The coastline northwest from Hienghène features towering mountains with slopes falling right to the sea, empty beaches with fine coral just offshore, numerous high waterfalls clearly visible from the road, and deep green-blue rivers full of small fish such as you've never seen before. This is also the most traditional area on Grande Terre, with the greatest number of cases.
On the main road just north of Hienghène, stop for the excellent view from the Col de Tanghene. The church of the Mission de Waré, 3.5 km north of Hienghène, has colorful stained glass windows. The pavement ends at Tiluny, six km north of Hienghène.
There's a free ferry operating 24 hours a day at Ouaïème, 17 km northwest of Hienghène. A local legend explains that a bridge can never be built here because of a giant who lives up the river. The giant is part shark, and such a structure would block its route to the sea. What's known for sure is that the river is shark-infested, and it's unlikely you'll see any locals swimming here.
Tao Falls is 10 km northwest of the Ouaïème ferry. The falls are clearly visible from the bridge, but a fee must be paid to go to the base of the falls on foot.
It's possible to climb to the top of Mount Panié (1,639 meters), New Caledonia's highest peak, from a signboard two km north of Tao Falls. Guides are unnecessary and there are several shelters on the mountain for hikers. To climb Mount Panié in one day would involve leaving at 0400 and only returning at dusk, so it might be better to spend a night on the mountain. Hikers are supposed to get a permit from the reserve before climbing the mountain and the Hienghène tourist office can organize this in a few hours.
The pavement recommences 28 km northwest of the Ouaïème ferry, and the first grocery store on this road is at Yambé, 50 km northwest of Hienghène. From Yambé it's only 11 km to Pouébo.
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