Dangers & Annoyances

In general, New Caledonia is very safe for travellers.

  • Always check that you’re not walking or swimming in a taboo area, or on somebody’s property.
  • Along the coast or in the water, be aware of the various venomous sea creatures.
  • When swimming, snorkelling or diving, don’t underestimate the sea’s current.
  • New Caledonia is in a cyclone zone (from November to April) and experiences earthquakes and tsunamis. See www.meteo.nc for more information.

Embassies & Consulates

Embassies and consulates are in Noumea. There is no US embassy in New Caledonia. The embassy responsible is in Suva, Fiji.

Australian Consulate

Dutch Consulate

New Zealand Consulate

UK Consulate

Vanuatuan Consulate

Emergency & Important Numbers

Ambulance15
Fire18
Police17

Entry & Exit Formalities

Customs Regulations

  • People over 17 years arriving from Europe, Africa, America or Asia may bring in 1000 cigarettes, 2L of wine and 1L of other alcohol.
  • People over 17 years arriving from Oceania (including Australia) may bring in 200 cigarettes, 2L of wine and 1L of other alcohol.

Visas

To verify the latest visa requirements, check the French government website for New Caledonia: www.nouvelle-caledonie.gouv.fr.

  • EU, Canadian, US, Australian and NZ citizens are allowed entry into New Caledonia for three months without a visa.
  • Some visitors, including citizens of Japan, are allowed entry for one month without a visa.
  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least three months longer than your intended stay and that you have an onward ticket.

LGBT Travellers

Homosexuality is legal in New Caledonia but, while there are some open-minded establishments, there are no specifically gay bars.

Insurance

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. Check that the policy covers ambulances and emergency flights home.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Most hotels offer free wi-fi access, sometimes in guests’ rooms and usually in the lobby. Internet cafes are few and far between. Places where you can get online in the Loyalty Islands are limited. Try the big resorts on the islands for wi-fi access for your laptop or smartphone.

Maps

In Noumea and Anse Vata the Office du Tourisme has good free maps of New Caledonia and detailed maps of specific regions.

Marine charts can be purchased at Marine Corail.

Media

  • Newspapers Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes (www.lnc.nc) is the daily newspaper. New Caledonia Weekly (www.newcaledoniaweekly.nc) is a free English-language paper with information about what’s on and helpful details for tourists.
  • Radio Radio Nouvelle-Calédonie (http://nouvellecaledonie.la1ere.fr/radio) is the national radio service. Other radio stations include indigenous station Radio Djiido (www.radiodjiido.nc); Radio Rythme Bleu (www.rrb.nc); Radio Océane (www.oceanefm.nc); and NRJ (www.nrj.nc).
  • Television Télé Nouvelle-Calédonie (http://nouvellecaledonie.la1ere.fr) has one local channel, plus a number of French channels; all programs are in French. NC.TV (www.nctv.nc) is New Caledonia's first indigenous television station. Canal Satellite (www.canalplus-caledonie.com) offers a network of pay channels.

Money

  • The currency is the Pacific Franc (CFP), also used in French Polynesia and Wallis & Futuna.
  • The 5% services tax is usually included in displayed prices.

ATMs

  • Most banks have ATMs that accept major credit cards.
  • There are ATMs around Noumea and other major towns and villages – though some are only accessible during the bank’s business hours.
  • Each of the Loyalty Islands and Île des Pins has at least one ATM.

Credit Cards

  • Credit cards are accepted by hotels, restaurants, large shops and airline offices in Noumea, but not at budget places outside the capital.
  • There’s sometimes a surcharge.
  • Don't expect to use them in too many places on the islands.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$196 CFP
CanadaC$192 CFP
Europe€1119 CFP
Japan¥100119 CFP
New ZealandNZ$175 CFP
UKUK£1148 CFP
USAUS$195 CFP

For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.

Money Changers

  • Banks change money and travellers cheques.
  • All major currencies are accepted, including US, Australian and New Zealand dollars, and euros.
  • You can also change Vanuatu vatu.

Tipping

A tip is always accepted but it is not common practice.

Opening Hours

Hours may vary, especially in rural areas and outer islands. Sundays are extremely quiet throughout the islands.

Banks 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday

Cafes 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday

Government offices 7.30am to 11.30am and 1.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, some on Saturday mornings

Post offices 7.45am to 3pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants 11am to 2pm and 7pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday

Shops 7.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings; some close for lunch

Photography

It’s polite to ask before taking photos of people and tribal buildings.

To help get the best out of your camera, get hold of Lonely Planet’s Travel Photography. Written by internationally renowned travel photographer Richard I’Anson, it’s full colour and is designed to be taken on the road.

Post

  • Poste restante is available at the main post office in Noumea. To receive mail there, use the following address: Poste Restante, Noumea RP, 9 rue Eugène Porcheron, Noumea, New Caledonia.
  • Local SIM cards and IZI telephone cards are sold at post offices around the country.

Public Holidays

New Caledonia follows France in all its major public holidays.

New Year’s Day 1 January

Easter Monday March/April

Labour Day 1 May

Victory Day 8 May

Ascension Day (40 days after Easter Sunday) May/June

Whit Monday (The eighth Monday after Easter) May/June

Bastille Day 14 July

Assumption Day 15 August

New Caledonia Day 24 September

All Saints’ Day 1 November

Armistice Day 11 November

Christmas Day 25 December

New Year's Eve 31 December

Smoking

  • Smoking Illegal in enclosed public spaces, including restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Also banned in schools, hospitals, universities and public transport. Advertising of tobacco prohibited.

Telephone

There are no local area codes in New Caledonia. The international country code is 687. For directory assistance dial 1012.

Mobile Phones

  • Local SIM cards cost 6195 CFP and include 3000 CFP credit; buy these from post offices (you need identification).
  • Make sure you buy the correct recharge card (Liberté; 1000 CFP), which is available from post offices and tobacconists’ stores.
  • For assistance, dial 1000 (free call).

Phonecards

  • Use IZI cards (1000/3000 CFP) to make local and international calls from a public phone box, a landline or a mobile phone.
  • Available at post offices around the country and some tobacconists' stores.

Time

  • GMT/UMT plus 11 hours, one hour ahead of Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
  • Daylight Savings Time (DST) is not used.
  • New Caledonia uses the 24-hour clock; when written, the hours are separated from the minutes by a lower-case letter ‘h’. Thus, 13h30 is 1.30pm, 20h15 is 8.15pm and 00h45 is 12.45am.

Toilets

  • Temporary public toilets, signposted as toilettes or WC, are plentiful in Noumea, including on the beachfront at Anse Vata and several in Place des Cocotiers.
  • There are public toilets at the gare maritime (boat terminal).
  • It’s best to use the toilets in snacks (inexpensive cafes), restaurants, (most) shops and supermarkets.

Tourist Information

The main visitor information office is the Office de Tourisme in central Noumea. There are also branches at Anse Vata and at Tontouta International Airport, and you'll find small visitor information centres on the islands. Good websites include:

Loyalty Islands (www.iles-loyaute.com)

Office de Tourisme (www.office-tourisme.nc)

Tourism New Caledonia (http://visitnewcaledonia.com)

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures Metric system.

Women Travellers

Generally women travellers should have few problems getting around solo in New Caledonia. As in any place, of course, it is best to be cautious if you are on your own.

Work

Non-French citizens need a residency permit and a work permit to work legally in New Caledonia. There is a lot of paperwork involved in getting these permits. You can inquire through the Bureau des Étrangers in Noumea.