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New Caledonia Travel Guide

Parc Forestier

Visit this botanical garden and zoo five km northeast of downtown to see the flightless and rapidly disappearing cagou (Rhynochetos jubatus), New Caledonia's official territorial bird. The excellent ornithological collection also includes the rare Ouvéa parakeet. There are a few mammals, of which the flying foxes stand out. Allow two hours to see the birds and animals, and another two to study the plants, many of which are labeled. The garden is open Tuesday to Sunday.

You can get to the Parc Forestier by taking the white-line or violet-line buses to the Cité Pierre Lenquette low-cost housing complex at Montravel, then walking 1.5 km uphill. Otherwise it's a 35-minute walk from the Nouméa Youth Hostel. Follow the ridge road north, turn up the signposted road beside the Notre Dame du Pacifique statue, and go past the three towers of the Centre Récepteur Radioelectrique. Keep heading toward the huge light blue tower with two circular terraces on top.

There are many excellent scenic views along the way, especially from the light blue telecommunications tower on Montravel (167 meters), accessible up a steep road just before you reach the Parc. Amédée Lighthouse is visible on the horizon south of the summit, just to the left of Ouen Toro. To the northeast the twin peaks of Mt. Koghi (1,061 meters) dominate the horizon, while due east the oval profile of Mont-Dore (772 meters) stands alone. Closer in, just on the far side of Magenta Airport, is the Tjibaou Cultural Center. Two orientation tables indicate points of interest. You also get a good view of the apartment blocks of Cité Pierre Lenquette.

The Barrier Reef

Amédée Lighthouse, on a tiny island 18 km south of Nouméa, was prefabricated in Paris and set up here in 1865 to guide ships through Grande Terre's barrier reef. At 56 meters high, it's still the tallest metal lighthouse in the world, and you can mount the 247 steps. Several companies offer day trips to Amédée which include a glass-bottom boat trip, barrier reef cruise, shark feeding, Polynesian music, and a buffet lunch. These trips are prominently advertised in all of the tourist brochures and it's an easy way to get a taste of the Lagoons of New Caledonia UNESCO World Heritage Site.