Get closer to what you love

Written by: Reuben Wickstead

Soak up the sunshine in New Caledonia and enjoy its beautiful blend of cultures and cuisines which make for a sublime holiday.

ONE COULD SCARCELY IMAGINE a more alluring travel destination than France, with its sophisticated culture, breathtaking scenery and fabled culinary prowess. But for even the most intrepid Kiwi, the 20,000km, 24+ hour flight to reach this European utopia can prove more than slightly discouraging. Such a jet lag and joint-pain inducing journey can seem almost akin to madness when some of the world’s most enchanting tropical destinations lie just a stone’s throw away. If only there was a way to combine the comfort and convenience of the South Pacific with the cultural refinement of France. Well, as luck would have it, less than a three hour flight from Auckland lies just such a place: New Caledonia.

Governed by France for almost 150 years, the island nation’s deep-seated ties to its colonial homeland remain acutely central to its own cultural identity. The amalgamation of this enduring French influence and New Caledonia’s tropical island climate has created one of the world’s most unique and diverse cuisines, featuring dishes that seamlessly incorporate the elegance and technical mastery of captivating French cooking with a variety of fresh and exotic local Pacific ingredients.

But the fruits of this country’s distinctive cultural blend do not end there; the island’s architecture also reflects its fascinating parallel influences. Visitors can witness architectural testimonies of the country’s early French colonial military standards as well as its early 20th century Art Deco-inspired amelioration. Some of the jewels in its architectural crown include a number of luxurious hotels and resorts, a reflection of New Caledonia’s more recent modernist development and hotspots to access some of the incredible wellness activities the island has to offer.

It almost goes without saying that New Caledonia also features a plethora of stunning landscapes. Just a few nautical miles from the coast, the main island is encircled in an almost unbroken line by the second longest barrier reef in the world (behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), sheltering a breathtaking 24,000km2 lagoon. Just beyond the vibrant reef lies hundreds of beautiful islands and islets waiting to be explored, most notably the four islands to the East that make up the Loyalty Islands Group: Lifou, Maré, Tiga and Ouvéa.

Not to be outdone, the inland of New Caledonia is no slouch either, boasting a breathtaking twin-peaked mountain range that bisects the main island. To the West of the mountains, yellow and brown-hued vegetation create a savannah-like aesthetic; an exciting contrast to the more lush, tropical aesthetic of the Eastern side of the island.

With all of these distinctive flavours, sights and experiences, New Caledonia truly embodies the mantle of a ‘dream destination’. No matter what kind of holiday you’re after or interests you enjoy, this Francophonic paradise is sure to offer endless opportunities to get closer to what you love and enjoy a truly sublime break.


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