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New Caledonia: Vive La Difference!

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New Caledonia

New Caledonia: Vive La Difference!

story by: Inspire Magazine

Everyone longs for the romance of France, but it’s oh so far away. Fortunately, New Caledonia offers a dose of French romanticism closer to home.

The luxe experience is only enhanced by the island’s swaying palms and a tropical breeze. Colonial charm, Melanesian culture and captivating scenery make a New Caledonian experience truly mesmerising. Whether you’re in Noumea, the nation’s capital, or off the mainland in the Isle of Pines, you’ll experience the true romance of the South Pacific. Vive la difference!

HIGHLIGHTS OF GRAND TERRE
The island of Grande Terre is home to Noumea. Wake up to a cafe au lait and croissant in the morning, then stroll the mouth-watering markets for some tasty tropical produce. You can even take a local cooking class yourself. Grab an Explorer hop-on hop-off pass so you can travel easily to these destinations on the bus.

Make sure you browse the luxury boutiques where French fashion and perfumes will tempt your budget. Don’t forget the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, inspired by the indigenous Kanack architecture and bursting with art and exhibitions.

A visit to Grand Terre’s surrounding lagoon - the world’s largest - is essential. Dive into the World Heritage Reef where more than 15,000 marine species occupy the underwater world.

Consider a local village stay, where you can explore the rich tapestry of Kanak culture for a day or more. The Kanak women might even ask you to join in their favourite game - cricket.


INDULGE IN THE ILE DES PINS
Just a 20 minute flight from Noumea, the Ile des Pins is a romantic’s dream. Its glowing white sand and blissful waters fringed by gently pendulating palms are a holiday fantasy.

This island is small, so rent a bike or scooter and explore. Hike 262 metres to the peak of N’Ga for shimmering panoramic views. The locals, called Kunies, will even sail you around the island’s sparkling coast on one of their traditional canoes.

If you can tear yourself away from sandy shores, explore some of the shadowy and mysterious island caves. There are also remains of a 19th century penal colony for a historical insight into the nation.


WHEN TO GO
  • A temperate climate with 2 main seasons – cold (Jun-Aug) and hot (Nov-Apr).
  • Water temperatures drop to 21°C in the cold season and average temperatures are around 24°C during the day and 15°C at night. Avoid these months if you want to laze on the beach.

GETTING THERE
  • All international flights to New Caledonia arrive at Tontouta International Airport, 45km northwest of Noumea. 
  • Air New Zealand flies to Noumea direct from Auckland twice a week and Aircalin flies out of Auckland 2 times a week. 
  • Once in Noumea, Air Caledonie provide scheduled services to Northern Grande Terre, Ile des Pins and to the Loyalty Islands. The domestic airport is at Magenta.
  • Experience New Caledonia by cruise. With various cruise companies frequenting the islands, enjoy your own island hopping adventure ​on-board a beautiful ship. 

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