New Caledonia, – June 2014

A quick two-week winter getaway beckoned and we decided on New Caledonia as our destination – not too far away; a French-speaking country, so the illusion of being in Europe; tropical climate and varied landscapes; the 2nd longest barrier reef in the world; and a much-needed break from routine.

It was a great choice! We were able to self-cater most of the time and found some nice places to stay (there’s not a lot of accommodation in some parts of the island). Our “splurge” was two nights at Le Méridien Ile des Pins (on the Isle of Pines, a short flight from Nouméa), which is as close to a tropical paradise as you can get.

We spent quite a bit of time in and around Nouméa, and hired a car to see much of the rest of the “Grande Terre”, the main island, which is over 400 km long and 50 – 70 km wide. We found a lot to interest us in the history, indigenous culture, flora and marine life, and found the locals mostly friendly and helpful. We did some walks, lazed on beaches and spent quiet evenings. The day trip to the reef at the Amedée lighthouse was a good high point to end the trip before flying back to our rather chilly homeland.

photo Photos

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Just in case you needed reminding where New Caledonia is! Not the greatest map, but it'll do. It shows the reefs surrounding the main island (La Grande Terre) and the main roads. it's the second longest reef and the largest lagoon in the world, they say. View from the headland of Anse Vata beach - always lots of water sport action happening. The aquarium - beautifully presented. Delicate corals - gorgeous colours. and some very cute fish! Cruise liner docked at the Gare Maritime, Noumea. The city is spread around many bays. "Case" (pronounced "cars", the French word for that type of Melanesian hut) in the grounds of the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre. The chief's hut always stood out, being higher and topped by a decorative spire. The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, inspired by Melanesian architecture. View inland to the east from our hotel on Anse Vata beach. Outside dining area at Le Meridien, Ile des Pins, our "splurge" for a couple of days. The pool and the bay - gorgeous! We drove around the island, which is very small. This is the church in Vao, the main town. Old convict buildings, fallen into disrepair. Convicts were exiled to New Caledonia from France between 1864 and 1897. Kanumera Bay - the rock is sacred. The bay of Kuto. Sunset at Kuto Bay. La Piscine Naturelle (the natural swimming pool) near the Le Meridien resort, surrounded by the pines that give the island its name. They grow best near the sea in old coral  rock. La Piscine Naturelle is alive with fish and a snorkeller's delight. Le Meridien beach seen from the water. Back in Noumea. Every day is market day! The seafood is amazing! Les Chutes de la Madeleine, a waterfall and botanical reserve southeast of Noumea. The mineral-rich soils are a deep red and not very fertile, but there are unique and interesting plants here, many found only in New Caledonia. Unusual bell-shaped flower, Chutes de la Madeleine. A lichen growing around the bases of the shrubs - looked like cotton or snow from a distance! The landscape viewed from our picnic shelter. Coastal walk north of la Roche Percee, near Bourail. Our little car, Michou, heading across the top of the island from west to east. Michou did have a small encounter with a rock at some roadworks and came out of it with a distinct rattle! Fortunately we found a kind mechanic to straighten him out the next day. The east coast - totally different landscape from the west, but still sheltered by a reef. Steep mountains close to the shore, more frequent rivers and NC's highest peak at over 1600 metres. Evidence of a bushfire on the slope here. La Poule Couveuse (the broody hen) at Hienghene. Lots of limestone features in this region. Our little hut at Koulnoue resort (an old Club Med) near Hienghene. More rocky outcrops. The beach at Koulnoue at low tide. There are atolls and islands dotted along the edge of the reef. Inland scene on the road back across to Kone. Lovely forest. The cagou, NC's flightless bird. Early morning light from outside our hotel room, back in Noumea (different hotel). Day trip to Amadee Lighthouse, leaving Noumea. The elegant lighthouse. A turtle seen from the boat near the island. Deadly banded coral snake- we saw heaps. You'd have to stick your finger down its throat to be bitten, fortunately. Shark near the reef, attracted by the French bread or the fish feeding? View from the top of the lighthouse (251 steps!) View from the bottom of the lighthouse. Au revoir Nouvelle Caledonie! View south towards Noumea.

Posted on July 4th, 2014, tagged with events

3 responses to “New Caledonia, – June 2014”

  1. Nadia says:

    amazing piccies!!! sounds like u had a great time 🙂 🙂 xo

  2. Erica Booker says:

    Thanks Kath and Pete for you usual fantastic pics. Brendan and I honeymooned there in 1984 ad at that time the Ile ded Pines was closed due to political disruptions. We instead went to Ouvea which had had the hotel burnt down by the Kanaks and we stayed in ‘temporary’ but really terrific and trad little bourees. I think the Kanaks now have total control of ouvea and there is no tourism allowed. The gorgeous pics of that sea and its inimitable colour bright I back so many memories. Love your information I too – thanks lots. Love E xxx

  3. Trevor says:

    Great photos. You covered a lot of the main island it seems as well as the fabulous Ile of Pines. Brings back fond memories of my first posting 1974-76 (I lived in Anse Vata very near to your first apartment hotel)and then a return trip with Pirjo in 2008 for our 25th wedding anniversary. We we stayed in La Promenade (the middle block), the same apartment hotel as you did.