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Best Time to Visit New Caledonia: A Comprehensive Guide

New Caledonia is a country boasting a semi-tropical climate brimming with French and Melanesian culture. It is famous for the barrier reef surrounding the islands which feature a myriad of marine life. With pristine white sand beaches and a great variety of colourful fish as well as French cuisine, there’s no surprise why this is a popular destination. In this guide, we’ll help you decide the best time to visit New Caledonia.

There are two seasons; summer, or the wet, cyclone season and winter, the dry season. New Caledonia features relatively consistent temperatures with summers being up to the early 30s during the day, and early to mid-20s during winter.

The peak times to travel are during the Christmas and mid-year holidays. The best time to travel to New Caledonia however, depends on your interests. The middle of the year is a great time to travel if you’re limited to travelling during school holidays. The shoulder months of May, June, September and October are the drier months when the country is less busy with tourism, making this a great time to travel. Adventure enthusiasts tend to travel during winter when there is little rain, hiking trails are dry and waters are calm.

The following guide will help you figure out the best time for you to travel, festivals held throughout the year and public holidays.


High Season (Dec/January and July/August)

The high season occurs during both the Christmas holidays during December and January, and also the mid-year holidays during July and August. Those limited to school holidays often choose to travel this time, so tourists are predominantly families.

New Zealanders and Australians tend to escape the wintery weather and visit New Caledonia during the July school holidays and the French and Japanese tend to favour the end of the year when it is winter in the northern hemisphere.

December is generally more popular than January due to less rainfall. Likewise, July and August are very dry months, making it a favourable time to travel to New Caledonia.  

Shoulder Season (May/June and September/October)

The shoulder season is a great time to travel if you want to avoid both the wet season and peak tourist period. May and June are prior to the school holidays or mid-year holidays for the northern hemisphere, whereas September and October are prior to the busy Christmas holidays.

One big plus about the shoulder season is that temperatures and humidity levels are more comfortable. September and October are particularly dry and sunny months.

Anse Vata beach is the main tourist beach located in Noumea.

Low Season (November & February to April)

New Caledonia experiences it’s lowest number of tourists from November through to April. This coincides with its wet season.

During this time period cyclones, although rare, may occur. Temperatures are at their hottest and can rise to the early 30s during the day. Expect heavy rains during the summer months, with heavy downpours appearing to occur more inland than the shores.

Humidity is also at its highest due to the combination of heat and moisture in the air. The combination of unpleasant humidity, high temperatures and plentiful rainfall make it the least popular time to travel to New Caledonia.

Regardless, there are still a few days of rain in the summer months ranging from 5 to 12 days. If travelling during the low season, you may be lucky to escape the rain entirely. We have travelled to New Caledonia during the rainy season before (February/March) and we were lucky enough only to experience light showers on a few days of our trip. To be honest, the rain was quite refreshing after spending a lot of time in the sun and in a humid atmosphere.

When to Visit New Caledonia

Best Time to Visit New Caledonia

Generally, the best time to visit New Caledonia is during the shoulder months. As well as being able to escape the heavy rainfall and unpleasant humidity of the wet season, you also avoid overcrowding during the peak tourist seasons.

October and November are favourable months due to abundant sunshine and spring temperatures. September is also a great pick and is considered the country’s driest month, however water temperatures can drop to as low as 22 degrees Celsius. Wetsuits aren’t necessary at this temperature but may come in handy if you often feel cold in the water.

For hikers, travel during the dry season of June to October. Grounds are drier during this time, making them less slippery and dangerous. The mountains do get quite chilly during the mornings and evenings, so bring enough warm clothes and shoes with a good grip.

For snorkelers and divers, June to October is recommended. Visibility of the water is crucial for these outdoor activities, and waves are generally at its minimum due to negligible winds and little rainfall.

A beautiful view of the marina in New Caledonia's capital, Noumea.

Cheapest Time to Visit New Caledonia

Like all other holiday destinations, the high season is the most expensive time to visit. Both flight and accommodation costs are inflated during this time, so visit during the shoulder and lower seasons to save money. Prices can be more than double the price during the high season, so be cognizant of this when planning your holiday.

Booking a holiday out of the New Caledonian high season of December, January, July and August is the cheapest time to visit the country. Book well in advance and take advantage of sales to get the best deal possible.

You may also be able to save some money by booking flight and accommodation packages. Last minute deals may also appear if flights and accommodation are still available close to the dates, but don’t rely on this if you’re already planning on travelling to New Caledonia.

Bear in mind the possibility of cancellations of outdoor activities i.e. boat snorkelling trips. This may occur during the rough and windy weather of the wet season. Have alternative activities on hand if this does occur.

Best Time to Visit New Caledonia for Diving/Snorkelling

New Caledonia is home to the globe’s largest lagoon surrounding all of its loyalty islands. Snorkelling is generally good all year round however, visibility is usually best when the sea is calm. This is when rain, winds and waves are at its minimum during June to October (Winter and Spring).

This is our favourite country to snorkel in the Pacific. Don’t miss Duck Island (île aux Canards). It’s about a 30-minute boat ride from Nouméa and costs less than 1700 XPF for a return ticket. When you enter the water surrounding the island, there is a steep drop-off so you don’t have to go far at all for it to be deep with an abundance of fish.

Make sure îlot Maître is also onto your to-do list. It’s about a 45-minute boat ride from Nouméa and costs 2600 XPF return. One side of the island is covered in the most colourful fish species and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to swim with the turtles on the other side of the island. This was definitely one of the best days of our lives spent here. We enjoyed it so much we went back a few days later. Truly a magical experience!

Check out our guide to the best beaches in New Caledonia to find out which ones are worth visiting, and which ones offer the best for diving, snorkelling and relaxing.

Weather in New Caledonia by Month

New Caledonia Weather in January

Being one of the sunniest months of the year, there’s no surprise January is one of New Caledonia’s busiest months. Temperatures can hit the low 30s so make sure you’ve got a sunhat and plenty of sunscreen with you.

Loose clothing that allows airflow is always the best bet. Go for merino and linen. Merino has antibacterial properties that allow you to wear garments multiple times without it smelling, and linen provides airflow and absorbs sweat from the skin, keeping the body cool. Plus they are super lightweight, making them a top packing hack for travellers trying to make the most of their luggage space.

Although being sunny, January is still the middle of the wet season. Expect to be caught in a downpour or a shower from time to time during your stay. Keep dry with a waterproof (not water resistant) raincoat. Winds pick up around this time so it’s best to avoid an umbrella.

Average High Temperature: 29°C / 84°F

Average Low Temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 100mm

New Caledonia Weather in February

February is amongst the wettest months of the year. A combination of the heat and rain creates high humidity, making February not the most favourable time to visit.

Although, our last trip to New Caledonia was during February and we didn’t have much of an issue with the heat or humidity. We spent most of our time in the water snorkelling or swimming which cooled us down and if it happened to start raining, chances were we were already in the water. We also got lucky with the rain – we only experienced a couple of light to moderate showers during our week-long trip. If you do end up in a downpour, use this as an excuse to go for a swim!

Heavier rain is usually experienced inland. Most tourists plan on visiting Nouméa and the loyalty islands so may not get to experience heavy downpours. The great thing about the weather in New Caledonia is that periods of rain don’t usually last long. Shortly before and after rain, the clouds usually clear up so you can enjoy the sun again!

Average High Temperature: 29°C / 84°F

Average Low Temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 140mm

Great weather at Kuendu beach in Noumea, New Caledonia.

New Caledonia Weather in March

Weather in March is very similar to February, except temperatures start to cool down slightly and rain eases off a little. March is also one of the wettest months of the year so be sure to pack a waterproof rain jacket.

Average High Temperature: 28°C / 82°F

Average Low Temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 130mm

New Caledonia Weather in April

Although officially out of the wet season, expect there to be a shower here and there. You may be lucky enough to avoid any moderate to heavy downpours, so only a light rain jacket is required. If you prefer to use an umbrella you can consider switching your rain jacket for this as the winds have started to ease off so you don’t need to worry about your umbrella turning inside out.

April is a transition month towards winter so temperatures continue to drop slightly. Temperatures during the day tend to be more favourable, however, pack a light jumper or cardigan for the night time.  

Average High Temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Average Low Temperature: 22°C / 72°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 90mm

New Caledonia Weather in May

Temperatures drop further as we progress into the winter months. Temperatures at night may reach below 20 degrees Celsius so bring a jumper and long pants if you’re planning to go to bars, shows and restaurants after dark.

May also calls for a lot less humidity. Make sure you do still pack clothes suitable for warm weather, but also bring clothes suitable for autumn temperatures as you may require these during the mornings and late afternoon, as well as if the sun doesn’t make an appearance.

Average High Temperature: 25°C / 77°F

Average Low Temperature: 20°C / 68°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 100mm

New Caledonia Weather in June

June is considered the start of the New Caledonian winter. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘winter’ as temperatures still average 24 degrees during the day, so winters are considered very mild.  Bring warm clothes with you for the evenings as temperatures commonly drop to the mid-teens.

Average High Temperature: 24°C / 75°F

Average Low Temperature: 19°C / 66°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 110mm

New Caledonia Weather in July

July is one of the coldest months of the year with temperatures during the day averaging around the low 20s with temperatures at night in the teens. Thankfully, there is usually plenty of sun to warm you up. Tourists are frequently seen still enjoying the water and basking in the sun at the beaches.

In fact, this is the most popular time for New Zealanders and Australians to visit. As well as making the most of the school holidays, they can escape the winter weather for a tropical paradise.

When night approaches and there’s no sun to keep you warm it can feel quite chilly.

Average High Temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Average Low Temperature: 17°C / 63°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 70mm

New Caledonia Weather in August

August shares a very similar climate to July; it is equally as cold and dry with little wind and humidity. The dry weather and school holidays for both France and Japan make it a very popular month for tourism. Hikers also tend to come during the winter as the slippery terrain during the wet season can become dangerous to use. Be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes for when the sun goes down.

Average High Temperature: 23°C / 73°F

Average Low Temperature: 17°C / 63°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 70mm

Sunsets on the west coast of New Caledonia are beautiful.

New Caledonia Weather in September

New Caledonia’s driest month at only 40mm of rain. That’s less than a third of the amount of rain than February. If you’re not a fan of the rain, this is definitely the best time to visit. September is considered the shoulder season so the country doesn’t feel overrun by tourists.

Temperatures start to rise slightly as you enter into the spring months, but a jumper will still be needed for the evenings.

Average High Temperature: 24°C / 75°F

Average Low Temperature: 18°C / 64°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 40mm

New Caledonia Weather in October

Although October is the transition month between spring and summer, or the wet season, the average rainy days remains very low at four. Days become increasingly hotter and there’s a slight increase in rainfall.

When it does rain it tends to be moderate to heavy downpours that don’t usually last for long. Bring a waterproof raincoat or umbrella with you in case you get caught in the rain.

Average High Temperature: 26°C / 79°F

Average Low Temperature: 19°C / 66°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 60mm

New Caledonia Weather in November

November is officially the start of the wet season in New Caledonia. Contrary to popular belief, there does not appear to be any more rain than October.

November tends to get quite warm with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and is amongst the sunniest months of the year. Pack sunscreen and a hat for the days, and a jumper for the night time. Temperatures can drop to less than 20 degrees Celsius after the sun sets.

Average High Temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Average Low Temperature: 21°C / 70°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 50mm

New Caledonia Weather in December

December calls for similar weather to that of November. With ample sunshine and little rain, this is a popular time to go. Many French and Japanese tourists choose to holiday in New Caledonia at this time to escape their winter and switch out their white Christmas for a relaxing holiday season on the beach.

The temperature really starts to heat up in December, paired with an increase in humidity. A sunhat, sunscreen and plenty of water will be necessary if travelling during this period.

Average High Temperature: 28°C / 82°F

Average Low Temperature: 22°C / 72°F

Average Rainfall(Precipitation): 60mm

These statistics are based off averages from Holiday Weather.

Turtle found on the New Caledonian Island of Ilot Maitre.

Public Holidays in New Caledonia

New Caledonia follows France in their 12 public holidays, with the addition of New Caledonia day celebrated on the 24th of September. This makes up for a total of 13 public holidays.

1 January 2019TuesdayNew Year’s Day
22 April 2019MondayEaster Monday
1 May 2019WednesdayLabour Day
8 May 2019WednesdayVictory Day
30 May 2019ThursdayAscension Day
10 June 2019MondayWhit Monday
14 July 2019SundayBastille Day Monday, 15 July 2019, will be a public holiday if your rest day falls on 14 July 2019.
15 August 2019ThursdayAssumption
24 September 2019TuesdayNew Caledonia Day
1 November 2019FridayAll Saint’s Day
11 November 2019MondayArmistice Day
25 December 2019WednesdayChristmas Day
31 December 2019TuesdayNew Year’s Eve

Sourced from Lonely Planet

Festivals & Events in New Caledonia

Giant Omelette Festival

27 April 2019

Dumbéa

No, we’re not joking! Dumbea literally hosts a festival where a giant omelette is created! Located on the outskirts of Nouméa less than a 30-minute drive away, making it such a convenient spot to get to. The festival is held to remember the time when Napoleon commissioned townspeople of a small town in southwestern France, Bessières to create a giant omelette for his army.

Avocado Festival

30 May 2019

Maré

How cool is a festival honouring avocados? This festival began in the 1990s to teach visitors of the small loyalty island, Maré of their lifestyle. This exclusive event is limited to 300 people, as all visitors are invited to stay in the homes of people of the tribal village, Nece.

The majority of inhabitants’ income is made from agriculture and fishing, so the success of the festival is very important. Because of this, preparation for the event starts up to six months in advance. Up to 40 tonnes of avocados are produced annually in Maré alone! All profits from the event are distributed equally amongst the village people.

As well as avocados, there is plenty of fresh produce available. Bananas, pawpaw, passionfruit and yams to name just a few. There’s also delicious, fresh seafood available as well as honey, wooden carvings and you can even join in on a weaving lesson from the locals.

The big event includes the lunchtime tasting. An array of avocado-based dishes are served. Activities which fill the day include snorkelling, fishing competitions and tours of Maré’s attractions such as the aquarium and caves.

French Cheese Festival

4-15 and 20-22 June 2018

Nouméa and Bourail

This festival is perfect for lovers of cheese. It is held in two cities, Noumea and Bourail. The grand festival begins at Le Méridian Nouméa for a whole 12 days then heads down to the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort in Bourail for three days more.

Showcasing New Caledonia’s finest cheeses, this is definitely the place to be in June. It’s a cheese connoisseur’s paradise! Boasting a remarkable assortment of flavours, at over 100 varieties of cheese you’re spoilt for choice.

And not to forget, no festival dedicated to cheese would be complete without great wine. Pairings will also be available to complement each tasting.

Bastille Day

14 July 2019

Nouméa

Like France, New Caledonia also celebrates Bastille Day, a defining moment in French history. Bastille was a state prison the dictatorial government imprisoned those who did not agree with their political ideologies. In the late 18th century, the people of France stormed the prison, signalling the start of the French Revolution.

Head down to Coconut Palm Square for a military parade with alight lanterns and dance performances. The festival finishes with a fireworks display.

Noumea city centre pagoda in New Caledonia

Bourail Fair

17-19 August 2019

Bourail

Bourail Fair has been running since the late 19th century and features the city’s farmers, their livestock and produce. At less than a 2-hour drive north from Nouméa, make your way to Bourail and stay for a few nights to enjoy the festivities.

The highlight of the fair includes the rodeo! Come on an empty stomach as there are plenty of food stalls showcasing local dishes. There are also fair rides to keep the kids occupied, and log-cutting, equestrian, motocross and beauty pageants for entertainment.

Carnival Nouméa

7 September 2019

Nouméa

Both one of the largest and most vibrant festivals of the year, you don’t want to miss this. Upwards of 15,000 attend the music concerts, dance performances and delicious food stalls. Seeing concert goers adorned in elaborate costumes adds to the joyous atmosphere.

Stay until sundown for the float parade and see the streets fill with colour. Head to Birhakeim Square on the outskirts of Nouméa’s city centre. The parade makes its way towards Coconut Palm Square just over 1km away. A fireworks display marks the end of the festival and parade. This is best viewed from Jules Ferry Quay.

Francofolies

September 2019 (TBC)

Nouméa

Francofolies is a celebration of French language and music combined with the Melanesian culture of the Pacific. It’s a three-day event held at Moselle Bay featuring both a local and international lineup. Francofolies is a new festival in Nouméa, having been held twice before and has already shown great popularity with the locals.

Blackwoodstock Festival

4 October 2019

Fort Téremba

The Blackwoodstock Rock Arts and Music Festival features an open-air concert surrounded with lush scenery away from the hustle and bustle of Nouméa.

Held in the outback of Fort Téremba, this city is only one and a half hour’s drive from Nouméa’s city centre. Attendees are encouraged to camp onsite for the full festival experience, otherwise, the nearby town of Bourail is a great place to stay.

The three-day festival showcases both local and international musicians. This is also a relatively new festival in New Caledonia and has been running since 2014.

Underground Gourmet

Late 2019 (TBC)

Nouméa, Bourail and The Isle of Pines

This event was held for the first time in 2018 and this year, Underground Gourmet will make another appearance. Also held in Fiji, Samoa and Australia, this grand event is not to be missed.

Underground Gourmet is not only appreciated by tourists but locals alike. Foodies flock together to sample local food. The country’s best chefs work together to showcase their culture’s dishes. As well as sampling flavourful delicacies, you’ll find demonstrations of underground cooking techniques and can also buy their local produce.

This event will take place in three locations; Le Méridien Nouméa, Le Méridien Isle of Pines and the Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort in Bourail. The date for Underground Gourmet is currently TBC but is expected to take place in late 2019.

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