New Caledonia, so close to Australia, still remains to be discovered in France…

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New Caledonia is a French overseas collectivity endowed with a large autonomy under the terms of the Nouméa agreement of 1998. It includes the main island of Grande Terre (where the capital, Nouméa is located), the four Loyalty Islands (Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga and Maré), the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines and a few remote islands.

Just over 270,000 people live in New Caledonia (2019). About 39% are indigenous (“Kanak”). The rest are Caledonians of European, Polynesian and other descent (including Vietnamese, Indonesian and Algerian).

But who goes to New Caledonia?

Metropolitans remain the main pool of tourists (44%). Next come travelers from overseas communities in the Pacific: Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia represent 13% of the market. The Japanese will soon be back. However, the major tourist clientele could come from Australia and New Zealand. As a reminder, Sydney is just over 2 hours by plane from Noumea.

Qantas made no mistake in organizing a presentation in Paris

New Caledonia Tourism & Qantas had the pleasure of introducing agents to the destination with flight offers and fare products.

Wondering what to do in New Caledonia?

New Caledonia has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all atolls or reefs. It has been French territory since 1853. It is home to a fascinating indigenous Melanesian culture that is respected and celebrated. Plus, it has some of the most delicious food you’ll ever eat on your Pacific vacation. Long live difference ! This tropical vacation is unlike any other.

Foreigners are delighted to enjoy a good meal in a French restaurant in Noumea

Many of Noumea’s top restaurants are French, ranging from the laid-back Le Faré at Palm Beach in Anse Vata to the beautifully located Le Roof, which is housed in an overwater bungalow-style building off Promenade Roger Laroque. The food you will discover is prepared and cooked according to French methods, but revisited by the use of delicious tropical ingredients.

Kanak culture

The Tjibaou Cultural Center in Noumea is one of New Caledonia’s main attractions. Designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, the center’s design is a visually stunning modern interpretation of traditional Kanak architecture. Here you can experience the unique art, history, customs and culture of the original people of New Caledonia, while strolling beautifully landscaped grounds from site to site. Consult the entertainment program to find out if your visit to this Nouméa cultural center can coincide with a concert, show, ball or market.

What are the culinary specialties of New Caledonia?

There is no shortage of baguettes, croissants and mouth-watering tarts in Nouméa, but there are also New Caledonian culinary experiences that will surprise you. Bougna, for example, is a traditional food made from chicken, lobster or fish mixed with yams, sweet potatoes and coconut milk. Everything is wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an earthen oven. Or how about New Caledonian blue prawns, carefully farmed in the lagoons of New Caledonia. New Caledonia is also famous for its delicious wild venison.

Relax on Amédée Island

Imagine the Pacific beach of your dreams – powdery white sand, clear turquoise water and living coral just offshore for a lazy snorkel with hundreds of tropical fish. That’s exactly what you’ll find on Ile Amédée, an easy day trip from Noumea. There is a white painted lighthouse on the island which was first illuminated in 1865. You are invited to climb the cast iron staircase to the top for a bird’s eye view. In 2009 Amédée Island was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, so it is definitely worth a visit.

Go outdoors on Mont-Dore

Just 30 minutes east of Noumea is Mont-Dore, a challenging hike that will reward you with the greatest panorama in the region. It takes around four hours to hike to the top (800 meters above sea level) and back, so you’ll need to stock up on baguette, cheese and water for this adventure. To make a day of it, you can also discover the town of Mont-Dore on the lower slopes of the mountain.

Visit to the Second World War Museum

This museum is inside a WWII Quonset Hut, giving it an authentic point of difference. Along with exhibits of war artefacts and photographs, it tells gripping stories that expose the enormous human and logistical effort required for the Pacific War. Thousands of soldiers from the United States, New Zealand and Australia were based in New Caledonia after the main base of the United States Navy’s South Pacific Fleet moved to Noumea in 1942. Another site of the World War II that concerns New Zealanders is the Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery and Memorial, which is a two-hour drive northwest of Noumea.

A bike ride in the Blue River Park

To the northeast of Noumea is the Blue River National Park, which protects some of the best natural attractions and wildlife on Grande Terre. You can rent bikes in the park from Sud Loisirs and then pedal the 13 km route through the park. Signs along the way tell you where to look for rare Kagu birds and New Caledonian kauris. The scenery is spectacular. The park base also rents kayaks to explore the river. As far as activities in New Caledonia go, this is one of the best.

Diving to Duck Island

Right next to Anse Vata beach is Île aux Canards, an idyllic little island bordered by one of Noumea’s most beautiful beaches. Take a water taxi, then rent a lounge chair with an umbrella. There is snorkeling right on the sand, as well as an underwater trail that you can follow marked with buoys. Food and drinks are available on the island or bring your own. Reef shoes are a good idea.

Explore Fort Tereka for the history of New Caledonia

Just at the end of the Nouville Peninsula is Fort Tereka, an abandoned 19th century military fort, complete with cannons and tunnels. It’s easy to spend a few hours exploring the tunnels, gunpowder stores, and lookouts. A great way to tour the peninsula is to rent a bike. On the way to the fort, stop at the Maritime Museum. There is a resort restaurant at Kuendu Beach for lunch.

Catherine Mills Avatar