Next Stop, New Caledonia!
The South Pacific is a place that many people only get to experience once in their lives, especially if you are from the Northern Hemisphere. After exploring New Zealand, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the island paradises of the South Pacific. One of those paradises is the land of New Caledonia. This guide will give you all the basics you need to know for planning a trip to New Caledonia from New Zealand.
New Caledonia is made up of five main island groups: Grande Terre being the main island, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago and the Isle of Pines – all having their own remote islands and islets. On the main island alone, there’s a wealth of diverse landscapes and activities from the bustling city of Noumea to the wild south for more wilderness experiences. Beaches, wildlife, food, outstanding accommodations and culture: it’s all there in New Caledonia!
Learn more about the South Pacific islands in our island guides.
Flights to New Caledonia from New Zealand
There a frequent direct flight between Auckland Airport (AKL) in New Zealand and Tontouta Airport (NOU) in New Caledonia. Any flight taken from other New Zealand airports would stop in Auckland. Direct flights take approximately three hours.
Direct flight to New Caledonia from New Zealand are available with the following airlines:
- Air New Zealand
Be aware that the checked-in baggage weight restrictions are usually around 23-46kg (50-101lbs).
When arriving in New Caledonia, be aware that, much like New Zealand, there are restrictions on bringing in plant, food and animal products. Specifically, cheese and processed meat are banned from being imported. Additionally, plat products like seeds, plants and flowers are prohibited unless you have a permit.
Visas for New Caledonia
First things first, to enter New Caledonia you will need a passport that is valid for at least three months after your departure date from New Caledonia. On top of that, you may need a visa depending on what country you hold a passport for.
Visiting for Less Than Three Months
- French passport-holders do not need a visa
- Passport-holders of European Union and European Economic Area member countries, Switzerland and around fifty other countries (Australia, Canada, U.S., Japan, New Zealand, etc.) do not require a visa. See a full list of countries exempt from the short-stay visa at the French High Commission website.
Supporting Evidence for Short-stay
Although not always necessary, all non-French passport-holders should have some evidence of accommodation while staying in New Caledonia, as well as outward travel tickets.
Visiting for More than Three Months or for Working in New Zealand Caledonia
If you plan to stay in New Caledonia long-term or plan to work while you are in the country, you must apply for a visa with the French Consulate or Embassy in your country of residence, unless you are from a country in the European Union.
A Quick Guide to Destinations in New Caledonia
By “quick” guide, we mean quick guide. To give you a brief idea of the breathtaking destinations you can visit in New Caledonia, here’s a list of the highlights. However, for more information to plan your trip, be sure to check out our New Caledonia – Guide for Backpackers.
Noumea is New Caledonia’s capital and the starting point for most trips to New Caledonia. You’ll find the most “French Flare” in the city with cafes, shops and museums to bring a real European vibe to the South Pacific. As an island though, the best of island life is never too far away with beautiful beaches and lagoons for snorkelling, plenty of walking opportunities to soak in the views and more.
Isle of Pines
A 25-minute flight from Noumea is well worth it to discover the sensational wilderness of the Isle of Pines. The sight of trees emerging from the water is a must-see, as are the views from N’ga Peak. There’s the opportunity to relax on the white powdery sands of the many bays and beaches.
Get off the beaten track to this island known as “The Island Closest to Paradise”. You’ll find a wealth of secluded beaches, the most impressive being Fayaoue at 25km (15.5 miles) long.
Mare Island, in the southernmost island group of New Caledonia, is where you’ll get your real cultural experience. Mingle with the locals between days at the beach.
Getting Around New Caledonia
New Caledonia is one of the easiest South Pacific islands to get around. With a good road network, travelling by rental car or by bus is a breeze. Otherwise, to get between islands, you’ll need to take either a boat or a flight.
Getting Around the Main Island (Grande Terre)
Grande Terre and Noumea are the easiest places in New Caledonia to get around offering various transport methods to suit all budgets.
- Rent a car: The road system in New Caledonia is extremely well maintained so getting around by car is one of the most convenient ways to get around Grande Terre.
- Bus: A national bus network will get you to more than 360 stops around the main island on 25 different routes. As for getting around Noumea, the Karuia Bus is the local city bus which will get you around the city in no time.
- Tourist Train: Take this sightseeing transport to see the highlights of Noumea.
- Rent a moped or bike: These are a popular option for getting around Noumea, however, be aware that Noumea is quite hilly so you’ll need to be fit to bike it.
- Taxi: Another quick and convenient transport option in Noumea.
Getting Between Islands
Island-hopping is a way to really immerse yourself in the beautiful island landscapes of New Caledonia. Here are your options to make it happen:
- Flights: The fastest way to travel between islands is by taking a domestic flight. Air Caledonie operates in Magenta airport in Noumea, running flight between the Isle of Pines, the Loyalty Islands (Mare, Lifou & Ouvea) and Noumea. Air Loyaute runs flights between the Loyalty Islands.
- Boat: Another way to get around the islands is by boat. Travel between Isle of Pines, Mar or Lifou on the high-speed passenger boat, Betico.
- Taxi Boats: To visit the off-shore islands of Noumea, there are plenty of private operators taking you in taxi boats to secluded islands.