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How to get around New Caledonia – Your vacation transport guide

Getting to New Caledonia can be easy but is travelling around as straight-forward?

It sure is!

Join us as we share our recommendations for getting around Grande-Terre (the main island in New Caledonia) and out to the smaller islands.

With shuttles, buses, rental cars, scenic flights and more, you’ll be able to choose the ideal transport solutions for your upcoming vacation.

How to travel in and around New Caledonia

Getting out of the international airport

Rental car

When you leave La Tontouta International Airport, New Caledonia’s international airport, you’ll find the rental car offices to your right.

With half-a-dozen rental car companies – most well known, a few lesser-known – you’ve got a number of choices.

We booked in advance, and found Point Rouge to be the most affordable option.

Our car was modern, well presented and comfortable and we were checked in quickly.

Driving on the road in New Caledonia is easy. The roads are in great condition (often better than in New Zealand!) and there are lots of painted arrows to remind you to stay on the right-hand-side of the road.

Though the roads are great, don’t be afraid to venture onto paper roads to explore. This was an official road!

Though many people won’t need a rental car in New Caledonia, we wanted the freedom when we headed to our resort to the north.

If you’re just headed for Nouméa or to one of the outer islands, there’s probably no need.

Shuttle into Nouméa: Arc en Ciel

Again, turning to the right as you leave the international airport, you’ll notice the big red and white buses.

Arc en Ciel provides transfers in and out of Nouméa, including to the domestic airport (on buses and mini-vans – both of which they term ‘shuttles’).

These can be booked in advance or on arrival.

The international airport is located a 40-minute drive north of Nouméa.

Did you know? Other companies offer shuttles into town, inluding Les Mouettes, Go Shuttle and Allo Transports, however they require advance bookings. For this reason, we’d recommend hopping onboard with Arc en Ciel.

Taxi/Rideshare

We did not notice any traditional taxis or rideshare available at the international airport, so don’t turn up expecting to be able to hail a ride on-the-go.

However, it is possible to book a private transfer in advance to many parts of the island, or you can preorder a taxi.

On another day, you might be fortunate to find a taxi, but from our observation, don’t count on it.

Getting around Nouméa

Bus

Nouméa (and the wider area) is well connected by a modern bus network called Tanéo.

Purchase tickets on the bus (using cash) or at one of the few kiosks in town:

  • Taneo Commercial Agency – Maison du Néobus, Place de la Moselle (the main city stop)
  • Taneo Commercial Agency – Pôle d’échange de Desmazures.

At the time of our visit, trips covering two or more zones cost XPF 300 per person (per journey).

If you plan to use the bus a lot, you might like to pick up a ‘Pass Journée’ to make getting around more affordable.

Tickets can be purchased from the driver, using cash.

Tchou Tchou Train

The Tchou Tchou Train is a fun (if touristy) way to see some of the main points of interest in Nouméa.

With commentary in both English and French, this two hour tour covers Ouen Toro lookout point, Promenade Vernier, Faubourg Blanchot (with its colonial roots), Place des Cocotiers (with a 30 minute stop), Lemon Bay and Anse Vata Beach).

The train itself is comfortable, with open-air carriages to keep you nice and cool.

If you’re keen, check in advance as the Tchou Tchou Train doesn’t run every day of the week (and it only departs once, in the morning, on each of those days).

Rental car

If you have a rental car, you can use it to get around Nouméa city.

As the city is well-connected with buses, however, most people do not need a rental car specifically for this part of their trip.

Taxi

We found a taxi waiting outside the Nouméa Magenta (domestic) Airport, which we were very grateful for, as other transport there was pretty limited – the only other easy option looked to be a bus, which was a 5 minute walk away.

It cost us XPF 1,600 (NZD 24/USD 14) to get a taxi to our hotel in Nouméa.

Drivers here use a taxi meter so it’s easy to check that you’re getting a fair price. Our driver was polite and took the most direct route.

He didn’t have credit card facilities but waited while we got cash out from the airport ATM – so be prepared with some cash.

Once in Nouméa town, we saw a few more taxis around.

Travelling between islands in New Caledonia

Many visitors to New Caledonia choose to venture off the largest island (which is known as Grande-Terre) to Isle of Pines (or Île des Pins, as it’s known locally) or the Loyalty Islands.

To get to these beautiful spots, you’ll want to fly or use a boat.

Domestic flight

If you plan on flying within New Caledonia, you’ll need to make your way to Nouméa Magenta Airport – about a 45 minute drive (45km) from the international airport – found very near Nouméa.

Pro tip: You can use a hire car or shuttle (both mentioned above) to get to the domestic airport.

Air Calédonie and Aircalin fly to Isle of Pines and Maré, Lifou and Ouvéa (in the Loyalty Islands).

Air Loyauté provides additional flights within the Loyalty Islands (though travellers would be less likely to take these flights).

Flights are relatively quick and very convenient.

Ferry

If you’d prefer, it’s also possible to travel to some of the smaller islands by sea.

Betico 2 have modern, high-speed boats which are a great alternative to flights for budget travellers.

The sea can be rough sometimes though, and the journey is much slower (compared with flights).


And there you have it, an introduction to getting around New Caledonia.

Happy planning!

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