- We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in New Caledonia.
- Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
- Cyclone season in New Caledonia is from November to April, however, tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months. See under Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for further information.
- Local authorities have declared an epidemic of dengue fever and have issued a health alert for another mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya. Local authorities have dengue fever and chikungunya prevention measures in place. See under Health for more information.
- You should avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest French French Embassy or Consulate for the most up-to-date information.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers .
Civil unrest/Political tension
You should avoid protests and demonstrations as they can become violent. There has been political tension regarding symbols of identity, including the choice of a flag for New Caledonia. You should avoid overt displays of the FLNKS (Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front), French and other local flags.
The incidence of crime is low in New Caledonia. However, petty theft, car theft and break-ins do occur. You should exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority .
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.
See our road travel page.
If you intend to hire a car, motorcycle, jet ski or any other motorised water sport equipment, talk to your travel insurer first to check if you will be covered.
For information on driver?s licence requirements in New Caledonia, contact your nearest French Embassy or Consulate .
Local authorities have raised concerns about the adherence to safety standards by tour operators, especially for adventure sports such as diving and yachting. Check operators' credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities. Many dive companies require participants to have insurance cover for diving.
Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in New Caledonia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. New Caledonia is an Overseas Territory of France and French laws apply. See under Laws in our France Travel Advice for more information. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter .
Penalties for drug offences, even possession of small amounts, include fines and imprisonment.
You are required to carry identification at all times.
French Customs and Border Police operating in New Caledonia are very strict on importation of counterfeit (non-genuine) goods. If found in your possession, the counterfeit goods will be confiscated and you will be fined an amount equivalent to the assessed purchase price of the genuine item. Detection methods include conducting searches of arriving tourists.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years? imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
When travelling outside of tourist areas, you should dress and behave modestly.
Information for Dual Nationals
Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Travelling Well brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
The standard of medical facilities in New Caledonia is good for uncomplicated conditions and treatment. Noumea's central hospital can handle routine and emergency matters but complicated conditions require evacuation to Australia.
Medical and hospital costs in New Caledonia are extremely high. For example, an intensive care bed in Noumea could cost up to A$4,000 per day. Ambulance transfers, even for short distances, can cost A$1,250 or more. A helicopter evacuation from one of the islands to Noumea will cost in excess of A$6,500. An aeromedical evacuation from Noumea to Australia can exceed A$40,000. Passengers on cruise ships are routinely evacuated to Noumea for hospitalisation. Cruise passengers are strongly encouraged to take out travel insurance appropriate to their circumstances.
There is only one hyperbaric (decompression) chamber in New Caledonia, located in Noumea. Many of the popular dive sites are located on other islands and it may take several hours to reach facilities in the event of an accident. Many dive companies require participants to have insurance cover for diving. Regardless, you should ensure that your insurance covers whatever activity you intend to undertake.
Search and rescue facilities are available although limited. The difficult terrain severely limits rapid access and there is no mobile phone coverage across large parts of the main island.
Outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease dengue fever are common, especially during the warm wet months of February to May. On 5 December 2012 the local authorities made a public health announcement declaring an epidemic of dengue fever which remains current as of 30 April 2013. On 29 April 2013, local authorities also issued a health alert for mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya. Local authorities have dengue fever and chikungunya prevention measures in place.
For Further updates on the situation please refer to the website (in French) of the New Caledonian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs .
Given the presence of dengue fever and chikungunya virus, it is strongly recommended you take precautions against mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof. Seek medical advice if you have a fever. For further information see the World Health Organization's factsheets on dengue fever and chikungunya fever .
Small outbreaks of leptospirosis are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time, particularly during March to May. Local authorities recommend wearing closed-in shoes when walking, avoiding swimming in rivers, not playing in muddy water, storing food in enclosed containers, not drinking straight from cans (using a straw is recommended) and removing rubbish from around homes. For information on leptospirosis, see the World Health Organization website.
Town tap water is safe to drink. We recommend that in rural areas you boil all drinking water or drink only bottled water.
Where to get help
In New Caledonia, Australians can obtain consular assistance from the:
Australian Consulate-General, Noumea
7th Floor, Immeuble Foch
19 Avenue du Maréchal Foch
Noumea, NEW CALEDONIA
Telephone (687) 27 24 14
Facsimile (687) 27 80 01
If you are travelling to New Caledonia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the above Consulate-General you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Cyclone season in New Caledonia is from November to April, when flooding, landslides and disruptions to services may occur, however, tropical storms and cyclones may also occur in other months. The direction and strength of tropical cyclones can change with little warning.
If you are travelling during cyclone season, or after a natural disaster, you should contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination are affected. In the event of an approaching cyclone, you should identify your local shelter, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor media and weather reports for the latest developments.
Detailed weather information is published by Meteo-France in New Caledonia . The Fiji Meteorological Service , the Australian Bureau of Meteorology , and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, US Navy also provide regional weather information.
When a cyclone, or potential cyclone, enters the New Caledonia region, the French High Commission in New Caledonia provides alert information to the public on a phone hotline (+687) 26 63 20 (only in French) and the French High Commission in New Caledonia?s website (in French).
New Caledonia has a four-level cyclone alert system: PRE-ALERT (potential cyclone activity in the region of New Caledonia, follow weather forecasts and bulletins), ORANGE (a cyclone may hit New Caledonia in coming hours; all activity should progressively cease during this alert phase, except that which is directly concerned with the maintenance of public safety and security), RED (cyclone is imminent; the population must remain indoors until the lifting of the cyclone alert; all movement is forbidden) and GREY (the period immediately following the passing of the cyclone; this level signifies that not all danger has passed and that public and private agencies are at work, ensuring key services return to normal operation; movements should only take place where strictly necessary). In the event of an approaching cyclone, you should identify your nearest safe location.
Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. The cyclone could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe cyclone may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. Once the cyclone has passed, and GREY alert has been announced, you should take care leaving your shelter, looking out for debris, and avoid electrical wires which may have fallen on the ground. For further information, see our severe weather page.
New Caledonia is in an active earthquake zone. Further information on earthquakes and other natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service .
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. Tsunamis could occur in New Caledonia. There is a higher risk of the east coast, Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines being affected. French authorities have a tsunami warning system in place. Visitors should be alert for warnings. For more information on tsunamis see the Tsunami Awareness brochure .
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
If you are travelling during cyclone season, or after a natural disaster, you should contact your tour operator to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.