’u is a much hillier group of islands, although there are many small flat islands scattered around the expansive lagoon. The Vava’u hills, harbours, beaches and lagoons are spectacularly beautiful and perfect for diving/snorkelling, fishing, whale-watching (swimming with the whales) and sailing.

Vava’u is a perfect island group to enjoy by yacht and we now offer the option of bare-boat or crewed yacht charters from bases in Vava’u on modern, well-maintained, comfortable charter yachts provided by reliable, international companies.  If you have ever wondered what it would be like to sail in perfect conditions amongst beautiful sheltered islands and on sunny tropical seas, a yacht charter in Tonga is a great way to get started on this fabulous holiday option. Talk to our yacht charter Specialist for all the answers. 

Tonga still observes a total rest day on Sundays.  There are no shops open, no flights operate and the majority of the populace attend church.  There are enormous old stone churches everywhere.

From July to October whales migrate through Tonga and it is not unknown for whales to be sighted in the lagoons close to the small resorts we offer.

How much time would you need to allow to do justice to a holiday in Tonga?  For a stay-put holiday in either Tongatapu, Ha’apai or Vava’u a minimum of a week is needed to really get the greatest benefit.  To experience and enjoy all three island groups you really need 10 days to 2 weeks.

Tonga is an extremely interesting country to visit and even though its big resort-style tourism accommodation facilities are a little limited, we can provide you with a great range of comfortable, interesting and thoroughly enjoyable small hotels and resorts to ensure you have a wonderful Tongan holiday.

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Currency:
Pa'anga (TOP)
Most major credit cards are accepted.
Banks are open 9.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday and some are open Saturdays 9.00am to 12.00pm.

Electricity: 240V / 50Hz

Flying time: approx. 3 hours from Auckland, New Zealand.

Local Time: 13 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Weather:
Rain season is December to April, is moderate in humidity and has a year round average temperature of 27 degrees celcius.

Entry requirements:
* Valid passport for at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay (NZ passport holders).
* A valid return or onward air ticket and sufficient funds.

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