New Caledonia: Isle of Pines

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There’s no better time to share with you the highlight of our trip around New Caledonia.

It’s a bit cold down here on the south of New Zealand at the moment so thinking about the Isle of Pines makes me feel a lot warmer. Oh, what a beautiful place!

You can get to the island by catamaran or by plane. We took a plane from Noumea and got there in less than 30 minutes. It was a short but nice flight across the lagoon, window seat is what you want.

If you want to go with the catamaran remember to book your ticket as soon as possible.

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Here are top things to do on the Isle of Pines.

Enjoy beautiful weather and be lazy at the white sand beach

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Kuto Beach

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Rent a scooter for a day

A perfect way to stroll around the island is on a scooter. We rented it for a day and it was enough to do a few rounds around the island.

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Taste fresh food

As soon as cruise ships arrive food stalls are at the Kuto Beach. From fresh juices to traditional dishes – this is where you can choose to taste something delicious.

Snails are specialty.

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Walk to the natural pool

The natural swimming pool is an enclosed lagoon located in Oro Bay on the northeast side of the island. Take your snorkeling gear with you.

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Wake up with this view

For us camping is the best way to experience beautiful mornings. There’s nothing better than waking up just a few steps from the sea…

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Trip to New Caledonia won’t be complete if you don’t visit at least one of the islands so make sure to include them in your travel plans. It will make your trip a bit more expensive but it’s definitely worth the money…

 

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New Caledonia: Hienghene Limestone Islets

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Beautiful scenery followed us all the way to Hienghene. It was so nice to drive along the east coast while realizing that landscapes are getting more and more different.

What I really liked along the way are people. Everyone is waving all the time while saying hello as you drive past them. Don’t forget to wave back.

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La Cascade de Tao.

To get to Hienghene you need to cross the Ouaième River by the barge. It takes just a few minutes to get to the other side and the ride is free but donation is always welcomed.  This is the only barge in New Caledonia so try to include it in your route.

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Heinghene is a small commune known for its fascinating limestone islets. Look at this view, it’s amazing!

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What would be the best way to explore this surroundings? With a kayak of course! We stayed at the Babou Cote Ocean camp and it is one more awesome place to put a tent! Again a relaxing spot just a few meters from the beach. Here you can book snorkelig and scuba diving tours as well as rent a kayak. We took a kayak for a few hours and enjoyed every second of it! Perfect way to experience the nature from a different perspective.

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If you don’t want to stay in a camp you can stay at the Koulnoue Village. We went there for a walk and to finish this perfect day with a ‘cheers’!

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Prices:

Babou Cote Ocean, camping site, NZD$20, (1400 XPF, two people a night)

Kayak, NZD$40, (3000 XPF, double kayak, half day)

New Caledonia: On the way to Poingam

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Our stops after Bourail were Kone, Koumac and Poum on the far north.

There are some great beaches along the way, perfect to stop and refresh a little bit whenever you want.

In Koumac we stayed at Gite du Lagun. I have to recommend this place. It is a perfect camping spot and the owner is great. Most of the tourists in New Caledonia are French so a lot of people don’t know a word of english here. The owner of this camp is from Greece and speaks great english. It was nice to finally meet someone who knows the region very well and who can give us a few tips about some of the spots around here.

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The view in the morning… So peaceful.

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Bananas for breakfast!

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Pandop marina, a few minutes from Koumac.

He told us about Caves of Koumac (only around 380 meters or so can be visited, you need a lamp) and Malabou beach, which were on our route.

This beach is stunning! White sand, palm trees all around and a small bar to enjoy the view. One of the best spots on the island.

Just, don’t come here to sunbath because a lot of huge mosquitoes are here to ruin the fun.

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Malabou Beach

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If you want to stay here you can rent a bungalow.

Far north is a bit deserted and there’s nothing much to do so we spent the rest of the day wandering around, not bad at all!

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Northernmost point of New Caledonia.

There are a few camping sites around here and we decided to stay at the Le Relais de Poingam. A dirt road leads to this place and it really was a bumpy ride.

The camping sites are located a few meters from a beautiful beach and it was a nice place to spend a night.  However, some of the facilities weren’t in a good condition.

Travelers like to visit this place because traditional dinner is organised for the guests every night. The restaurant looks great and three course meal is all about local produce.

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Great spot for a coffee or a beer at the camp.

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What I didn’t like about our trip around north region were mosquitoes. A bottle of repellent was enough just for two to three days. And, it didn’t really help! I think those annoying flies are already used to it. Don’t forget to bring some loose-fitting clothing, long sleeves and pants with the material not so close to your skin.

Prices

Gite du Lagun, tent site NZD28$ (2000 CFP, two people a night)

Le Relais de Poingam, tent site NZD$25 (1800 CFP, two people a night). Traditional dinner is organised for the guests every night. It is a three course meal for NZD$50 (3500 CFP).

 

New Caledonia: Things to do in Bourail

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After a few days in Noumea we rented a car and headed up north. The plan is to drive along west coast to the northernmost point and then down the east coast back to Noumea.

Renting a car in New Caledonia is easy and the price is around $60 a day. Remember, they drive on the right side of the road.

The difference between renting a car in New Zealand and here is in insurance. You can’t get full insurance in New Caledonia, there is always an excess fee you have to pay in case of accident. Another thing to note are kilometres which are limited for every vehicle. For unlimited km you’ll have to pay more.

What also surprised me is internet data. There is internet coverage almost everywhere on the island but there’s no pre-paid sim cards with available data. You can buy a sim card but you can use it only for calling and sending texts. If you want to use data you have to take a monthly plan.

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Being without internet made this trip different. We are all used to using GPS, booking accommodation while on the road and checking out some of the spots to visit while we are driving around. This time we had the map and that’s it. I loved it! Let’s turn right here, let’s go left there without knowing what to expect, awesome! Camping sites are well signed so it wasn’t hard to find a place for a tent.

Our first stop was Bourail, about two hours north from Noumea.

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Here are some tips on what to do while you are here:

If you like long white sand beaches (Poe is 17km long sand beach), hiking, horse riding and wandering through nature reserve you will enjoy this place. Some parts here look like deserts and we did feel some of the highest temperatures here, it was around 40 degrees.

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Poe Beach

One of the most popular sights is Deva Domain, which is among the most ancient archaeological sites in New Caledonia.

For those who like to indulge in some of the great activities this domain has 80km of mountain biking tracks, 25km of walking paths and 12km of horse riding trails.

We climbed a hill to check out the view of so called ‘Sharks Fault’. As you can see a deep blue line makes a notch in the lagoon. This former river bed forms into canyon, a place for strong currents and many different species.

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You can take a walk around the resort located at the domain.

One more site worth a visit is Turtles Bay protected site and second best place in the Pacific for turtles to lay their eggs.

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Travel to: New Caledonia

Bourail, New Cledonia

Hey guys!

It’s been a while but here I am back from the trip around New Caledonia. It was perfect! When deciding where to go during Xmas holidays this small Pacific country popped up and there we were standing on those beautiful sandy beaches, strolling around small villages and amazing islands for two weeks.

New Caledonia is still not crazy popular tourist destination and that’s a huge plus. It wasn’t hard to find unique, silent places with beautiful views of the lagoon.

When to go, where to go, how to travel around and what not to miss while in Nouvelle Caledonie you will read here in my next posts.

Happy travels!

Southern Scenic Route: Road trip you can’t miss

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Road tripping in New Zealand is a must. It is definitely the best way to discover this amazing country.

Today I’ll take you on journey between Queenstown and Dunedin. The road is called Southern Scenic Route and it is about 600km long ride you can’t miss.

We are driving around this route pretty often as the road goes through Invercargill and it always lead us to Queenstown or Dunedin for our weekend getaways.

The road is passing through Queenstown, Fiordland (Te Anau), Western Southland, Invercargill, beautiful Catlins, Clutha and Dunedin (Moeraki, Larnach Castle).

We are so lucky to live here as these wonderful places are within short drive from our home.

Let me take you on a ride around ‘one of the world’s great undiscovered drives’, how one magazine labeled it a few years ago.

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Queenstown

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Te Anau, Fiordland

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Clifden

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Riverton

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Queens Park, Invercargill (my favourite place in town)

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Curio Bay

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Purakaunui Falls, Catlins

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Kaka Point

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Dunedin

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Baldwin St, Dunedin, the world’s steepest residential street

There are so many great things to do along the way – short walks, boating, camping, tramping, fishing, mountain-biking – just pick your favourite activity and explore this beautiful part of the South Island.