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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in New Caledonia. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media for changes to local travel conditions.
  • On 20 November 2017, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck near Loyalty Islands in New Caledonia. Authorities have lifted the tsunami alert. Continue to monitor the media for latest developments and follow instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. See Additional information

  • Cyclone season in New Caledonia normally lasts from November to April, but tropical storms and cyclones may occur outside this period. See Additional information.

  • Security incidents occur in New Caledonia, often arising with little warning. Take particular caution when travelling on the RP1 road through St Louis, south-east of Noumea, which has been subject to occasional but serious security incidents that have caused injury. Closure of the RP1 at St Louis by local authorities can occur without warning. See Safety and security.
  • Epidemics of dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya also occur from time to time, particularly during the warmer and wetter months of the year. See Health.
  • Industrial relations disputes have the potential to create localised tensions and disruptions to transport and the supply of essential services. Monitor developments and plan accordingly.
  • Bushfire season in New Caledonia normally lasts from September to February, but fires can also occur in other months. See Additional information.
  • In recent years, a substantial number of Australians have been evacuated from cruise ships to Noumea for hospitalisation. We are aware of a number of cases where the insurance claims made by cruise passengers have been refused. Medical costs in New Caledonia are high and are not covered by Medicare. Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance for your cruise, including for any pre-existing conditions. Check your travel insurance policy to make sure that you understand exactly what your policy covers. See Health.
  • Avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Australians tourists possessing a return ticket can enter New Caledonia without a visa in most circumstances. Information about visas for New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, can be found on the website of the Consulate of France in Sydney.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of France for up-to-date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Civil unrest/Political tension

There is a risk of demonstrations and protests. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid protests and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities.
 
Security incidents occur in New Caledonia, often arising with little warning. Road-side incidents such as road blockages, car-jackings, stone-throwing and shooting have occurred. Major routes have been affected, including the highway north of Noumea, connecting Noumea with Tontouta International Airport, as well as the RP1 to the south-east, between Noumea and Mont Dore. Take particular caution when travelling on the RP1 through St Louis and, between St Louis and Mont-Dore, which has been subject to occasional but serious security incidents that have caused injury. Closure of the RP1 at St Louis by local authorities can occur without warning.


Crime

New Caledonia has a low incidence of serious crime. Petty crime does occur. Be aware of your personal belongings at all times and do not leave your bags or valuables unattended or unsecured. There is an increasing incidence of car theft and vehicle break-ins.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Partying: When going out to bars or clubs, you should plan your night out and remember simple safety precautions. Be aware that drink spiking can occur. Do not leave food or drink unattended and avoid accepting food or drinks from new acquaintances. See our Partying safely page for tips and advice.

Local travel

Industrial relations disputes have the potential to create localised tensions and disruptions to transport and the supply of essential services. Monitor developments and plan accordingly.

For information on driver's licence requirements in New Caledonia, contact your nearest French Embassy or Consulate or the New Caledonian Department of Infrastructure, Topography and Terrestrial Transport (in French).

Road blockages, car-jackings, and throwing stones at cars continue to occur in New Caledonia (see Safety and security). Follow the instructions of local authorities. In the event of an incident, leave the area as quickly as possible.

New Caledonia's per capita road toll is more than four times higher than in Australia. Drivers may be unlicenced or intoxicated and vehicles may be neither roadworthy nor insured.

See our road travel page.

If you intend to hire a car, motorcycle, Jet Ski or any other motorised water sport equipment, talk to your travel insurer first to check if your planned activities will be covered.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as diving, may not be of the same level as in Australia. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.

Taxis cannot be hailed from the street but only from designated taxi ranks or by making a phone booking. Travellers often experience long delays when booking a taxi. Payment is by cash only; credit cards are not accepted.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in New Caledonia.

For information on aviation safety and security, see our general air travel page.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of New Caledonia, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France, and a mix of French and local laws apply. See our travel advice for France for more information.

Penalties for drug offences, even possession of small amounts, include fines and imprisonment. See our Drugs page.

France has passed laws allowing same-sex marriage, which also applies in New Caledonia. Same sex couples should be aware that other than in the capital, Noumea, New Caledonia is a conservative society. See our LGBTI travellers page.

You are required to carry identification at all times.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Local customs

Outside of tourist areas, there are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in New Caledonia. You should take care not to offend. Visits to certain areas require prior authorisation from the customary authorities through engaging in "coutume" (customary acknowledgement). Please read the brochure on customary acknowledgement in New Caledonia for further information.

Information for Dual Nationals

See our dual nationals page.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation and for any pre-existing medical conditions, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers, and our health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities in New Caledonia is very high. However, in the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to Australia may be necessary.

Medical costs in New Caledonia are high: For example, an intensive care bed in Noumea could cost in excess of A$5,500 per day. Ambulance transfers, even for short distances, can cost in excess of A$1,250. A helicopter evacuation to Noumea will cost in excess of A$6,500. An aeromedical evacuation from Noumea to Australia can exceed A$40,000. When travelling in New Caledonia, you are not covered by Medicare. 

There is only one hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in New Caledonia, located in Noumea. Many of the popular dive sites are located on other islands and it may take several hours to reach facilities in the event of an accident. Many dive companies require participants to have insurance cover for diving. Ensure that your insurance covers whatever activity you intend to undertake.

Search and rescue facilities are limited. The difficult terrain severely limits rapid access and there is no mobile phone coverage in some parts of the main island.

Mosquito-borne illnesses: Epidemics of dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya also occur from time to time, particularly during the warmer and wetter months of the year. Take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes, including using an insect repellent, wearing loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache. Local authorities have dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya prevention measures in place.

Information for cruise passengers

In recent years, a substantial number of Australians have been evacuated from cruise ships to Noumea for hospitalisation. We are aware of a number of cases where the insurance claims made by cruise passengers have been refused. It is essential to declare all pre-existing medical conditions when taking out travel and medical insurance. Medical facilities on-board may not be as comprehensive as in Australia, and on-board medical treatment may incur additional fees. Contact your cruise operator to discuss the nature of the medical facilities and any associated costs on-board your cruise. See our Going on a cruise? page for more information. 

Take out travel and medical insurance appropriate to your circumstances, including adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions, before you embark on a cruise. Read the product disclosure statement to ensure that you understand what your policy covers. See our travel insurance page for more information about obtaining appropriate insurance cover.

Health risks

Small outbreaks of leptospirosis are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time, particularly during March to May. Local authorities recommend wearing closed-in shoes when walking, avoiding swimming in rivers, not playing in muddy water, storing food in enclosed containers, not drinking straight from cans (using a straw is recommended) and removing rubbish from around homes. For information on leptospirosis, see the World Health Organization website.

Outbreaks of contagious infections, such as scabies or conjunctivitis, occur from time to time. Local authorities recommend maintaining strict hygiene standards and being attentive to symptoms such as itchiness and skin lesions.

Town tap water is safe to drink. In rural areas you boil all drinking water or drink only bottled water.

For further information see the World Health Organization's factsheets on dengue fever, chikungunya fever and Zika virus. For updates on the situation in New Caledonia please refer to the website of the New Caledonian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs (in French).

Where to get help

Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the nearest police station, or dial 17 for the police emergency number. Dial 15 for an ambulance.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.

Australian Consulate-General, Noumea

Norwich Building
Level 2
11 rue Georges Baudoux
Artillerie, Noumea, New Caledonia
Telephone: (687) 27 24 14
Website: noumea.consulate.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna.

See the Consulate-General website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Consulate-General in a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities. The New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management has procedures in place for natural disaster and severe weather, such as strong winds and swells, heavy rains, thunderstorms, cyclones, bushfires and tsunamis. Monitor weather notifications and alerts in New Caledonia for advice and up-to-date information. In the event of an emergency, a crisis management centre with a free-call hotline +687 050505 will be activated in New Caledonia.

If you are travelling during cyclone season, or after a natural disaster, contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

Cyclones and severe weather

Cyclone season in New Caledonia is from November to May, when flooding, landslides and disruptions to infrastructure and essential services can occur. Tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months, and the direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.

In May 2017, local authorities issued cyclone 'alerts' throughout the whole of New Caledonia as a result of Tropical Cyclone Donna. Monitor local media for the latest information and follow the instructions of local authorities. In New Caledonia, Alert 2 means 'protect yourself and stay indoors'. Travellers should expect flight cancellations and be prepared for disruptions to their travel plans.

If you are travelling during the cyclone season, contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

Detailed weather information is published by Meteo-France in New Caledonia. The Fiji Meteorological Service, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, US Navy also provide regional weather information. We recommend that Australians in New Caledonia monitor these websites during cyclone season for up-to-date information.

When a cyclone, or potential cyclone, enters the New Caledonia region, New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management and the Meteo-France in New Caledonia provide alert bulletins (in French) on their websites and through regular weather bulletins on local radio.

New Caledonia has a four-phase cyclone alert system:

  • PRE-ALERT: potential cyclone activity in the weather observation zone of New Caledonia – follow weather forecasts and bulletins;
  • ALERT 1: a cyclone is approaching and may reach New Caledonia within the next 18 hours – prepare for a cyclone;
  • ALERT 2: a cyclone will hit New Caledonia in less than six hours – protect yourself and stay indoors; and
     SAFEGUARD PHASE: a cyclone is moving away – remain vigilant.

Further details on the alert system and recommended activities during each level can be found on the New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management website.

In the event of an approaching cyclone, identify your local shelter, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media and weather reports for the latest developments.

Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly.

The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available to all who choose to stay. Review and follow your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. Carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia to reassure them of your welfare and whereabouts. Once the cyclone has passed, and SAFEGUARD PHASE has been announced, take care leaving your shelter, looking out for debris, and avoid electrical wires which may have fallen. For further information, see our severe weather page.

Flooding and Mudslides

Heavy rains may cause dangerous flooding and mudslides to occur, and result in loss of life, destruction of property and the evacuation of inhabitants. If you are in an affected area, monitor media reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Detailed weather information is published in New Caledonia by Meteo-France in New Caledonia (in French).

Earthquakes

New Caledonia is in an active earthquake zone. Further information on earthquakes and other natural disasters can be obtained from the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination system. See our earthquakes page for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.

Tsunamis

Tsunamis could occur in New Caledonia, and you should be alert to warnings as a tsunami can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake occurring. There is a higher risk of the east coast, Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines being affected. Be alert for warnings.

To receive immediate tsunami alerts, you should register with an alert provider. Further information can be found on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, and the Global Disaster Alert and Co-ordination system website.  Consult your accommodation provider about evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning. Further details on the tsunami alert system and recommendations can be found on the New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management website.  

Bushfires

New Caledonia can be affected by bushfires. Typically these occur during the warmest months, from September to February. However, they may also occur in other months. Visitors should be alert for warnings and follow the advice of local authorities. Bushfire notifications are available from 15 September to 15 February each year. Further details on the bushfires notification system and recommendations can be found on the New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management website.

Additional Resources