Scenically, New Caledonia is extremely diverse: it boasts some of the best white-sand beaches in the Pacific, but also breathtaking mountains. A 1,600 km long barrier reef surrounds New Caledonia, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. New Caledonia is also said to have the largest lagoon in the world. New Caledonia is not of volcanic origin like its neighbors, but part of a prehistoric continent that split off about 250 million years ago. Its flora and fauna has therefore developed isolated from the rest of the world and is unique today. New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific region after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. It became a French colony in 1853 and a French overseas territory in 1946. Indigenous people have attempted independence from France on several occasions, including during the Kanak Revolt of 1878. Conflicts between the two countries continue to this day, showing how different they think about issues of New Caledonian self-government or French nuclear tests in the region. See other countries in Oceania on ehistorylib.
Arriving by plane
New Caledonia’s national airline, Aircalin (SB), connects Noumea with Tokyo and Osaka (Japan), Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand) and Tahiti, among others. Lufthansa (LH) offers flights to Nouméa from Munich in cooperation with Aircalin (SB) via Osaka (Japan). All Nippon Airways (NH) flies in cooperation with Aircalin (SB) from Vienna via Tokyo to Nouméa (change of airport in Tokyo); the flight to Tokyo is also operated by Austrian Airlines (OS) and the flight from Tokyo to Nouméa is also operated by Japan Airlines (JL). Air France (AF) connects Vienna and Zurich in cooperation with Aircalin (SB) via Paris and Tokyo-Narita with Nouméa. Flights to Paris or Tokyo is also offered by Austrian Airlines (OS) from Vienna and Swiss (LX) from Zurich; then onward flight to Nouméa with Aircalin (SB).
Munich – Nouméa: 24 hours 55 minutes; Vienna – Noumea: 25 hrs 20 mins; Zurich – Nouméa: 26 hrs 5 mins (Duration of travel may vary significantly depending on length of stopovers and/or changes of aircraft.)
Arrival by car
Toll: There are no toll roads.
Arrival by ship
The international port of Nouméa is served by several cruise lines.
On the world cruises that start in Hamburg, AIDA also docks in the port of Nouméa. In Australia, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Hapag Lloyd Cruises, among others, start their cruises with a stopover in Nouméa. Starting in the USA, Holland America Line has Nouméa in its program.
Traveling by plane
Air Calédonie (TY) connects Nouméa-Magenta with Touho, Koné, the airport on Île des Pins and Maré, Ouvéa and Lifou on the Loyauté Islands, with regular domestic flights. Air Loyauté serves Nouméa-Magenta and Koumac airports, as well as Bélep on Île Art and Maré, Ouvéa and Lifou on the Loyauté Islands. Light aircraft and helicopters are available for charter from Air Alizé.
Traveling by car/bus
The road network has a total length of around 5,000 km. On the southwest coast there is a connecting road between Koumac and Nouméa, with a subsequent ring road via Yaté. Several cross-connections branch off to the coastal road on the north-east coast, connecting Pouébo with Thio. Toll: There are no toll roads. Gas stations can be found both in the island towns and on the connecting roads.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
The roads on the main island are mostly well developed and partly paved. In heavy rain, however, the unpaved roads are often difficult to drive on. The other islands only partially have good roads.
The road network of New Caledonia includes highway-like roads, so-called “routes territoriales”, which are marked with the letters RT and a number, as well as various country roads (“routes provinciales”).
Rental cars are available in the capital and at the airport from international and local companies. Drivers must be at least 21 years old (may vary depending on vehicle category and rental company) and have held their driving license for at least 2 years.
Taxis are plentiful in and around Nouméa; Taxi ranks are located in the city center and in Anse-Vata. Fares are based on time and distance. One should insist that the taximeter be turned on.
Motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles can be rented. On the Loyauté Islands and Île des Pins, bicycles and mopeds are often available through the hotels for exploring the islands.
Buses from Raï go to places all over the island.
Traffic regulations: – due to the affiliation with France, the French traffic regulations apply in New Caledonia (see France). Speed limits: – in built-up areas: 50 km/h; – extra-urban: 110 km/h.
The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; in the event of damage to the vehicle: Tel. +49 (0)89 22 22 22, in the event of illness: +49 (0)89 76 76 76. In the event of breakdowns or accidents with the rental car, the car rental company should be contacted first.
The national driving license is sufficient; however, the international driver’s license is also recommended.
Traveling in the city
In Nouméa, there are regular buses every 15 to 30 minutes during the day. Taneo buses take travelers on numerous routes to the city’s sights and places in the surrounding area. Taneo offers various fare reductions, including a senior citizen and youth pass.
Locally on the way by train
New Caledonia has no rail service.
Traveling by ship
From Grande Terre there are regular connections to the smaller islands. The high-speed catamaran “Betico” sails regularly from Nouméa to the Île des Pins and the Loyauté Islands. Boats for trips to the smaller islands can be rented.