Ipswich Trip Advisor
Former QT journalist Helen Spelitis, from Brassall, visited Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. She shares her tips on the French territory.
Who went on your holiday and where did you go?
Myself, my partner and two girlfriends packed our bags and enjoyed a week in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Where did you go and how did you get there?
New Caledonia is a French territory in the South Pacific. We flew Aircalin from Brisbane International Airport, the flight time was just two hours. We picked up the car from the airport and drove straight to our accommodation. Driving can be stressful at first as they drive on the other side of the road but it didn’t take long to adjust. During our seven-day stay we popped over to an island called Ile aux Canards, or Duck Island. It was easy, we just hopped on a water taxi that took less than 10 minutes. The little island was amazing, with breathtaking snorkelling among a healthy coral reef. Deck chairs are laid out with umbrellas and a restaurant offers beautiful food and drinks, so it was a perfect day’s activity.
What were you first impressions?
A laid-back, simple tropical paradise but with a price. Noumea is not cheap and most things cost a little more than they do in Australia, although the things I wanted were cheaper - food and wine. Think chocolate eclairs, fresh baguettes and the most delicious cheeses you’ve ever had, paired with the perfect wine, at an affordable price.
How did you plan ahead?
I searched for accommodation on Airbnb and made sure we would be staying close to the nightlife area. The most important part of planning our trip was organising car hire. A car is the best way to get around on this tropical slice of French-speaking paradise, where the bulk of tourism comes from cruise ships. We waited until we got there to choose some of our activities but the car gave us freedom to explore at our own pace and leisure. I also brushed up on my French to ensure we could communicate easily but if you don’t speak French, that’s OK. A lot of workers in restaurants and bars speak English, some even have stickers out the front to indicate which languages staff speak
What would you do differently?
Not take a vegetarian. No, just kidding - I’m stoked my friends came but I did feel bad for my bestie when there weren’t many vegetarian options eating out. Seafood is in abundance, so this was often offered as a meat alternative, however, my friend doesn’t eat meat at all. She basically lived off fries, bread, and salad (which was sometimes just a bowl of lettuce). If you’re a vegetarian but still want to go, don’t panic. You can always buy what you want from the supermarket, or fresh from the markets, and cook for yourself. If I went back, I would save a little extra cash so we could spend a few days on the Loyalty Islands, these are well known for their natural beauty and idyllic resorts.