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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Grande Terre: The Center

North of Nouméa

The 17-km toll road (péage) between Nouméa and La Tontouta Airport saves time, but the old road through Dumbéa and Païta is more picturesque.

The Auberge du Mont Koghi, 20 km northeast of Nouméa, is at 500 meters elevation, five km off the old road to Dumbéa. A dozen well marked hiking trails wind through the majestic rainforest, and there's a splendid walk to the viewpoint on Malaoui Peak (636 meters). One tree in the park is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old. Admission is free. Camping near the restaurant is free if you eat there.

The 18-hole Golf Municipal de Dumbéa is 26 km north of Nouméa, in a river valley surrounded by green hills. It's a kilometer inland from the old highway, but easily accessible on the Dumbéa, Païta, and La Tontouta buses. Greens fees are reasonable but club rentals and chariots are extra. The New Caledonia International Golf Open takes place here in July.

In you have transportation, camping is also possible on Plage d'Enghoué, 19 kilometers off the main highway from Païta on an unpaved road via Tiare. It's quiet and nicely isolated with lots of camping space along the beach, but no toilets or showers are provided, and water is only available from a hose at the caretakers office.

The small settlement on the main highway at the turnoff to La Tontouta Airport includes a large supermarket next to the bank, less than a kilometer from the terminal. A smaller grocery store nearby keeps slightly longer hours and opens Sunday afternoon.

A well-known hiking trail right across Grande Terre begins 400 meters after the bridge over the Tontouta River, six km northwest of the airport. An unpaved mining road runs 17 km up the river valley to the ruins of the Gallieni Mine. Several hours beyond is the Refuge de Vulcain (970 meters), where most hikers spend the first night. The second night is spent at the Refuge du Humboldt (1,380 meters), an hour short of the summit of Mont Humboldt (1,618 meters), second-highest peak in New Caledonia. After visiting the peak in the early morning, one can either return to La Tontouta in a day, or continue east to the Kanak village of Petit Borindi on the east coast. Experienced hikers can complete this memorable trek on their own in three days, using detailed maps and trail guides obtained in Nouméa.

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