Monday, August 08, 2011

I thought I might start off with something useful

New Caledonia is expensive...I'm not sure if it's like Zurich expensive, or not, as we had a whole lot more money when we were in Zurich (and Zurich is indeed very expensive); so we'll just say that New Caledonia is also very expensive.

When arriving in New Caledonia, the expensiveness begins almost immediately: Tontouta International Airport is 45 km outside of Noumea. There are about 30 shuttle operators, each will want somewhere around 3000 Pacific Francs (XPF) to get you to Noumea; some might give you a little discount for two people (say 5000 XPF). [The Pacific Franc is used in New Caledonia and French Polynesia. It is pegged to the Euro at an exchange rate of 120 XPF per Euro. If you're bored, you should read about the history of why New Caledonia doesn't just use the Euro.] Anyway, 5000 XPF is about $60 (US) at today's exchange rate. In retrospect, that does not look very expensive, but it's quite a bit more in Kiwibucks, and Nico and I are but poor Kiwi folk.

But I digress. To delay the expensiveness a little, exchange a few dollars at the currency exchange at the airport. [Or use the ATM if you have a good American bank that does not make this prohibitive.] Then avoid the private shuttles and hop on the public bus (Carsud). I could find almost no web presence for Carsud, so I was a little afraid they were no longer in business. Fortunately, they are still running, and pick up at the airport every 30 minutes (roughly between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM--don't quote me on that, but there are only like 3 planes that land/take off from Tontouta, and they are all well within normal bus hours). To get to Noumea, you will want line C (or C express, which has fewer stops, but still has so many you will wonder why it's called express). It's a 70 minute trip to Noumea (at a bargain price of 400 XPF per person). And unless you are staying in downtown Noumea, you will then have to catch a city bus to your destination. The city buses are quite easy to figure out, even if you speak as little French as I do. The airport bus will drop you off in the vicinity of Avenue Paul Doumer and Ru Du General Gallieni; you can then catch either a green line or yellow line bus to get to Anse Vata (where most of the resorts are). City buses are 210 XPF; 190 XPF if you buy your ticket in advance. There's a bus station office somewhere, but the only place I saw people buying tickets was from a machine in Place Des Cocotiers.

So that's how you save 4800 XPF during your first hour in New Caledonia.

PS: I sat in Place Des Cocotiers for quite a while to take a quality photo of some colorfully clothed Kanak women...the picture above was about the best I was able to do without looking like I was trying to take photos of colorfully clothed Kanak women.

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