2006/09/30

Taveuni By Air

Please join me for an aerial tour of Taveuni. I've given family and friends aerial tours of Maui many times in my Cessna 172 "Manu-mele" (Songbird), but have not had the pleasure of piloting an aircraft around Taveuni. So, for this tour, I've put together some photos from different flights on commercial airlines to share some of the views of this largely unspoiled island.

Taveuni is about 42 km long and 11 km wide (26 by 7 miles). Ideally, I would like to fly an ultralight aircraft over the island for nice slow bird's eye perspective of the entrie island. Until then, please forgive the missed areas, and enjoy the ride.

First off, here is a map of Fiji so you can locate Taveuni:
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And a map of Taveuni itself, with circled numbers that match the sequence of the pictures.
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Ni sa bula! (greetings) and welcome aboard Pandabonium Air. We have beautiful weather today and you should get some great views of the island. Please fasten your seatbelt and pull it snug for takeoff. We'll be departing, of course, from Taveuni's Matei Airport.

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#1 Matei Airport

Straight ahead you can see the neighboring island of Qamea. On the left there appears to be a hill, but it is actually another island - Viubani - which is 133 meters in height.

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#2 Viubani Island

We turn right after taking off and get a nice view of Viubani Island. Beautiful little gem, isn't it? We'll continue our right turn as we climb. Now we can see Vurevure Bay. There is a tall three masted ship anchored there which is pointed in our direction. See it?
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#3 Vurevure Bay

This is where the Bouma National Heritage Park, which we will now fly over, begins. You can check in at Bouma Village and visit the falls I wrote about in the post "Booming Bouma!".

And next we are passing Lavena Point where the road ends and the beautiful nature hike described in the post "Walk on the Wild Side" starts. The village of Lavena has a population of about 1858 within a 7km radius of the point.

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#4 Lavena Point

The movie "Return to the Blue Lagoon" was filmed there. Great place for hiking, kayaing, and enjoying the forest and waterfalls.

Next up is the southern end of the island with its distinctive volcanic cones. Taveuni's volcano, like Maui's Haleakala, is dormant which means that while it not active at present, there could be an eruption some day. This part of the island was evacuated due to eruptions about 400 AD and was not resettled until 1100 AD. The last lava flows were 500 to 700 years ago. There is a lot of coconut grown down here and some cattle. Great place for horseback riding too, as I shared in "Horseback Riding - Fijian Style". At the village of Vuna, there is a beautiful blowhole on the coast where the sea water shoots straight up like a whale spout.

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#5 Volcanic cinder cones and the South Cape area.

We're turning north now up the west side of the island and passing Taveuni Estates. You can see the golf course in the bottom left part of this view. And if you look at the enlarged view you see the roads of the residential subdivision winding up the hill.

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#6 South end of Taveuni Estates

The peak in the top center of the above view (in the shadow of a cloud) is Nayavuloa which reaches 750 meters about sea level. The mountain ridge in this area is over 1100 meters high.

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#7 North side of Taveuni Estates

In the above view, the golf course club house is at the far right and just left of that is a big grass clearing where the boat launch ramp is and the beautiful Banyan tree featured in the post "Taveuni Tree Trumps Tractor". Center view one can see some homes dotting the hillside.

We skipped the main towns of Waiyevu and Somosomo today. Sorry, we'll have to do that another day. Now we see the northern end of Taveuni again with Qamea island in the distance. On the right is Narova Peak at 210 meters. There are some nice beaches in this area, and small hotels and guest houses. Maravu Plantation Resort is popular.
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#8 Northwest part of Taveuni, Qamea in the distance.

Here's the airport already and in the following view we're "turning from base leg to final" as we say, and you can see how the airport is situated right at the northern edge of the island.
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#9 Turning from Base to Final

Lined up on final approach now, you can look over my shoulder and see what it looks like to the pilot. It may look small to you, but no worries, the runway is three times the length we'll need.
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#10 Final Approach to Matei

Please check to see that your seatbelt is securely fastened in preparation for landing. Vinaka vaka levu (thank you very much) for flying Pandabonium Air today. We hope you enjoyed the tour and will visit us again soon.

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15 comments:

nzm said...

Excellent!

I never visited Taveuni, but we do plan to fix that soon, when we finally get around to the diving holiday that we're promising ourselves - when everything falls back into place for us!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I'm more like a mongoose than a bird and prefer to stay at ground level in Taveuni.
Of course the first time I looked down from a plane and saw the pattern and colours of the reef I was ecstatic!
Taveuni does have rain though - one day it rained 20 inches in a day and I was going crazy as the walls and clothes inside even got wet. I was staying at Qeleni and couldn't get outa there fast enough. Taveuni still is in my top five places in Fiji though.
W.

Pandabonium said...

NZM - I'm working on a post about a dive company in Taveuni, so stay tuned.

Wendy - wow. what an experience.

For the visitors - Qeleni is in the northeast part of the island, about half way between the airport and Vurevure Bay, the windward side and wetest part of Taveuni, evidenced by the number of rivers and streams that flow there year round. Not that the rest of the island doesn't get wet!

The Moody Minstrel said...

Nice trip so far...
What's the in-flight movie?

Pandabonium said...

MM - Glad you asked. It's "The High and the Mighty" (1954) starring Robert Stack and John Wayne as the pilots of a DC-6 that loses an engine enroute from Honolulu to San Fransisco. Should they try make SFO and risk running out of fuel and crashing into the city, or try a dangerous ditching in rough seas at night?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy...
and ignore that popping sound the left engine is making.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Re suitable films for travelling - we were on a bus from Nadi to Suva and the film screened for the 'pleasure' of passengers was that one about a bus going to explode if the driver stops. I think it was called 'Speed'!
W.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - that is funny! lol I remember that one. The bomb was set to go off if the bus went below 50 mph. Great choice.

FH2o said...

From your various postings on Fiji, I have decided that I must visit and kayak there one day! What an awesome place!

BTW I would be grateful if you can update your link to my blog to www.fh2o.kuchingkayak.com

Same old friendly blog but different address! Thanks!

Pandabonium said...

FH2O - your link is updated, thank you. It would be a great pleasure and honor to host you on Taveuni and kayak with you. It is a very special place.

Happysurfer said...

Vinaka vaka levu for the tour and the smooth flight, Pandabonium. That was really nice.

I had no idea so many islands make up Fiji. I read that Anthony Robbins, the author, owns one or some estate there. Do you know which one?

Pandabonium said...

Happysurfer - you are most welcome, it was my pleasure. Yes, something like 300 islands all together in Fiji, the four largest being Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, and Kandavu.

Mr. Robbins has held his seminars somehwere near Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu. You can see it on the map of Fiji, due West from Taveuni. He has not been well received by many locals because he brings people directly in and out of his seminar location without allowing time for them to spend any time (or money) in the community.

That kind of thing makes it hard for us foreigners who want to spend time there or retire and who DO care about the community and want to be a part of it in some way.

Robin said...

wow owow.

But it must be expensive and difficult to go.. if u dun have a jet at your disposal.

Pandabonium said...

Not so expensive to get to Taveuni. A tour by air might be though. It would be wonderful to own an airplane there. No need for a jet.

Happysurfer said...

About Mr Robbins, how is it that no one has 'educated' him? From what I read, he's a really nice guy or are the books and magazines not telling the truth?

Pandabonium said...

Well, Happysurfer, maybe he is a "nice guy". I've taken a course of his. But you know, people like him are really about making money for themselves and much of the article you see about such people are more advertising than truth.