New Caledonia is one of Australia and New Zealand’s nearest neighbours, situated only 1200km east of Queensland and 1700km northwest of New Zealand’s North Island. The capital Noumea is an easy flight from Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, with a maximum journey time of less than three and a half hours.
Aircalin is the national airline and offers 6 flights per week departing Sydney, 3 flights per week departing Brisbane and 3 flights per week departing Melbourne, with connections from Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, Canberra and Cairns. International flights arrive into Tontouta International Airport, located 45km northwest of Noumea.
Domestic flights with the national domestic carrier Air Caledonie depart from Magenta Domestic Airport located 15km from Noumea (the two airports are not connected). Flights depart several times a day to such parts of the archipelago as the Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines.
Car rental companies abound in Noumea and offer a wonderful way to thoroughly explore the country. Driving in New Caledonia is on the right-hand side of the road, and a valid driving licence from your own country is all you need to be able to legally drive. Roads are usually in excellent condition. It is also possible to secure car hire in the Loyalty Islands and Isle de Pines, allowing you to visit smaller communities and deserted expanses of white sandy beach.
Passports & Visas
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not currently require a visa for a stay as a tourist of up to three months but must hold a passport with six months validity beyond the date of departure from New Caledonia. If you are a non-Australian passport holder, please check your visa requirements with the appropriate Embassy or Consular office.
New Caledonia is part of the French Monetary Area and the local currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). Australian and New Zealand dollars are widely accepted in shops, hotels and restaurants. ATMs are available in Noumea, but some have a maximum weekly withdrawal limit and others are only accessible during business hours.
The climate is tropical. Hot and humid from November to March with temperatures in the high 20’s to low 30’s. And a cooler, drier period from June to August with temperatures in the low to mid 20’s. You can swim and relax all year round.
With the Melanesian people (Kanak) being here for over 3,000 years and the French from the 1840’s, New Caledonia is a wonderful melting pot of race, taste and colour. Population is 252,000, multi-ethnic and young.
French is the official language. The Kanak people of New Caledonia speak 33 different dialects. French serves as a common language between tribes.