New Caledonia enjoys a sub-tropical climate year-round, with maximum temperatures averaging between 25°C and 30°C in the warm season from September to March, and between 20°C and 23°C in the cooler months from April to August. Trade winds and occasional cool evenings may require warmer clothes. Rainfall generally passes quickly, although can come in heavy downpours. Sea temperatures in the lagoon range from 21°C to 28°C.
The local currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF), pegged at a fixed exchange rate to the Euro. ATM machines are common throughout Noumea and larger towns. Credit cards and some debit cards are widely accepted. Currency exchange bureaux are located at airports and shopping districts, and an American Express office is located on Bis Avenue.
Visas + passports
Visas are not required for Australian, New Zealand, European Union or United States passport holders for stays of up to three months. A passport with at least six months validity and an onward or return air ticket are required upon entry.
French is the official language. There are about 30 Kanak dialects; however these are spoken only in villages and remoter areas. English-speaking staff is common in hotels, resorts, main restaurants and as tour guides, although it is recommended that visitors learn French greetings and basic phrases.
No vaccinations are necessary to visit New Caledonia and it is free of all other tropical diseases including malaria. Visitors should, however, take precautions against mosquitoes. Noumea offers western-standard medical facilities and emergency air transfers to Australia for the most serious of cases. Tap water is safe to drink and bottled water is readily available.
Casual dress is common by day and in resorts and hotels, although in upmarket hotels guests dress more formally for dining. Light summer clothes are appropriate. Warmer clothes should be taken during cooler months and in case of cool evenings or trade winds.
The international airline of New Caledonia, Aircalin, operates twelve flights per week non-stop from Australia to Noumea, New Caledonia. Flights take two hours from Brisbane, under three hours from Sydney and Auckland and 3 ½ hours from Melbourne.
Sydney flights operate six times a week, whilst Brisbane and Melbourne flights depart three times per week. Flights operate between Auckland and Nouméa five times a week, with three flights on an Aircalin aircraft and two on Air New Zealand aircraft, both in codeshare.
Flights between Auckland and Nouméa operate daily during the summer school holidays.
The international airport La Tontouta is a 45 minute drive from Noumea city centre.