Tokelau is a part of the world that does not have its own currency in circulation. Instead Tokelau – which is officially recognised as one of New Zealand’s five territories – uses the New Zealand dollar.
You may already be familiar with the New Zealand dollar. If not, you will probably guess that it is divided into 100 cents, just as every other dollar in the world is. There are five coins in use at the moment, of which three are in cents. These are the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. You can also find and use the one and two dollar coins. There are also a selection of banknotes. The smallest of these is the five dollar note and the biggest is the $100 note. In between you also have the $10, $20 and $50 notes.
The New Zealand dollar became the official currency of Tokelau back in
1948. This was the point at which the Tokelau Act passed. This act basically stated that at this point Tokelau was to become an officially-recognised part of New Zealand. The same act also gave notice that several coins made on Tokelau were to be recognised and validated as such. These are the only coins you will find that are unique to Tokelau and not part of the official New Zealand dollar currency.
This is easy enough because you’ll be able to get it prior to your trip to Tokelau. Most good bureaux de change will have the currency in stock or will be able to order it in for you before you go.
You will soon come to realise that life on Tokelau is very far from being hectic. The tourist industry has barely even found this part of the world, so getting cash while you are there is made more problematic than you might think. This is made so by the fact there is not a single bank anywhere to be found in Tokelau!
Basically if you are thinking of paying a visit to Tokelau you need to go with cash and be prepared to use this and only this while you are there.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Tokelau New Zealand dollar
You can easily do this because the New Zealand dollar is generally one of the easiest currencies to find when you go to a site that has a currency converter available. Use the ISO code NZD to find it as quickly as possible; alternatively some sites list the most popular currencies near the top of a drop-down list. This will usually list the New Zealand dollar somewhere in that section.
As you are probably becoming more aware, Tokelau is a small place so it does not have an embassy or anything of the sort in the UK. Furthermore Tokelau itself is not mentioned as a separate place on the UK government website, which lists information and advice for those who are thinking of visiting particular countries. You can however visit the page for New Zealand at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/new-zealand, which does mention Tokelau briefly.
The last thing you really need to worry about in Tokelau is crime. This is a tiny place and few people actually live here. Of course you should take the usual kinds of precautions you’d take anywhere else, but really this is more to make sure you don’t accidentally lose your belongings rather than anything else.
The biggest thing to be aware of is the weather. It is quite low-lying in relation to other land masses in this part of the world. As such if the weather turns it can flood quite easily, so this is something to be aware of. It is also in a part of the world that is visited by typhoons, so stay alert in case one happens to strike while you are on the island.
Tokelau is essentially part of New Zealand, but is it close to New Zealand itself? Actually it lies some distance away to the north east, while Australia is farther away still. Samoa is closer but is still a long way away to the south, as is Western Samoa. To the south west you will find Wallis and Futuna as well.
Tokelau actually consists of three atolls rather than official island masses. An atoll is a coral reef shaped in a ring. This means the land mass is in a ring, while the centre of it is taken up by a lagoon. If you look closely on a map that allows you to zoom in to see the three atolls, you will see this is the case. The atolls are called Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu. To give you an idea of just how small Tokelau is, the total amount of land given over to the three atolls put together is a mere five square miles! This is one of the reasons why tourism is very sparse here. Although it is a wonderful place it really is in the back of beyond and very hard to reach.
Indeed this is worth bearing in mind if you do ever decide to go there. Firstly there is no airport you can use to get to the islands. If you wanted to fly there you would have just one, rather novel option – to fly in using an amphibious plane that is capable of landing on the water. It could then land in the lagoon itself. This is not the way most visitors come to the islands however. Instead they come via boat.
However even this presents some problems since visitors are never the most important people to bring to the islands. You would have to get a boat from Apia in Samoa. This is a long trip, taking around a day and a half to get from Apia to the islands. What’s more, the service only runs once a fortnight! This gives you an idea of how long a break on Tokelau would last for. It’s not a luxury trip either since you’ll be expected to bring your own mattress for the journey. Needless to say if you want to have an experience and be rewarded by arriving at one of the quietest islands on earth, it’s worth the hassle it can take to get there.
This brings us to accommodation. Where will you stay when in Tokelau? Well you don’t have too many choices – in fact there is but one hotel to choose from. This is the Luana Liki Hotel and it is also the one place that has a restaurant. Needless to say if you want to stay on Nukunonu, where the Luana Liki Hotel is situated, this is where you’ll be staying. It does look charming in photographs though, and thus provides a nice base for any trip to this particular atoll.
You can also consider staying at the one resort on Nukunonu. This is the Fale Fa Resort. The good news is that the price per night also includes your meals so it is quite reasonably priced and provides a great place to stay if you wish to opt for a resort rather than a hotel. It is actually virtually impossible to find out any more information other than this.
As you can imagine, it is supremely easy to get around on the atolls, no matter which of them you visit. This is because they are so small you can wander around at leisure and soak in the sights. The sights mainly consist of lagoons, the ocean and the ground beneath your feet. Remember, these are small atolls and as such the only people who visit on holiday are those who really want to get away from everything in a big way.
Make no mistake though – Tokelau is a stunning place and the atolls, made as they are from coral reef, are beautiful in every way. You can swim here as well as enjoying the sunshine and sitting back watching the world go by. If you want you can use an outrigger to travel around in the water, which is a nice experience to have. On land you also have the option of using a bicycle if you’d rather have a change from walking.
So this is not the kind of place you’d visit if you want somewhere with some nightlife to enjoy. Indeed, this is getting away from it on a grand scale. Many point out the journey to get there is demanding and it will test your patience. However those that do make the journey are well-rewarded once they arrive. They find there is plenty to appreciate once they get to the islands, since they are still a relatively well-kept secret for most of the world.