Discover Noumea, New Caledonia
Air New Zealand flies non-stop from Auckland to New Caledonia. Domestic connections are available from Air New Zealand serviced airports.
New Caledonia travel delivers a unique Pacific experience, where Melanesian and French cultures combine to offer welcoming hospitality and a blissful holiday lifestyle. Coral-sand beaches, palm trees, turquoise lagoons, European-style shopping and wonderful restaurants - you can have them all in this charming tropical paradise. Adventure is calling too, with coastal road journeys on Grande Terre and marine excursions to the outer New Caledonia islands.
Six areas of New Caledonia have been declared treasures of the world by UNESCO. The best way to see these remarkable places is from a yacht, either with a skipper or as a bare-boat charter.
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It's easy to assemble holiday packages for New Caledonia using our site. During the flight booking process, you'll have the option of adding travel insurance and/or a rental car. After you've completed payment, we'll give you the option of booking accommodation through Expedia.
New Caledonia flights from New Zealand land at La Tontouta International Airport, which is a 35-minute drive from downtown Noumea.
Where to go and what to see in New Caledonia
Of all the reasons tourists visit New Caledonia, number one is tropical Frenchness. This Pacific country is one-of-a-kind in the world, offering a holiday experience that's memorable for European style layered with idyllic Pacific scenery and relaxation. Check out the top 10 things to do in New Caledonia.
Your holiday can be centred on Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, or you can easily travel further to an outer island or add a road trip around Grande Terre, the main island. Fast ferries link Noumea with the Isle of Pines, Mare and Lifou. You can also catch domestic flights to a number of island and mainland towns. Renting a car and driving around Grande Terre is a leisurely way to discover more of New Caledonia. The roads are mostly sealed and traffic is light. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
French culture in New Caledonia
New Caledonia is described as a 'special collectivity of France', which is an elegant way of saying the archipelago is a French overseas territory. While the official language is French, English is sometimes spoken in resorts and urban areas. Brush off your high-school French, bring your French phrasebook or use Google Translate on your phone to communicate with the locals. They're famously patient and will be glad you're making an effort.
Apart from language, the Frenchness of New Caledonia is most obvious in Noumea. You'll find marvellous restaurants that put a tropical spin on French cuisine, wonderful patisseries for cakes and pastries, authentic boulangeries (bakeries) for baguettes that taste as good as those baked in Paris, and fashion stores that sell European brands. When you're strolling down Rue de l'Alma and Rue de Sébastopol, look for Mango, Etam and Okaïdi. You'll also find high-end pret-à-porter boutiques in the city neighbourhood of Alma. As with Paris, there is a Latin Quarter in Noumea - definitely the place for unique purchases and window shopping. La Promenade in Anse Vata is another excellent shopping destination, known for luxury shops and haute couture.
For some French colonial Instagram shots, look for the old Noumea City Hall, Chateau Hagen and Maison Celieres. Bernheim Library and Noumea Cathedral also deserve some photo time. And make a point of visiting Faubourg Blanchot, the bourgeois (upmarket) neighbourhood of the city in the late 19th century. There are around 60 colonial homes and four other historical buildings here, all tied together with a walking trail produced by Noumea City Council.
Of course, the quickest route to French flavour in Noumea is through food. As well as delectable imported ingredients and artisan products, there's an excellent supply of local ingredients to keep the restaurants and food stores well-stocked. While holidaying in New Caledonia, you'll come across locally-grown tropical fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat and aromatics, such as vanilla.
If you plan to do some self-catering during your holiday, you'll discover rich pickings at the Port Moselle Market. Arrive early if you can, because produce sells quickly. Then find a boulangerie for baguettes the way they should be - skinny with a slightly chewy crust and deliciously soft interior. Pick up some croissants too, as well as a few choux pastries for dessert. Also look out for traiteurs, caterers who sell ready-made delights such as paté, terrines and duck confit. And have fun browsing a Noumea supermarche (supermarket) for the basics, as well as take-home meals that make dining in easy.
Quintessential restaurant experiences in Noumea include Les 3 Brasseurs, where you'll find flammekueche - an ultra-thin pizza from Alsace; Le Roof, which overlooks the water and is built in the style of a Melanesian house; and Le Rocher Creperie, located up the hill between the town's two main beaches. For a splurge evening, book a table at L'Hippocampe or L'Alinea for tropical French food at its best.
Outdoor adventures on land and sea
It's easy to enjoy the marine environment that laps at the edges of Noumea. You can catch a Coconut taxiboat to explore the lagoon, go fishing on a charter launch, rent a stand-up paddle board or sea kayak, or get airborne above the waves on a paraglider. To see the perfect little desert island, complete with lighthouse, take a day trip to Amedee - it's one of the best things to do in New Caledonia.
Land-based adventures easily accessed from Noumea include horse riding, mountain biking, hiking and hunting. As well as being great fun, these experiences give you a chance to interact with local guides, who are often of Kanak descent. A 'best of' list would include the Grande Randonnée hiking route, riding horses along the beaches of the Lebris Peninsula and biking Les Boucles de Tina, a network of trails in Noumea. For the super-athletic, the Trans-Caledonian is a two-day race event that's as scenic as it is challenging.
Six areas of New Caledonia have been honoured as treasures of the world by UNESCO. The Entrecasteaux Reefs, Great Northern Lagoon, Northeast Coastal Region, Ouvéa and Beautemps-Beaupré atolls, Western Coastal Region and the Great Southern Lagoon are now listed among the planet's 200 leading natural heritage sites. The best way to see these remarkable places is from a boat, either with a skipper or as a bare-boat charter. There are several charter boat companies in Noumea, based at Port Moselle and Baie des Citrons.
Best time to go
The New Caledonia climate is best-described as 'semi tropical'. The average temperature year-round is 24°C. In the warmest months, December to March, daily temperatures get into the high 20s and rainfall is more frequent. In the cooler months, June to August, the average is in the low 20s and there's less rainfall.
How much will it cost
The local currency is the Pacific French Franc. Hotel and food costs are comparable to New Zealand and Australia, with savings if you eat local produce and choose cheaper accommodation than the international-style resorts.
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