New Caledonia Flag

New Caledonia Travel Guide

Ponerihouen Valley, Grande Terre
Ponerihouen Valley, Grande Terre.

Northeast Coast

Vicinity of Houaïlou

The winding road from Bourail follows sparkling rivers and crosses the Col de Roussettes (381 meters), a pass named for the big red fruit bats of the region. The border between north and south provinces runs along this ridge. There are good views along the way, especially of the abandoned Kanak taro terraces.

At the Coula River, 35 km north on the road to Houaïlou from the junction of the west coast highway, there's a road upstream to a viewpoint over a large waterfall (keep right). Thirty km farther east is a bridge over the Houaïlou River, with the road to Poindimié across the bridge to the left and Houaïlou town one km to the right.

The riverside town of Houaïlou, four hours from Nouméa by bus, was the base of the famous Huguenot missionary Maurice Leenhardt from 1902 to 1920. Leenhardt taught the Kanaks to read and write, and Ajië, the language spoken around Houaïlou, is still one of the most widely used Kanak languages on Grande Terre.

In a pinch you could camp free on the wild, deserted beach adjacent to abandoned Houaïlou airstrip (aerodrome). The paved access road is two km north of the bridge, then it's another two km to the beach (go around the south end of the airstrip). There's plenty of driftwood for campfires here, but this site is very exposed to the wind and sea.

Continue to   Northeast Coast: Up the Coast   »