New Caledonia Camping Tour – A Great Way To See Grande Terre

For those traveling their way around Australia (or maybe you’re already in the South Pacific region). If your looking for something a little different, and well of the heavy tourist trail of Australia’s east coast. I highly recommend the quick two and a half hour flight from Sydney to Noumea, and a camping tour around the French Overseas Territory of New Caledonia.

New Caledonia Camping TourIn General most people visiting New Caledonia will either stop in at Noumea on a cruise ship, before heading off to the Isle of Pins, or just simply land in Noumea and head straight to their 5 star resorts. Once out of Noumea, accommodation in New Caledonia can be a little scarce, and this is why I recommend a camping tour. With camping the whole island becomes accessible to you, and there is plenty to see and do in New Caledonia.

New Caledonia’s main island or better referred to as Grand Terre, is quite a unique and diverse landscape. From the lush tropical regions of the North East, to the barren oxide colored red earth of the windswept south. On top of all this you can throw in, the worlds largest tropical lagoon (recently UNSECO Listed) that encompasses the whole island. Due to it’s large size, New Caledonia is not your typical South Pacific island, and will require a little more time to see in depth.

Hiring A Car Makes For Easy Camping

If you have a group of two or more, hiring a car in New Caledonia is reasonably priced (all of the major rental companies are available, and hiring is the simple 20 minutes of the usual paperwork). The cost of fuel is comparable to Australia, making a self drive camping tour a great way to see the Island. The hire car of choice, and the vehicle you will continue to see over and over again in New Caledonia, is the small hatch back variety.

Although quite small, we managed to pack a fair amount into our little car. Loaded up with tents, sleeping mats and bags, as well as boxes of fruit and an esky (cooler) full of ice for our perishable foods (ice is available all over the island at the petrol / gas stations, so keeping food cold was not to much of an issue).

Camping Relagis de Poingam

Liza relaxing at the beautiful Reagis de Poingam campsite. You park your car and pitch your tent only a few meters away from the beachfront.

As the Island is part of the French Overseas Territory, the road system for most of the major routes is quite good, and well maintained. Even if you use local transport, the best part about any camping trip to New Caledonia is that the Island is covered from top to bottom with numerous campsites, all with great facilities. In fact I’d go as far as saying, you wouldn’t be able to see allot of New Caledonia if you weren’t camping.

Some of these campsites also have one or two Gite’s (bungalows or fare’s) for rent as well, but they are quite often booked out, and advanced bookings are required. By booking in advance you are then forced to follow an itinerary, but if you have your camping gear with you, it’s easy to move around at will, between the different campsites on the island.

Bring Your Camping Equipment With You

If arriving from Australia or New Zealand, I recommend you bring your own camping equipment with you. There are a few basic outdoor equipment stores in Noumea, but choice is limited and quality is somewhat average.

New Caledonia’s campsites vary from the very basic, to the well established. Some will even have a small restaurant, and most have showers and washing facilities. As you’d expect, you will find the cost will also vary in relation to the facilities provided as well. At some locations you’ll be charged per tent, while at others it the cost will be per person.

New Caledonia - Camping at Poe Beach

Camping at the Poe beach campsite, with New Caledonia's recently UNESCO listed lagoon as your view.

Don’t expect to pay anymore than $7-8 per night (per person) for some of the better camps, and as little as $3-4 for the lower end campsites (there is one exception to this, and that’s on the beautiful ‘Isle of Pins’, where you can pay upwards of $10-12 per person due to it being a heavy tourist area).

A word of warning if you are planning to camp on the Isle of Pines. If you do go over to the island on a weekend, then it pays to book in advance (even at the camp grounds), as spaces are limited and we did find ourselves pitching our tent in somebodies back yard amongst all kinds of rubbish and junk.

My Favorite Campsites in New Caledonia

Relagis de Poingam – Nearly at the northern most tip of Grand Terre. A very relaxing atmosphere with a great beach (although very shallow), and also a quality restaurant if your not self catering. You could get quite comfortable here, it’s a very relaxing place.

Plague de Poe – A great camp area only a couple of hours drive north of Noumea. The campground is surfaced with couch grass, and there’s a nice beach area, to walk and explore.

Gite St Gabriel – In the far south of Grand Terre, this campsite has a great lawn to pitch your tent, and a couple of nice little secluded beaches to explore. The restaurant also serves great seafood.

Your first stop after arrival in Noumea should be to the tourist office, to pick up the latest copy of ‘Campez en Nouvelle-Caledonie’. This brochure is extremely helpful and lists all of the campsites throughout New Caledonia, including their prices and facilities.

We also used a copy of the Lonely Planet guidebook, ‘Vanuatu and New Caledonia’. This book was quite accurate at the time we visited, and worth the purchase. One last thing any great road trip needs and that’s a quality map. We used a French map produced by ‘Institut Geographic National’ and found it to be invaluable when going off the main highways.

Your Thoughts, Comments and Questions

Have you been to New Caledonia? Is there anything else you would like to add? Do you have any other questions regarding a camping tour of New Caledonia. Just post your question in the comments area and I’ll help if I can.


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     About the author

Jason has traveled the world extensively during the last 20 years, with overland journeys on six continents and across over 90 countries. This site serves as a chronicle of the images and tales from these journeys, as well as offering advice and general information for other like minded travelers.

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  • Steve

    What an interesting place to visit this would be. These would be good tips for anyone who wants to see more of New Caledonia than what you see off a cruise ship. Great list of campsites and what to expect when you’re there.

  • Jason

    Hey Steve, New Caledonia is right on the door step of Australia, but when you travel around the island there are hardly any Australians that visit. It’s quite bizarre really. Camping is a great way to see the island, and also makes for a cheap holiday. Thanks for your comment.

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