Bush walk: Long Hilly Walking Track

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Spending time in the bush is one of my favourite things to do around New Zealand.

What I like the most about these beautiful places are sounds of the birds twittering, murmur of the wind breaking through the tree crowns and the colours of this amazing nature touched with warm sun rays.

Last weekend we went for a stroll around the Long Hilly Walking Track. It’s a nice place and a short walk not far away from Invercargill and just a few minutes from Colac Bay.

We definitely didn’t walk fast and it took us around one hour to do the loop walk even though at the entrance to the bush it was written that it takes 2.15h.

This place once was the southern most and largest Chinese mining settlement. The gold was discovered in the area back in 1870s and still along the way you can see historic sites related to gold mining operations.

 

 

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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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Sun is shining in Noumea

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Want to wake up here and have this view right in front of you? You just need to visit New Caledonia!

As a special collectivity of France in southwest Pacific Ocean this small island is a true piece of Europe in the middle of nowhere.

Hot summers with a sea temperature of around 26 degrees was one of the reasons why we chose this place as our holiday destination.

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Another thing I liked while reading about New Caledonia is that it’s not so crowded as other islands around here. In a way it’s not discovered yet and that’s what made it so attractive.

We flew from Auckland and it took us two and a half hours to get there, how great is that! We landed in Noumea, biggest town on the island. And I have to tell you it’s much bigger than we expected.

It took us around 45 minutes to get to the city centre from the airport. I’m going to give you one advice now – don’t take ‘Arc en ciel’ shuttle bus. There is a public transport which cost 280 XPF. It was Sunday evening when we got there and we had to take that shuttle which cost us 3000 XPF one way per person! More than ten times higher price!! Crazy, but we didn’t have a choice.

Many tourists in New Caledonia spend most or all of their time in Noumea (don’t do that). It is a great place, with beautiful sandy beaches, bars and restaurants along the coast and many places to visit on a day trip.

Duck Island.

A few things to note; New Caledonia is not a cheap place to go to. It depends a lot what kind of traveler you are. In Noumea we stayed in a backpackers and while traveling around the island we were camping so for us the accommodation wasn’t expensive. Interesting thing is that there is only one hostel in Noumea and there’s no camping grounds in the vicinity so our options were limited for the time spent in the city.

The view from our room in the backpackers. Beautiful!

When it is about buying a food, prices in supermarkets surprised me a lot. It’s more expensive than here in New Zealand. It’s almost cheaper to eat in a restaurant than to buy a meal for two in the supermarket. Other options for a quick delicious (cheaper) meal are small shops called Snack. You will see during lunch breaks in Noumea how busy those shops are when everyone rush there to grab a bite.

One thing I like to do when visiting other countries is stopping by at the market. The market in Nouma is open from Tuesday to Friday from 5am to midday. You can buy there delicious local fruit and veggies. It is located beside the marina at Port-Moselle.

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City centre is very busy until early afternoon. Everything close early in Noumea and everyone move from hot sunny streets to the beach. In case you are planning some shopping do it in the morning.

There’s not much going on in the centre in the evening, all the happenings are at the Anse Vata beach. It is the most vibrant part of Noumea and everyone is there.

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Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square)

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City centre Christmas Festival at the Coconut Square.

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Anse Vata beach.

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One of the resorts in Noumea is called Le Meridien and you can walk there from Anse Vata beach. Great thing about the resorts in New Caledonia is that you can use their facilities even though you are not staying there. This resort has a great bar on the beach under the palm trees, perfect to hide from the sun a little bit.

Many day trips are available from Noumea, a lot of them go from Anse Vata. With a taxi boat you can get to the small islands close to town or you can take catamaran to the Amedee Lighthouse. There are only one or two companies which offer this trip to the lighthouse so you need to pay the whole package (from 15000 XPF), you can’t just pay for the boat ride.

We went to the Duck Island, it is just 10 minutes with a taxi boat from Noumea. It is a nice place for a half day trip. People come here to snorkel and gear is available for rent but it’s better to bring your own. There is an underwater trail you can follow to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have in mind that there’s no a lot of shade on the beach.

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Ile aux Canards (Duck Island)

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First three days in New Caledonia went fast and it was time for us to hit the road around the island. More tips in my next post!

Happy traveling!

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!