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Tokelau

Tokelau is a group of three atolls in Polynesia, north of Samoa, about half way between New Zealand (which administers the territory) and Hawaii.

Regions

Understand

Originally settled by Polynesian emigrants from surrounding island groups, the Tokelau Islands were made a British protectorate in 1889. They were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925.

Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand -- about $4 million annually -- to maintain public services, annual aid being substantially greater than GDP. The principal sources of revenue come from sales of copra, domain names, postage stamps, souvenir coins, and handicrafts.

Tokelau was on the east side of the International Date Line until it joined with Samoa and skipped 30 December 2011 and jumped at midnight from UTC -11 to UTC +13 and 29 Dec to 31 Dec.

Climate

Tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November) The average temperature is about 28°C annually. Rainfall is irregular but heavy. There are downpours of up to 80 mm in a single day which are possible any time. Tokelau is at the north edge of the main hurricane belt, but tropical storms sometimes sweep through between November and March. Since 1846, Tokelau had only experienced three recorded hurricanes. Then, in February 1990, waves from Hurricane Ofa broke across the atolls, washing topsoil away and contaminating the freshwater lens. Residual salt prevented new plant growth for months. Hurricane Val in 1992 and Hurricane Percy in 2005 did additional damage.

Landscape

Tokelau consists of three atolls, each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over three metres above sea level.

Get in

By plane

Tokelau has no airports. Lagoon landings are possible by amphibious aircraft

By boat

Tokelau has no ports or harbours; offshore anchorage only. A twice monthly service runs from Apia on board the MV Tokelau. This is subject to change and often unreliable. Foreigners take last priority in securing a place.

Pacific Expeditions Ltd go to Nukunono Atoll once a year from Apia, Samoa

Get around

Most people get around by car or bikes in Tokelau. People buy them from either classified ads or agencies that help with importing.

Talk

Tokelauan, a Polynesian language closely related to Samoan and Tuvaluan, is the native language, and most people can speak and understand English.

The name Tokelau is a Polynesian word meaning "north wind"

See

Tokelau is the habitat for several native plant and insect species as well as whales, dolphins and land crabs. 29 bird species live on the islands.

Do

Buy

Money

The currency used in Tokelau is the New Zealand dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "NZ$" (ISO code: NZD). It is divided into 100 cents. In this guide, the "$" symbol denotes New Zealand dollars unless otherwise indicated. Some Tokelauan-branded dollars have been produced but are hard to find.

Costs

Eat

The Luana Liki Hotel in Nukunonu is the only public eating place. If you are staying at the Luana Liki, you will get three meals a day included in the price.

Drink

Samoan beer is available in shops and at the Luana Liki Hotel, but sale is strictly rationed in Nukunonu.

The legal drinking age is 18.

Sleep

The Luana Liki Hotel in Nukunonu is Tokelau's only commercial accommodation. Homestays may be arranged in advanced through the Tokelau-Apia Liaison Office in Samoa.

Learn

Education in Tokelau for children between the ages of 5-18 is available and free. Each atoll has a primary and secondary school. The education system is similar to that in New Zealand.

The schools have levels or classes running from Early Childhood Education (ECE) right through to Year11. At Year11, students are required to sit a National examination. This examination is used to determine which students will continue Year 12 studies under the Tokelau Scholarship Scheme. The successful students commence Year 12 and 13 studies in Samoa.

Schools are under the administration of the Taupulega's (Village council). The Education department plays a supporting role in providing training and workshops for Principals and teachers, assisting in other developments with the schools, the setting and marking of the Year11 National Examinations and so forth.

Stay safe

Tokelau lies in the Pacific typhoon belt, and most of Tokelau is only 2 metres above sea level making it particularly vulnerable to sea level causing major flooding.

Over 96% of the population has access to safe water and just over 70% has access to adequate sanitary facilities. Health indicators are good and there is universal access to health care.

Stay healthy

Each atoll has a hospital. The health services have a Director of Health based in Apia and a Chief Clinical Advisor who moves from atoll to atoll as required to assist the doctors attached to each hospital.

An outbreak of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, started in 2014, so take precautions against mosquito bites.

Respect

Connect

Tokelau has a radio telephone service between the islands and to Samoa and is government regulated.


Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Most Canadian visitors to Tokelau do not experience problems.

Tourist facilities are limited. Basic infrastructure services such as electricity and telephones are minimal.

There is a limited supply of fresh water. Although bottles of water are readily available in village stores, you should bring your own water or a supply of water purification tablets.

There are no airports or automobiles.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Oceanic Pacific Islands. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in the Oceanic Pacific Islands, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

For the latest Travel Health Notices and information on vaccinations, outbreaks and diseases, consult the website of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.

The Agency publishes travel health advice for Tokelau.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities on the island are limited. In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation may be necessary. Evacuation services are extremely expensive and advance payment is often required.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.

Money

The currency is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). The economy operates on a cash only basis. There are no banks.

Climate

Tokelau is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes. The typhoon and monsoon seasons extend from November to April. Strong winds and heavy rains can occur, causing flooding and road damage. Weather conditions can change rapidly. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, especially before visiting remote areas, and plan accordingly.  

Consult our Typhoons and Monsoons page for more information.

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