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努美阿 is a beautiful and unique city in its own right. Situated at the southern end of the largest island in New Caledonia, Grand Terre, 努美阿 is both the capital and the countries major port. As a result, 努美阿 is also home to much of the countries heavy industry. A significant portion of New Caledonia’s GDP comes from nickel mining on Grand Terre, an exported product that goes through the port in 努美阿.

Heavy industry on the outskirts of Noumea
Heavy industry on the outskirts of 努美阿

As a result, 努美阿 is nothing like the other ports frequented by cruise ships in New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Noumea outside Gare Maritime
努美阿 outside Gare Maritime

For the Australian’s, 努美阿 is kind of like Newcastle. There is mining related heavy industry, and the CBD is very tired, but at the same time, there are gorgeous beaches and sights nearby. Amedee Island, Baie des Citrons (Lemon Bay)Ile aux Canards (Duck Island) are some that you have probably come across on shore excursions at 努美阿. We’ve been here four times now and have done all of the shore excursions that we thought looked interesting, so most recently, we decided to hire a car and head out of 努美阿 for the day.

We booked a car through Amarante via Explore New Caledonia. This website is operated by resa.nc, a New Caledonian tourism reservations company. The Explore New Caledonia website is in English and is targeted at the overseas market, particularly 澳大利亚, 新西兰 and the USA.

All the major car companies have depots in 努美阿, however, Amarante has the closest depot to Gare Maritime. This was important to us because if we could not arrange a pickup/drop off somewhere near the cruise terminal, then we would have to walk to their depot. The only one closer is Noumea Beach Cars, located right outside the cruise terminal. The problem with them though is that they only operate electric Nos-Moke’s which have a range of 80-100km’s, not enough for our day trip.

Amarante has a depot at 34 Rue de la République, 750m from where you get off the cruise ship, or where the bus drops you off if you are transferring from the working port. Most P&O ships are small enough that they typically dock at Gare Maritime. 皇家加勒比 ships all dock at the working port. Princess and Carnival vary. Don’t search Google Maps for that address though; it’s in the wrong place. They are further up the street, here:


This article is all our own experience. Everything we did was paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!


Just before I jump into the itinerary, if you’ve done something similar, or live in 努美阿, what are your must-see sights are on a day trip from 努美阿? Let me know in the comments at the end!

Now, let’s get into the itinerary.

Map Overview

The details

  • Length: 353 km’s
  • Typical driving time: 4.5 hours return
  • Recommended time allowance: 6-7 hours
  • Destination: Poe Beach



  • Base Rental Cost: 4,445 XPF including taxes for a small car, ours was a Peugeot 108
  • Pick up/Drop Off at the cruise terminal: 750 XPF
  • Additional KM’s above 150/day: 28 XPF per KM over 150 approx 5,684 XPF based on this itinerary
  • Fuel: Variable

Costs are based on our booking and will vary.


A drivers license is required, and an international driving permit is highly recommended. The Australian Automobile Association states that an international driving permit is required for Australian’s driving in New Caledonia (more information).

For us, the people we dealt with at Amarante spoke and read English and did not require an international driving permit to process our booking. However, this is not always the case. Not everyone in 努美阿 speaks or reads English, and if you get pulled over by police they will likely require the permit in addition to your Australian license.

Your payment will typically be sorted out by credit card, including a deposit that is reversed upon the return of the vehicle. Credit card payment is a requirement if you pick up / drop off at the cruise terminal. You will also need a credit card or cash to pay for fuel unless you opt to return the car as is and pay the rental companies rates for refuelling.

What you will see

Head from 努美阿 to Tomo, Bouloupari, La Foa, and finally to Poe Beach. If you have time, head into La Roche Percee and see Bonhomme de Bourail on the way. Make your way back to 努美阿 and if time permits, pick up something sweet from Les Petits Choux patisserie.

The landscape of Grand Terre has a lot of similarities to 澳大利亚, right down to red earth.

The red hills of Grand Terre

As you head out of 努美阿, scrubby bush is waiting for you. The further out you go, the more variety you will see, including some rainforest-like areas as well as mountains and the ocean.

Driving out of Noumea
Driving out of 努美阿

In this itinerary, you will pass through some of the nearby small towns like Tomo, BouloupariLa Foa on the way to Poe Beach.

Chapelle de Tomo, Grand Terre New Caledonia
Chapelle de Tomo, Grand Terre New Caledonia


The town of La Foa
The town of La Foa

Once you get back into 努美阿, you should have enough time to stop in at the Les Petits Choux Patisserie for a little treat. This bakery makes fantastic pastries and is well worth the pit stop before returning to your ship! Chances are, there will still be a line towards the end of the day so keep an eye on the time.

Some of the treats you could be tasting at Les Petits Choux Patisserie
Some of the treats you could be tasting at Les Petits Choux Patisserie


Things to keep in mind

Whether you choose Amarante or another 汽车租赁 company, they may be late, or may not be there at all. We arranged with Amarante to pick up and drop off at the 努美阿 Visitor Information Centre next to Gare Maritime at 10:00 am on the 6th of February (our cruise only docked at 9 am).

Noumea Tourist Information Centre
努美阿 Tourist Information Centre

We confirmed this multiple times beforehand, including writing it out as the 6th of February. Upon our arrival, no one was there. One of the ladies at the information centre helped us out and called them up. It turned out that in spite of multiple confirmations, they had us booked in for the 2nd of June instead. So make sure to double check your confirmed date. Our last email to them was about three months before our arrival, so I would also send them an email just before your cruise to re-confirm and if you happen to have the internet on board the ship, email them the day before your arrival as well. It delayed our departure by 45 minutes, which was enough that we didn’t get as far as we wanted to. Remember, your time is limited, so you don’t want it wasted!

In New Caledonia, you drive on the right side of the road. For Australians and New Zealanders, this is the opposite side of the road. The road rules otherwise are quite similar, and while you certainly don’t need to speak or read French, you will need to make sure you have international drivers permit with a French translation.

This itinerary primarily follows RT1, Route Territoriale 1, the main highway that runs from one end of Grand Terre to the other. This road is sealed and is mostly very smooth, but it is predominately single lanes once you get out of 努美阿. So, make sure to watch the time,  you can safely get quite a distance away during your day here, but you never know when you might get held up by an accident or heavy traffic on your return. You need to make sure you leave plenty of time to get back to 努美阿, refuel the car and return it. Plus, once you get back to 努美阿, you want to have enough time to try out Les Petits Choux Patisserie if you haven’t been there before!

The speed limit on RT1 is 90km/h outside of the towns so that you can get along quite quickly. I’ll be honest; most local drivers will pass you as they tend to do more in the 100-110km/h range.

Don’t forget

If you’ve done something similar, or live in 努美阿, I’d like to know what your must-see sights are on a day trip. Let me know in the comments below.

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Noumea is nothing like the other ports frequented by cruise ships in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. There is a lot of heavy industry here from mining, but head out of the city for the day and beauty awaits!

《Noumea 1-Day Road Trip From A Cruise Ship》有4条留言

  1. We did something similar but went through a private tour company and with six of us it wasn’t much more expensive, however for someone who worked the ships and was in Noumea there isn’t much to see apart from country. There is much more diversity by staying within a 5 kilometre range of the city

    • Hey Brendan, thanks for the comment. That’s true, outside of the city, most of what you will see is countryside, for us, we enjoy seeing what different places are like, for others, it won’t be that interesting. The big challenge around Noumea is that a lot of the sights outside of the city are pushing the boundaries of how far you can get in a day trip. From what I understand, heading out the Eastern side of Noumea is quite different country from the North/West. That’s where we’ll be headed next time.

  2. 你好
    We want to hire a car from Amarante as well. I have already contacted them and I am waiting for the answer. You mentioned that they accept credit cards, how about debit cards?

    • Hi Maggie, as long as it is a Visa/Mastercard scheme debit card then yes, you should be fine. However, deposits do take longer to be returned to debit cards than credit cards, this is a limitation of debit cards so I’d always suggest using a credit card if you can for anything where a deposit or bond might be taken. I know it frustrates some people when the deposits take a while to come back onto debit cards but unfortunately this is a limitation of those kinds of cards. Otherwise, if your debit card is only an Australian EFTPOS card (doesn’t have a Visa or Mastercard logo on it), then no, you won’t be able to use it. I hope that helps!





Matt in Noumea

Matt专职从事数字营销业务, TerraMedia。不过,在业余时间,他喜欢和妻子一起旅行,所以他们通常都会做很多事情。

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