New Caledonia reopens to Australian travellers

The French jewel is finally open, although a recent testing change could still present a challenge.

By Chris Ashton, March 24 2022
New Caledonia reopens to Australian travellers

Grab your diving gear and be sure to pack a healthy appetite, the French-infused Pacific islands of New Caledonia are ready to once again say ‘bienvenue’ to international visitors – and they won’t need to quarantine on arrival.

The New Caledonia Government and France High Commissioner have confirmed, effective immediately, that vaccinated Australian travellers will no longer need to complete seven days of quarantine on arrival, or fill out lengthy forms with a reason to visit.

Snorkelling in the clear waters of the Isle of Pines. Sebastien Lebegue/New Caledonia Tourism
Snorkelling in the clear waters of the Isle of Pines
Sebastien Lebegue/New Caledonia Tourism

Instead, all that’s required is a negative PCR or RAT test prior to arrival, and proof of an approved vaccine less than nine months ago. Approved vaccines in New Caledonia include AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen.

However, in a recent rule change from the original announcement on March 14, which allowed a PCR within 72 hours and RAT within 48 hours, the test must now be done less than 24 hours prior to departure. 

Non-vaccinated travellers will still need to complete seven days of quarantine arrival before they can venture out to enjoy the island vibes.

Just two hours from Brisbane or less than three from Sydney, New Caledonia is often described as a piece of France that broke off and drifted down to the Pacific. Yet it’s much more than that, with traditional Kanak culture, astonishing coral reefs, and a French-Melanesian culinary scene best described as manifique.

New Caledonia is home to fascinating Kanak culture. Sebastien Lebegue/New Caledonia Tourism
New Caledonia is home to fascinating Kanak culture
Sebastien Lebegue/New Caledonia Tourism

Julie Laronde, New Caledonia Tourism’s General Manager, says it is a big day for the French overseas territory. "After more than 2 years of COVID closure, it is a very exciting time and the opportunity to rebuild tourism to New Caledonia. We cannot wait to welcome our Australian neighbours back to our shores!”

Aircalin – the flag carrier of the petite French island collective – is already flying from Sydney and Brisbane to Noumea, with sale fares starting at $529 return.

Aircalin will welcome travellers aboard its A330 aircraft
Aircalin will welcome travellers aboard its A330 aircraft

Flights are now departing twice weekly (Tuesday and Saturday) from Sydney until March 26, when they will ramp up to thrice weekly with the addition of a Friday service.

From Brisbane there’s currently one flight a week on Sundays, with a Friday service joining the schedule from March 27 and Wednesday flights from June 5.

Travellers are in for a treat too, with the flights onboard Aircalin’s new Airbus A320neo from Brisbane and the A330neo aircraft from Sydney. Both offer state-of-the-art seating and HD touchscreens, with an entertainment offering of more than 90 programmes plus inflight WiFi.

Qantas is also ready to bounce across the Pacific too, with flights from Sydney to Noumea aboard its Boeing 737 workhorse resuming on June 4.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 664

Noumea is fine if you remember two things. 1. Stay away from downtown and 2. Be prepared to pay through the teeth for everything from accommodation to a coffee.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1087

Yes, it is a place where you should look for an all-inclusive package.  I stayed at Club Med a few times when it was there and arrived on a cruise ship the other times so have never had to buy much.  Noumea is not a great duty free port either; Port Vila, on the other hand, is brilliant.

07 May 2015

Total posts 30

Sure, it's expensive, but not sure what you mean about staying away from 'downtown'? I have been there and never fely unsafe. Where do you prefer to stay when you are in Noumea, Joe?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 664

Safety wasn't what I was referring to. It's a run down and ugly capitol. Staying at Le Meridian it's a waste of a taxi fare.

21 Jan 2022

Total posts 1

Is there any announcement when Aircalin will return to Melbourne?

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 412

about time.for the last two years as expensive as it is we have during the closure been subjected to overpriced alternatives such as Hamilton Island or Cairns.This is much overdue alternative to say any domestic tropical island destination.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2017

Total posts 26

What's wrong with Downtown?   I've been there a few times and wandered around. Beautiful old buildings. Nice green parks. Lots of interesting things to explore in the back streets.  Great access to the bus network. Excellent local food options and better prices than outside downtown.

I'm more worried about the statement of "...and proof of an approved vaccine less than nine months ago."

For me, I had my booster in Dec 2021... so the nine months is rolling around "soon" (August).    I suspect other jurisdictions will start implementing time-based vaccination requirements too.   So hoping our Aust Govt - whomever they may be come the middle of 2022 - will be up to to the task of managing this in a timely manner for Aust travellers.


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