New Caledonia

Apr 16th, 2019, 05:34 PM
  #1  
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New Caledonia

Air NZ has relatively low fares to New Caledonia at the moment,I think the sale finishes tomorrow!!. My DD when she was gigging on a cruise ship spent a day there every week or so for about three months. She said it is one of the best places she has visited. Just wondering if any Fodorites have been there. I have heard it is expensive food wise. Any thoughts and tips appreciated. Thinking of going August/September.
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Apr 17th, 2019, 04:45 PM
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I've often thought of a trip there too (from Australia) but haven't made it yet. Will be interested to see the responses.

Kay
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Apr 17th, 2019, 05:19 PM
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I don't think anyone has been Kay, I posted this yesterday, no responses!!!
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Apr 18th, 2019, 08:24 PM
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Interesting that it seems to be a place that people don't visit much. I know the cruise ships go there but visiting for a day, or part of a day, is different from a whole holiday. If you end up going, can you please post here and give us your thoughts on the country?

Thanks,
Kay
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Apr 19th, 2019, 08:12 PM
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I’ve been, Nelsonian, and enjoyed it. Friends live there part of the year, but were renovating, so I stayed at Le Meridien (good corporate rates at the time). I had one of my friends’ cars as a run-about and also did a couple of private one day tours “up island”, which was very interesting and got me to areas I probably could not have visited otherwise.

You probably know its interesting history & culture and I do recommend a visit to the stunningly located Cultural Centre - you can take a bus up from the city centre. As you’d expect, a lot of the food has a French influence - and you can have some great Kanak cooking, especially in the villages.

And, if you speak a little French, it’s an asset. Nevertheless, I got by with my 11 words and my well -used phrase, (meaning I’m sorry I don’t speak French, do you by any chance speak English. I have tried 3 times to type the French, but *&%%&%$ auto-correct has managed to mangle it every time. In the interests of not destroying my ipad, I now officially give up)

Of course, it’s always wonderful to visit a place where you have friends, but there’s a lot you can do & see on your own, too. A boat trip out to Isle of Pines is worthwhile & a pleasant way to spend a day. If you scuba, there’s some great diving - I went out on a catamaran for the day & loved it.

I was there in May & the weather was perfect. Warm in the day, a wrap for some of the evenings.

I was there for a fortnight - which was about the right time for me.

Last edited by Bokhara2; Apr 19th, 2019 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Sodding auto correct!
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Apr 19th, 2019, 09:00 PM
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Bokhara - filing away for "close getaway" possibilities - would you say New Caledonia had much to offer for those who weren't particularly up for a lot of time on the water or beach?
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Apr 20th, 2019, 12:17 AM
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For you & the girls - yes. Rent a car & go exploring. I’ll see if I can dig out some of my old notes & email you. It’s one of those places where the layers between “tourist” & “digging deeper” really pay dividends. I spent a day moseying around a village with an old lady, my guide’s aunt. We spoke not a common word, had a wonderful day - and a meal with her nephew & his cousins that I remember with great affection today.

If you’ve been to Vanuatu, there’s a scintilla of similarity between them ... smallish island, interesting cultural mix & history - close enough for us to nip over for a week+ if that’s all you have.
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Apr 20th, 2019, 12:28 AM
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Thanks, I'd appreciate those notes! I haven't been to Vanuatu either, so no basis for comparison. The South Pacific in general is a real blind spot (if you don't include Indonesia) and it would be nice to have a few places on the "maybe list" that are relatively "close". Time hopefully will get a bit better but hasn't yet. The culture and history stuff always tops our list.
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Apr 20th, 2019, 02:49 AM
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Thanks Bokhara, the sale has finished, but another one will come up in the near futureI am sure.
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Apr 20th, 2019, 01:08 PM
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You might find TA more active & useful for info, Nelsonian.
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Apr 22nd, 2019, 02:59 AM
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Nelsonian, I've been to New Caledonia three times, though it's been a while. My husband and I were headed there for a fourth visit in 2011, when, due to fog, we couldn't take off from Dunedin. Because we couldn't get to Auckland, we missed our flight to Noumea and there was no availability on any other flights for the entire week due to the Pan Pacific Games, so we had to cancel the whole trip. It was truly disappointing as we were looking forward to our fourth visit. Now, we try to spend the night in Auckland before having to board a next-day international flight, unless our international flight is leaving after 6 p.m..

Anyhow, I love New Caledonia.Noumea is very French, a clean, modern city with good accommodation, nice restaurants, and the fine beach of Baie des Citrons. There are some offshore islands, among these Amadee and Duck Island, where you can go snorkeling. Noumea's not too large and it's very easy to get around by public bus. There are also hop-on-hop-off tourist "trains" that make stops at top tourist attractions, such as Anse Vata Beach, the Aquarium, Tjibaou Cultural Centre. We enjoyed our visit to Parc Provincial de Rivière Bleue (Blue River Park), which is about an hour from Noumea and home to one of the world's rarest birds, the Kagu (also spelled Cagou). The international airport, Tontouta, is a fair distance from Noumea.

Restaurants can be expensive, but I thought supermarket prices weren't so bad and they carry a wide selection of foods and wines imported from France. In Noumea, you can stay in self catering accommodation to economize.

I wouldn't consider going to New Caledonia without visiting one of the other islands. The easiest one to get to is l'Île des Pins (Isle of Pines), which is 30 minute flight from Noumea's domestic airport, Magenta Airport. It's beautiful, with pretty white sand beaches and wonderful snorkeling (especially at Oro Bay) and great scuba diving. I've been to Isle of Pines a couple of times.

I''ve also been to Lifou twice and Mare once. Lifou, Mare and Ouvea are the largest of New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands. I've not been Ouvea, which is supposed to be the most beautiful of these. The majority of the inhabitants of the Loyalty Islands are Kanaks (the native Melanesians). The islands have escaped extensive development, though I believe cruises often stop at these islands, so they are not exactly off the tourist track. We found Mare pretty special (beautiful beaches and terrific snorkeling) and were headed there for a second time on that fourth trip that never happened due to Dunedin's foggy airport. We'd planned on staying at the same place as before, Nengone Village Hotel. Just days before our planned trip, there were protests in Mare over airfare increases. 4 people were shot

I'm trying to decide between Tonga, Fiji and Niue for a solo trip. I missed out on the Pacific Island sale as well, as I couldn't decide between the three. Been to Vanuatu, Cook Islands (twice), and French Polynesia (twice).

Last edited by Diamantina; Apr 22nd, 2019 at 03:07 AM.
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Apr 23rd, 2019, 03:10 PM
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Thanks Diamantina. For some reason I don't seem to have any desire to visit Fiji or Samoa. I am interested in Rarotonga though and your information re New Caledonia is very helpful. I can see it a place we visit in the near future.
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Apr 23rd, 2019, 03:44 PM
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Rarotonga in wonderful. No need to change currency or learn a new language. It's also more affordable than French Polynesia or New Caledonia. We twice rented a villa on Muri Lagoon. There's a bus that circumnavigates the island so that you can easily get into Avarua to shop or dine. The island is beautiful, lush and green with a volcanic interior. It looks very dramatic as you fly into the airport. If you're a walker, you might be interested in Pa's walk: https://www.pastreks.com/ We never got around to this. We were perfectly happy just relaxing.

On one of our trips we also visited Aitutaki, which is even quieter and where the pace of life is even slower. We atttended a Sunday morning church service and it was lovely to see the locals dressed up for the occasion--and the singing was heavenly. No other word for it. We also did an excursion to One Foot Island while we were in Aitutaki The lagoon there was unbelievable. You could walk straight out for 10 minutes and still be in crystal clear water only up to your knees with fish all around--no need to snorkel to see them. The tour provides a barbecue on the beach and we were also served very fresh Ika Mata, Cook Island's raw fish salad (tuna marinated in lime/lemon and coconut milk, similar to French Polynesia's Poisson Cru). We were also taken to see some rare birds. It's been a while but I think they were either a type of booby or a frigate bird. Given growing conservation concerns, they probably aren't bringing tourists to see them anymore. But it was a memorable trip.

I also bought some beautiful black pearl earrings in Avarua.

Any of these South Pacific islands sound better than winter in Dunedin!


Last edited by Diamantina; Apr 23rd, 2019 at 03:49 PM.
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