An intoxicating blend of South Pacific idyll and French sophistication is waiting just a two-and-a-half hour flight from Auckland. New Caledonia is like nowhere else in the Pacific – and as soon as you set foot there, you’ll appreciate the source of its very special charm: Mediterranean meets mellow Melanesia. The capital, Noumea, occupies the southern tip of the main island, Grande Terre, with beautiful bays on both sides. It’s sophisticated yet casual and you won’t find anywhere else on earth quite so similar to the French Riviera. The atmosphere in this little city is pure Gallic, with boutiques, patisseries, cheese shops and restaurants lining quaint streets and squares. Explore the Latin Quarter and the old districts of the Vallee du Tir and Vallee des Colons – and you could be in France.
Just outside the town, on the shores of the world’s largest lagoon, are the stylish resorts of Anse Vata. The lagoon itself is home to a myriad of tropical fish as well as the endangered dugong and rare turtles – a visit to the National Aquarium will give you an insight into this remarkable underwater world. Venture further afield and you’ll find a surprising variety of landscapes on Grande Terre: forests, mountains and wide, grassy plains. And, of course, there’s more to New Caledonia than just one island. The Ile des Pins (Isle of Pines) is a dreamlike paradise on the Tropic of Capricorn and the tranquil, unspoilt Loyalty Islands – Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa – are simply exquisite. If you want to lose yourself in relaxation, these are the places to go.
So, for the ideal New Caledonian experience… give yourself time to explore the chic town of Noumea, time to enjoy the resort life of Anse Vata and round it off with time all to yourself on a magical outer island. Perfection!