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by Santorini Dave • Updated: August 30, 2018
What is the best time of year to visit New Caledonia?
- Best Time to Visit New Caledonia: May, June, September, and October.
- Best Time to Visit New Caledonia for Good Weather: May to October.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: May, June, September and October.
- Best Time for Honeymoons: May, June, September and October.
- Best Time for Diving & Snorkeling: June to October.
- Best Time for Outdoor Activities: June to September.
- Best Time for Saving Money: Obviously, avoid the peak seasons. During mid-December to the end of January, as well as July, and especially August, hotel rates rise and flights are often overbooked.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: 2 major factors to take into account when planning a visit. Firstly, although more semi-tropical than its Pacific neighbours, New Caledonia still has only 2 major seasons: the ‘dry’ (May to October) and ‘wet’ (November to April). During the latter, heavy rain is frequent, the humidity can be draining, and cyclones are always possible. Secondly, if feasible, also try to avoid the 2 holiday peak periods. Mid-December to the end of January is when hotels and planes are bursting with Australians and New Zealanders taking advantage of school holidays, and many French people are escaping their winter. And during July and August, hotel rates rise even further as masses arrive from France and elsewhere in Europe.
- Best Time for Diving & Snorkeling: Despite boasting the world’s biggest lagoon, which entirely surrounds all the islands, and 1,600km of reefs (the earth’s second-largest), diving and snorkeling are not huge drawcards – probably because New Caledonia offers so much more to do above the water. Nonetheless, there is abundant marine life, underwater caves and coral gardens to explore, as well as crystal-clear inland pools for snorkelers. Optimal visibility, least affected by rains, waves and winds, is from June to October.
- Best Time for Outdoor Activities: While the weather can affect outdoor activities – whether it’s rough waves that may cancel boat trips (but delight surfers) or calm winds that please kayakers (but disappoint sailors) – the excellent roads and inter-island transport are very rarely affected by winds, waves or rains. Avoiding the changeable months either side of the wet season, June to September are ideal for anything outdoor-y, with day after day of mild temperatures and minimal rain almost guaranteed. But note: hiking in the mountains will always be cold; even literally freezing during the middle of ‘winter’ (July and August).
- Best Time for Beaches: The dry season (May to October) is often referred to by locals as the ‘winter’. Temperatures can drop to a comparatively coolish 20°C during the day and several degrees less at night-time. But sea temperatures remain fairly stable, dropping to about 22°C in the ‘winter’ months of August and September. Some may find the sea more inviting during the wet ‘summer’ (November to April). At this time, the higher temperatures (which can nudge 30°C) are exacerbated by uncomfortable humidity. Obviously, avoid bad weather (particularly lightning), and never forget the sunscreen.
New Caledonia Travel Seasons
- High Season (mid-December to end of January, July and August): From about 15 December to 30 January, and even more so around the Christmas/New Year period, the islands burst with families utilizing school holidays in Australia and New Zealand, and with French people escaping their wintry homeland. The French also visit their beloved Melanesian territory in droves during July, and especially August.
- Shoulder Season (May, June, September and October): An ideal time, avoiding the wet season and changeable months either side, as well as the peak holiday periods for visitors from Australia, New Zealand and France.
- Low Season (November to mid-December, and February to April): The entire wet season, when heavy rains are common, the humidity often unpleasant, and cyclones always possible, but outside of the peak period of mid-December to late January.
New Caledonia Weather by Month
- New Caledonia Weather in January: In the middle of the wet season, with frequent tropical depressions creating heavy rains and strong winds that routinely blow at about 100km per hour. Temperatures can rise to 30°C, but average 26°C in Noumea. Humidity can become uncomfortable, but trade winds which blow for 250-300 days a year help temper this. From November to April, cyclones and associated warnings can easily and quickly affect travel plans. Always be alert – and check the local media, hotel announcements and official website.
- New Caledonia Weather in February: The sticky and rainy weather continues with temperatures sometimes hovering around 30°C, but still averaging 26°C. Cloudy and drizzly days are almost unheard of; in fact, tourism authorities claim there are only 20 days a year without any sunshine. The average rainfall on Grande Terre Island is about 1,700mm a year, far less than Vanuatu, for example, but rainfall does vary considerably: the east coast receives about twice as much as the west. In Noumea, February is the wettest month, but rain only falls on 9 days on average.
- New Caledonia Weather in March: Humidity remains high, as it has for the past few months. The second-wettest month with only marginally less rain than February. Still hot, averaging 26°C but nudging 29°C on some days. The possibility of cyclones remains until the end of April, so always be alert and prepared for delays caused by severe weather. Cyclone Hola blew past in March 2018, and Pam destroyed much of neighboring Vanuatu in March 2015.
- New Caledonia Weather in April: The hot, wet and sticky weather continues, although the official end of the wet season is nigh. A changeable month when rains may linger, but temperatures remain almost as high as the previous 3 months. But the rainfall does start to drop significantly in Noumea.
- New Caledonia Weather in May: An unsettled month as the rain gradually dissipates but the dry season hasn’t fully set in yet. Temperatures drop a couple of degrees Celsius, but it is the humidity that noticeably reduces. Strangely, a little more rain in May than April, but it falls less frequently, so there are more days with nothing but sunshine.
- New Caledonia Weather in June: Many locals refer to the period of June, July and August as the ‘winter’, when cool, mild and dry days continue. Temperatures noticeably fall this month, averaging from 22°C to 24°C during the day – enough for locals to don a jumper or jacket, especially when the mercury dips below 20 at night. Oddly, June is wetter than April and May in Noumea, but there’s a significant increase in the number of sunny dry days per month.
- New Caledonia Weather in July: July and August are the 2 coldest months, with averages of 20°C to 22°C during the day, dropping to as little as 17°C at night. Anywhere near the mountains will be decidedly cold, even freezing after dark. And this month offers the most sunshine: an average of 7 hours per day in Noumea.
- New Caledonia Weather in August: The coldest month with temperatures averaging 20°C, but sometimes dropping to 17°C after the sun sets, so keep a jumper or jacket handy. While perfectly mild and dry for outdoor activities such as hiking, it remains decidedly chilly in the mountains. This is also the peak month for tourists from France, where ironically, it’s probably hotter.
- New Caledonia Weather in September: The lowest rainfall in Noumea, barely 40mm, which is less than one-third of the months in the wet season. Average daytime temperatures of 21°C ensure that locals continue to wear a jumper; maybe even 1 more after dark. Another plus is the reduced number of tourists as thousands of French people reluctantly return home. With the least number of rainy days all year, sea temperatures also remain the lowest at about 22°C.
- New Caledonia Weather in October: A changeable month between the finish of the dry season and the imminent start of the ‘wet’. More rain than September but fewer wet days, indicating that the rain is heavy but infrequent, so there’s still plenty of sunshine. Temperatures range from 19°C (at night) to 26°C (during the day), but average around 23°C, with rainfalls increasing later in the month.
- New Caledonia Weather in November: Although the official start of the wet season, it can still be reasonably dry, with only 5 days of rain and plenty of sunshine across the islands; in fact, this month is not much wetter than August in Noumea. But November is noteworthy for the increased number of rainy days and higher temperatures. Also, this month signals the season (until April) when cyclones are possible, so always remain alert.
- New Caledonia Weather in December: Significant increase in the number of rainy days and amount of precipitation per month, starting a period until March with more-or-less the same rainfall and temperatures. The threat of possible cyclones increases, and also a very busy time as Australian, New Zealand and French tourists arrive in droves.
New Caledonia Holidays, Events and Festivals
- Citizens of New Caledonia enjoy public holidays decreed by the local government and French administrators.
- New Year’s Day (1st) – celebrated by everyone with a public holiday.
- Duck Island Crossing (changeable) – annual swim across the calm waters to Île aux Canards (Duck Island) from Anse Vata (Noumea).
- Mardi Gras (changeable, late February) – dancing, music, parades, food and games in Noumea. Especially for children (and far more conservative than events with the same name in Sydney and elsewhere).
- Sacred Festival of the Yam (changeable, mid-March) – observes the start of the harvest of this important food crop, with blessings to the gods across many tribal regions.
- Easter (changeable, March/April) – celebrated throughout the islands. Some facilities close for 4 days, while Easter Monday is a public holiday.
- Fine Print Fair (first 2 weeks of April) – local and foreign artists showcase etchings, lithographs, silkscreen prints and carvings. Around Anse Vata (Noumea).
- Heifer Fair (changeable) – horseracing, livestock auctions and musical performances. A taste of the outback, including beef on spits, at Koumac in the far north of the main island.
- Giant Omelette Festival (changeable, April/May) – music, dance, beauty pageant, handicraft stalls and the chance to eat some of the Giant Omelette. For 2 days during the second weekend after Easter. In Dumbéa, just north of Noumea.
- Burlesque Festival (changeable, mid-April) – cabarets with international artists in Noumea and other places nearby.
- Noumea International Triathlon (changeable) – tough but scenic event around the bays of Noumea.
- Avocado Fair (late April, and sometimes early May) – 3-day celebration of the end of the harvest. On Maré (Loyalty Islands), where avocados are especially tasty. With dancing, music, and of course, eating the namesake fruit.
- Labour Day (1st) – public holiday, with cultural shows, music and dances across the territory.
- Victory Day (8th) – public holiday commemorating the end of WWII in Europe.
- Ascension Day (changeable) – public holiday, 40 days after Easter Sunday.
- Whit Monday (changeable, May or June) – also known as Pentecost, a public holiday and religious event.
- Stag and Prawn Festival (changeable, mid-May) – family-friendly, with competitions for sausage-eating and prawn-peeling. Over 2 days at Boulouparis, about 70km northwest of Noumea.
- Koumac Fair (changeable) – 3 days of activities all around this bush town in the far north of the main island, including excursions to caves and hikes in the rainforests.
- Tourism Fair (changeable, sometimes in June) – week-long, featuring traditional entertainment, weaving, sculptures and activities for the family. At the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea.
- New Caledonia Festival of Underwater Pictures (changeable) – 4-day screening and competitions of films and photos, with exhibitions about all things below the sea.
- Lagoon Festival (changeable, early June) – weekend observing the majesty of the landscapes, people and products of Ouvéa (Loyalty Islands). Also, promoting ecological awareness.
- Ocean Fair (mid-June) – for 2 days at Poum (top of the main island), home to remarkable traditional fishermen. Also, sand sculptures, fishing competitions and seafood tasting.
- Music Festival (21st) – celebrating all forms of music across the territory. Leads into the Noumea Birthday.
- Noumea Birthday (22nd to 25th) – celebrated with gusto. Parades, street lanterns and concerts.
- French Cheese Festival (changeable) – rejoicing in brie and Camembert, among others, at Noumea and Bourail (midway up the main island). Abundant tasting of local and imported products.
- Yaté Farmers’ Market (changeable) – chance to buy produce from local tribes. Entertainment, with a real cultural focus at Yaté, in the southeast of the main island.
- Isle of Pines Fair (changeable) – 3 days of frivolity with traditional dancing, music, arts and food across the idyllic Île des Pins, just off the southern mainland.
- La Foa Film Festival (changeable, late June to early July) – for over a week, screenings and competitions in Noumea and La Foa (110km north of the capital).
- Ura Festival (13th) – agricultural and maritime displays on Maré (Loyalty Islands). Honoring the renowned underground springs with markets and craft stalls.
- National Day (14th) – Bastille Day is honored by most across the territory, especially in Noumea, with a military parade on the day and fireworks the night before.
- Thio Fair (changeable) – fantastic expo of locally-grown food, handicrafts, and music from Thio (120km north of Noumea).
- Trans-Calédonienne (changeable) – a 2-day foot race in and around Noumea.
- Clark Cup (early August) – major horse race in Noumea.
- Assumption Day (15th) – public holiday, with church services throughout the islands.
- Bourail Fair (weekend in mid-August) – rural event since the late 19th century. Rodeos, food stalls, beauty pageants, and children’s rides over 3 days at Bourail, midway along the west coast of the main island.
- Whale Festival (changeable) – tribal ceremonies marking the start of the whale-watching season, at Mont-Dore, near Noumea.
- Espirit Live Festival (changeable) – popular music event among the young of Noumea. Free concerts featuring local and international artists.
- Noumea International Marathon (changeable, sometimes July) – part of the worldwide circuit, incorporating the scenic harbours of Noumea.
- Sandalwood & Honey Festival (changeable) – showcasing traditional customs in the exquisite setting of Sandwich Bay on Lifou (Loyalty Islands).
- BlackWoodstock Rock Festival (late August or early September) – huge event at Fort Teremba (125km northwest of Noumea).
- Loyalty Islands Fair (early September) – products, traditional events, seafood and music for 3 days. Hosted in turn by the main islands of Maré, Ouvéa, and Lifou.
- Banoule Worm Festival (second Sunday of September) – honouring the grubs living in candlenut trees. Some hardy souls even swallow them raw. At Farino, 120km northwest of Noumea.
- New Caledonia Day (24th) – also known as French Treaty Day, observing the accord between France and the US during the American Revolution.
- Palm Tree Festival (changeable) – popular event with music, food and rodeos dedicated to the local emblem. At Mouidou, 127km northwest of Noumea.
- Goro Cultural Day (changeable) – celebrating Kanak culture in various villages around Yaté in the southeast of the main island.
- Carnival of Noumea (throughout September) – parades, dances and fireworks, mainly in the capital.
- Les Francofolies (changeable) – 3 days of merriment, with concerts at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea.
- South Pacific Golf Championship (changeable) – one of the major events in the Pacific, at Noumea.
- Mwata Festival (late September to early October) – at Pouébo in the far north. Honoring mwata, a traditional dish of cassava and banana.
- Cycling Tour (changeable) – international event around the main island covering over 1,000km.
- Vanilla Festival (changeable) – across the Loyalty Islands (mainly Lifou), honoring the versatile spice. Concerts, dances, tastings and visits to plantations.
- Sound & Light Shows (changeable) – explaining the local and colonial history of Fort Teremba, 127km north of Noumea.
- All Saints Day (1st) – public holiday honoring venerated saints. Many locals visit graves of relatives.
- Armistice Day (11th) – commemorates the end of WWI.
- Wajuyu Feast (early November) – honoring wajuyu (red snapper), a traditional delicacy, on Maré (Loyalty Islands).
- Noumea Dream Cup (throughout the month) – major windsurfing competition around the capital.
- Goro Sea Festival (changeable) – celebrates all things under the water, with activities above the sea, too, such as seafood tasting. At Yaté, 50km northeast of Noumea.
- Touques Regatta (changeable) – races of colorful homemade boats around Anse Vata (Noumea). Lots of fun for the family.
- Beef Festival (changeable, sometimes over October/November) – agricultural fair with family activities, food-tasting, vintage cars, and inevitably, a rodeo. At Paita, 30km northwest of Noumea.
- Emperor Fish Festival (changeable) – fishing competitions, seafood markets and other fun activities. At Mouidou, midway along the west coast of the main island.
- Noumea Faerie (early December) – fair held for several weeks in the lead up to Christmas in Noumea.
- Lychee Festival (mid-December) – locals adore this fruit, so why not hold a festival celebrating it? At Houailou, midway along the east coast of the main island.
- Christmas Day (25th) – celebrated fervently. A public holiday, with most shops and restaurants closed for several days, and public transport virtually non-existent.
- Boxing Day (26th) – Christmas celebrations continue, and many facilities remain closed, but not a public holiday.
- New Year’s Eve (31st) – much eating, dancing and singing, with fireworks in the capital and main towns.
New Caledonia Events in January
New Caledonia Events in February
New Caledonia Events in March
New Caledonia Events in April
New Caledonia Events in May
New Caledonia Events in June
New Caledonia Events in July
New Caledonia Events in August
New Caledonia Events in September
New Caledonia Events in October
New Caledonia Events in November
New Caledonia Events in December
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