Exercise normal safety precautions in New Caledonia. Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media for changes to local conditions.
- Use common sense and avoid any demonstrations. Large public gatherings of this nature can turn violent. See Safety and security
- On 27 December 2018, local health authorities declared a dengue epidemic across the entire territory of New Caledonia. Confirmed cases are highest in the metropolitan area of Greater Noumea. Protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses. See Health
- Cyclone season is normally from November to May but tropical storms, cyclones and associated flooding can occur at any time of the year. Bushfires are a risk, especially from September to February. See Natural disasters
- Security incidents can happen with little warning, particularly on the RP1 road through to the south-east, between Noumea and Mont-Dore. Road blockages, car-jackings, stone-throwing and shootings are infrequent but can be dangerous. RP1 and other major roads can be closed without warning. See Safety and security
- Industrial relations and political disputes can create localised tensions and cause disruptions to transport and the supply of essential services. Monitor developments and plan accordingly. See Local travel
- Medical costs in New Caledonia are very high. Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance, including for any pre-existing conditions. In recent years, several Australians have been evacuated from cruise ships to hospitals in Noumea. Many insurance claims made by cruise passengers have been refused. See Health and Cruises
Entry and exit
If you are visiting New Caledonia for tourism and you have a return ticket, you generally won't need a visa. In other circumstances, you'll need a visa.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France. Visit the website of the French
Consulate-General in Sydney or contact an
Embassy or Consulate of France for up-to-date information.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the nearest
Australian mission for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The local currency is the Pacific Franc (XPF). Declare all amounts in excess of 10,000 Euro or equivalent on arrival and departure. Some service providers and commercial establishments accept Australian dollars. You can exchange Australian dollars for XPF at banks and authorised currency exchange offices.
ATMs and credit cards facilities are available in Noumea and other major centres. Take a sufficient supply of cash if travelling in remote areas.
Safety and security
Civil unrest and political tension
Use common sense and avoid any demonstrations. Large public gatherings of this nature can turn violent.
Serious roadside security incidents can happen with little warning. Road blocks, car-jackings, stone-throwing and shootings are infrequent but can be dangerous. Major routes have been affected, particularly the RP1 road to the south-east, between Noumea and Mont-Dore, and the highway north from Noumea to Tontouta International Airport. Local authorities can close RP1 and other major roads without warning.
- Avoid all demonstrations, protests, large public gatherings and roadblocks.
- Monitor the news and other sources for advice of possible unrest, protest locations and road blocks. Avoid those areas.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Serious crime is rare but you could encounter petty crime and theft. Car theft and vehicle break-ins are increasing. Drink spiking can occur, leaving victims more vulnerable to theft and assault.
- Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
- Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
- Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
- Take care of your belongings, especially in crowded places.
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times.
- Don't leave food or drinks unattended, particularly in bars and nightclubs.
- Never accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or new acquaintances.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
Terrorist threat worldwide
Industrial relations and political disputes can result in disruptions to transport and the supply of essential services. Monitor developments and plan accordingly.
Tours and adventure activities
The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including for adventure activities such as scuba diving, are not always met. Recommended safety precautions and maintenance standards may not be followed. Safety equipment such as lifejackets and seatbelts may not be provided.
If you plan to participate in adventure activities, first talk to your travel insurer to check if the activity is covered by your insurance policy. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment before booking. Don't be afraid to ask about or insist on minimal safety requirements. Always use available safety equipment, even if others don't. If appropriate safety equipment is not available, use another provider.
The road toll in New Caledonia is high. You're four times more likely to die in a road accident in New Caledonia than in Australia. Drivers may be unlicensed or intoxicated and vehicles can be poorly maintained and uninsured.
You could encounter road blockages, car-jackings and stones being thrown at your vehicle. These incidents are infrequent but can be dangerous. See
Safety and security.
- Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving in New Caledonia.
- Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
- Drive defensively and legally.
- Keep your car windows and doors closed and locked at all times.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If stones are thrown at your car, leave the area as quickly and safely as possible.
New Caledonian Department of Infrastructure and Land Transport website (in French) or contact a
French Embassy or Consulate for information on driver's licence requirements in New Caledonia.
Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.
To hire a taxi, visit a designated taxi rank or make a phone booking. Book your taxi well in advance – long delays are common. Taxis can't be hailed from the street. Payment is by cash only.
Bus services operate throughout Grande Terre. On other islands, public transport options are very limited.
Passenger ferries operate from Noumea to Île des Pins, and to Maré, Lifou and Ouvéa in the Loyalty Islands. A number of international cruise lines stopover in New Caledonia.
In recent years, several Australians have been evacuated from cruise ships to hospitals in Noumea. Many insurance claims made by these cruise passengers have been refused. Medical costs in New Caledonia are very high. Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance, including for any pre-existing conditions.
If you plan to travel on a cruise ship:
- check the on-board medical facilities are adequate for you
- understand the costs of medical treatment on-board
- understand that Medicare benefits may not be payable for journeys between an Australian port and a foreign port or between two foreign ports
- take out travel and medical insurance appropriate to your circumstances, including coverage for all your pre-existing medical conditions and for medical evacuation. See
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.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
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.
New Caledonia is an overseas territory of France. A mix of French and local laws apply.
Travel advice for France
Penalties for drug offences, even possession of small amounts, include fines and imprisonment.
Carrying or using drugs
By law, you must carry identification at all times.
French laws that allow for same-sex marriage apply in New Caledonia. However, outside Noumea, same-sex relationships are not widely accepted in New Caledonian society.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
Staying within the law
Outside of tourist areas, there are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in New Caledonia. Take care not to offend. Visits to certain areas require prior authorisation from the customary authorities, through engaging in 'coutume' (customary acknowledgement).
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
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 your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel
Always carry a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
On 27 December 2018, local health authorities declared a dengue epidemic across the entire territory of New Caledonia. Confirmed cases are highest in the metropolitan area of Greater Noumea.
dengue fever, zika virus and
chikungunya occur from time to time, particularly during the warmer and wetter months of the year. The Australian
Department of Health advises pregnant women to discuss any travel plans with
their doctor. Consider deferring
non-essential travel to Zika virus-affected areas.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
- take measures to avoid insect bites, including always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- if you're pregnant, discuss your travel plans and possible health risks with your doctor before you travel
- seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Small outbreaks of leptospirosis are common. More serious outbreaks occur from time to time, particularly after periods of heavy rainfall.
Local authorities recommend you:
- wear closed-in shoes when walking
- avoid swimming in rivers
- don't play in muddy water
- store food in enclosed containers
- don't drink straight from cans (use a straw instead)
- remove rubbish from around your home.
Leptospirosis (World Health Organization)
Other infectious diseases
Outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including scabies and conjunctivitis) occur from time to time. Town tap water is generally safe to drink.
- Maintain strict hygiene standards.
- Don't ignore symptoms such as itchiness and skin lesions.
- In rural areas, boil all drinking water or drink only bottled water.
More information (including health alerts and notifications):
The standard of medical facilities in New Caledonia is high but 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. Main public hospitals are located in Dumbea (Hôpital Gaston Bourret at the Koutio Médipôle) in the Southern Province, and in the Northern Province in Koumac (Hôpital Paula-Thavoavianon), Poindimié (Hôpital Raymond Doui-Nebayes) and one recently opened Koné (Pôle Sanitaire du Nord).
Medical costs are very high. An intensive care bed in New Caledonia could cost in excess of A$5,500 per day. Ambulance transfers, even for short distances, can cost over A$1,250. A helicopter evacuation to within New Caledonia costs over A$6,500.
If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to Australia. Medical evacuation from New Caledonia to Australia can exceed A$40,000.
There is only one hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in New Caledonia. It is 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. Make sure your insurance covers whatever activities you plan.
New Caledonia experiences cyclones, severe weather, flooding, mudslides, earthquakes, tsunamis and bushfires. The
New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management leads responses to natural disasters and severe weather. In case of a natural disaster or emergency, a crisis management centre with a free-call hotline +687 050505 will be activated.
If a natural disaster occurs:
- secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
- closely monitor local media,
Meteo-France in New Caledonia (in French) and other sources such as the
Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
- follow the advice of local authorities
- contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
Stay up-to-date on weather conditions and forecasts, natural disaster watches and warnings throughout your stay in New Caledonia and plan accordingly. Monitor local and regional weather and disaster sites:
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.
Flooding, landslides and disruptions to infrastructure and essential services can occur. Tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months. The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.
If there is a cyclone or severe tropical storm, you may not be able to leave the area: flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended, and available flights may fill quickly. Access to sea ports could also be affected. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available for all those who stay.
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.
If a cyclone is approaching, follow the advice for all natural disasters above and:
Once the cyclone has passed, and SAFEGUARD PHASE has been announced:
- take care leaving your shelter
- look out for debris
- avoid electrical wires which may have fallen.
Flooding and mudslides
Heavy rains can cause dangerous flooding and mudslides. These can result in deaths and injuries, destruction of property and the evacuation of inhabitants.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
New Caledonia experiences earthquake and tsunamis. Tsunamis can arrive within minutes of a nearby tremor or earthquake occurring. There is a higher risk to the east coast, Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines.
On 5 December 2018, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit near New Caledonia. A tsunami alerts was issued and later lifted. There were also a number of strong aftershocks.
Real-time information on earthquakes can be found on the
US Geological Service website.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center provides real-time information on tsunamis in the region.
If there is an earthquake, follow the advice for all natural disasters and:
More information: Earthquakes
New Caledonia can be affected by bushfires. Typically these occur from September to February but they can also occur in other months.
Bushfire notifications on Meteo NC are available from 15 September to 15 February each year.
New Caledonian Department of Emergency Management
- Look and listen out for bushfire warnings.
- Follow the advice of local authorities.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, 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.
Emergency phone numbers
- Fire: 18
- Medical emergencies: 15 or go direct to the medical centre or hospital
- Police: 17 of contact the nearest police station or gendarmerie
- Maritime emergencies: 16 or radio on VHF 16 – Inmarsat - MMSI
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
In New Caledonia, the New Caledonian Directorate of Economic Affairs (Direction des Affaires Economiques) and the New Caledonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de la Nouvelle-Calédonie) may also be able to assist.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Consulate-General in Noumea.
Australian Consulate-General, Noumea
11 rue Georges Baudoux
Artillerie, Noumea, New Caledonia
Phone: (687) 27 24 14
Consular assistance email:
Australia in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna
Australian 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, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.