Frequently Asked Questions
Useful information to help you get the most out of your holiday to New Caledonia
Here you will find most of the New Caledonia information that New Zealand visitors will need to know, as well as answers to the most common questions and some very helpful suggestions. Information about New Caledonia Weather, New Caledonia Accommodation and so much more!
Q : How far is New Caledonia from New Zealand
A: New Caledonia is located approximately 2.5 hours flying time from Auckland.
Q : What is the time difference?
A : 1 hour behind New Zealand time ie, midday in NZ is 11am in New Caledonia 2 hours during daylight saving.
Q : Are vaccinations required to visit New Caledonia?
A : No vaccinations are required for people traveling from New Zealand. Nouméa also has modern medical facilities if required.
Q : Are Passports and visas required to enter New Caledonia?
A : No visa is required for New Zealand passport holders for stays of up to three months. A valid passport and onward or return airticket are required upon arrival.
Q : What duty-free drinks / food can I take into New Caledonia?
A : For visitors over 18 years of age, the duty free allowance for alcoholic beverages into New Caledonia is 2 litres of still wine plus 1 litre of spirits/liqueurs (more than 22%) or 2 litres of spirits/liqueurs (more than 22%). Like other islands in the Pacific, no primary or dairy foods, fruit and vegetables or raw meat products are permitted into New Caledonia. Processed or tinned foods are generally allowed.
Q : How do we get from Tontouta airport to Noumea?
A : Tontouta International Airport is located approximately 50 km from the city of Nouméa and is connected by a modern road, now including multi-lane freeway sections. At Tontouta Airport, shuttle buses or mini-buses (indicate price: approx xpf 2,800 p.p (NZ$38) and taxis offer regular transfer services to Nouméa in 50 minutes.
Car rental is also available.
It is recommended to organise bus transfers or hire a car prior to arrival in New Caledonia. If you decide to hire a rental car and drive yourself, there is a road toll 150 XPF on the way to the city so you should make sure you change some money at the airport to cover this.
Q : What currency is used in New Caledonia?
A : New Caledonia uses the French Pacific Franc (XPF) and the average exchange rate currently is approx NZ$1 = 50 XPF (as at December 2008). Foreign currency and traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at most hotels and banks. Major international credit cards are accepted, with the exception of Bankcard. ATM machines are readily available and accept NZ Eftpos cards.
Q : What is the weather like in New Caledonia?
A : New Caledonia is described as ‘the land of eternal spring’ and boasts a pleasant tropical oceanic climate all year round, which is neither too hot nor too cold. It is also a sunny country, with Nouméa enjoying 212 sunny days per year.
The warm season is from September to March with temperatures averaging between 25-27 degrees Celsius. The cooler season is from April to August with temperatures averaging 20-23 degrees Celsius, however water temperatures remaining warm throughout the year. The wetter months, as in tropical regions, are from January to March.
Click here to view the current weather in Nouméa
Q : What clothing should we take?
A : New Caledonia enjoys a pleasant and temperate climate making light clothing appropriate. For the cooler nights (in the winter months), we recommend a couple of sweatshirts or similar, and casually elegant dress wear if you are planning to go out to some of the wonderful restaurants, night-spots or casinos in Nouméa. If you plan a trip to the islands, take a pair of old sport-shoes or rubber shoes to walk on tracks and reefs.
Q : What is Accommodation like in New Caledonia?
A : New Caledonia offers a vast array of accommodation options from 5 star hotels to simple rural lodgings. You can view a list of recommended accommodations by clicking here.
Q : Do people speak English?
A : French is the national language of New Caledonia, although there are approximately thirty different Melanesian languages, including the following dialects: Drubea, Nengone, Drehu, Orowe, Neku, Faga Uvea. Most people involved in the tourist industry, as well as many locals, speak English (and also Japanese) and a majority of tourist brochures are written in English. Of course, a few phrases in French are always welcomed by the locals. We suggest you approach people with a friendly ‘bonjour’ (good day) or ‘parlez-vous Anglais?’ (Do you speak English?). You’ll find New Caledonians are very friendly.
Q : Is the electricity the same?
A : The current in New Caledonia is 220 volts AC 50 cycles, which is suitable for New Zealand 240 volt appliances. However the electricity sockets are the European type, which is different to the New Zealand three-prong type. Some hotels offer both European and New Zealand sockets, but it is advisable to take an adaptor, which is readily available at New Zealand international airports.
Q : Is the tap water safe to drink?
A : Yes, the tap water is safe to drink. New Caledonia also produces its own local bottled water which is excellent quality.
Q : Is New Caledonia an expensive destination?
A : New Caledonia is an affordable destination, however it may not appeal to the budget traveller. Some of your preferred New Zealand products might be more expensive because of import taxes, but local products and French products can be surprisingly inexpensive – often cheaper than in New Zealand. Many holiday packages now offer a selection of pre-paid meal plans and air passes, which can help you make considerable savings.
Q : Is food and dining expensive?
A : New Caledonia offers an enormous choice of dining options. There are around 150 restaurants and cafes in Nouméa alone, catering for all tastes and budgets In fact, cuisine in New Caledonia is as varied as the people. Seafood platters, authentic French cooking, Italian, Indonesian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese or traditional Melanesian cuisine. There is even a McDonalds.
For a little variety, why not explore the modern supermarkets to gather an inexpensive picnic selection of freshly baked baguettes, quality meats, smallgoods, French cheeses, tropical fruits and other delicacies? Inexpensive wine and beer are also available at supermarkets. Another alternative is the Nouméa market where local produce like coconuts and tropical fruits is sold alongside delicious fresh seafood.
Q : Is the beer expensive?
A : No. A wide range of Australian, New Zealand and international beers are available (but they do attract an import tax). To get the best value we suggest you try the popular local beer which is called ‘Number One’.
Q : Is wine expensive?
No, as in New Zealand you get what you pay for. The range of French wines available is amazing and also very good value. You can by a bottle of good French white or red wine from a supermarket for under $10 and a bottle of quality French champagne for around $50.
Q : Am I expected to tip?
A : No, there is no tipping required.
Q : Is the shopping good?
A : New Caledonia is renowned for its designer label shopping, including a range of toiletries and perfumes not available in other Pacific countries. Souvenirs, foodstuffs and wines should also be on the visitor’s shopping list.
Q : Can I use my mobile phone in New Caledonia?
A : Yes, the international roaming system as available from Vodafone New Zealand is available in New Caledonia. Subscribers to this network can benefit from the same advantages in New Caledonia and can also use their mobile telephone on the local Mobilis network. Please check with your Vodafone provider to ensure you have roaming set up on your phone before you depart. And telephone cards are sold at newspaper kiosks.
Q : How can I best experience the many contrasts that Noumea has to offer?
A : The Capital City of Nouméa has many wonderful attractions for you to experience, but there is a lot more to discover on Nouméa’s doorstep. There is so much to see and do just a short drive north and south of the city, that you can easily do in just one day.
Or you can take a day trip to some of the nearby islands – Ile aux Canards (Duck Island) is only a few minutes away by water taxi (this costs approx $12 per person for the return trip with children under 5 years free) or the famous Amédee Island is an excellent activity-packed day excursion on a large cruise boat including lunch and entertainment. Water taxis also operate to other outlying islands.
Q : Can I drive around the main island in one day?
A : The mainland of New Caledonia is 500km long and 50km wide. Visitors should allow around four days for a fly/drive itinerary. The Isle of Pines and Loyalty Islands are much smaller and accessible by domestic airline.
Q : What are the roads like to drive?
A : The roads and road network are in excellent condition and well signposted. In New Caledonia, cars are driven on the right side with left hand drive vehicles. But this is easy to master and adds a touch of Europe to your holiday. A current driver’s license is required to rent a car.
Q : How can I get to the Outer Islands?
A : The Isle of Pines and Loyalty Islands are among the most beautiful and unspoilt in the Pacific and are easily accessible by air from Nouméa’s Magenta domestic airport (which is located only 10 minutes from the heart of the city) flying with Air Calédonie or by water on the high-speed catamaran Betico.
They can be visited in as little as a day, but you will wish you had stayed longer.
The Isle of Pines is just a short 20 minute flight, with several flights every day, or 2.5 hours on the catamaran.
The Loyalty Islands are only 45 minutes away by air, with flights every day, or around 4 hours on the catamaran.
Q : What is the Air Pass and how do I buy one?
A : We suggest you buy an Air Pass. The domestic airline Air Calédonie offers an Air Pass for use by international passengers that allows you to discover several destinations at preferential rates, including several of the beautiful smaller islands in New Caledonia.
It is available only to non-residents with an international air ticket, visiting New Caledonia for no more than three months.
Ticketing for the Air Calédonie Air Pass is handled by Air Calédonie agencies, by local approved agencies and by IATA travel agencies or via the internet Click here for more information.
Q : Are there any international golf courses in New Caledonia?
A : New Caledonia has three international golf courses: Tina International Golf Course in Nouméa, Dumbea International Golf Course (10kms from Nouméa) and Ouenghi Golf Course (1 hour’s drive north of Nouméa).
Q : Can I surf in New Caledonia?
A : Yes and the two best spots are: Ilot Ténia which is in front of Moindou, about one hour from Nouméa and Bourail – Roche Percée – which is about two hours from Nouméa. You will also find good surfing at Poum in the far North of the mainland.
Q : Is New Caledonia good for wind surfing and kite surfing?
A : Fanned by excellent tradewinds, New Caledonia is an international drawcard for windsurfers and kite surfers, with world championships for both having both been held in Nouméa. You can regularly catch the locals demonstrating their spectacular aerobatics on the bays around Nouméa, but you don’t need to be an expert and lessons are readily available from beginners to advanced levels.
Q : Postal Services
A : The New Caledonia Post and Telecommunications Office (OPTNC) has branches located throughout the Territory with a network of 50 agencies and shops. In general, a letter posted in New Caledonia takes approximately three days to reach New Zealand. Postal stamps, telephone cards and first day covers are very colourful and well illustrated and are greatly sought after by stamp collectors and tourists. The New Caledonia Post and Telecommunications Office was world champion for philately in 2003.
Q : Telephone Communications
A : To phone New Caledonia from New Zealand, dial 00, followed by the country code 687 and then the local number.To phone overseas from New Caledonia, dial 00 followed by the country code after the tone, then the area code (without the zero) and the number required. For example to call Auckland it would be 0-64-9- and then the number.A :
Another less expensive way to phone overseas is through internet. To do this you dial 19 followed by the country code – after the tone you add the area code (without the zero) and the number required. For example to call Wellington it would be 19 – 64-4- and then the number.