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Insider Advice & Travel Tips from Locals in New Caledonia

Social Ties
Community is a significant part of the culture in New Caledonia, and decisions are made for the good of one’s tribe over individual gains. Clan elders enjoy an elevated and respected status, especially in decision-making.

Land Ownership
An individual cannot own land in most of New Caledonia, as the land belongs to all Caledonians. The tribal clans use the law of covenants to regulate how it is shared.

Sacred Yams
The mighty yam gets star status in New Caledonia, and both daily life and annual events are centered around its cultivation. Yams are given as gifts during weddings and other major celebrations.

Urban Life
Noumea is a vibrant city, not surprising if you consider that half of Caledonians are younger than 30, and two-thirds of the population live in the Noumea metropolitan area. The city boasts a multitude of activities and events, and stays relatively uncrowded throughout the year.

In the Brousse
The Brousse (meaning bush) is the lifeblood of New Caledonia, made up of vast plains, mountains and nickel mines. Here you’ll find cowboys, fisherman, miners and Kanak tribes, but all are collectively referred to as Broussards.

Definitely check out
Storytelling, music and sports rank highly as Caledonian pastimes. Kaneka is the local musical genre, and is heavily inspired by Reggae. American country music and the Tahitian Waltz are also popular. Caledonians are also passionate about football (soccer), and you can catch games as both stadiums and on makeshift tribal fields. If you’re into more leisurely pursuits, take some time to observe Caledonian woodcarving from “houp” wood. This wood is used to make everything from ancestral “flèches faîtières” arrows to modern sculptures, with carved totem poles, masks and baskets somewhere in between. The Tjibaou Cultural Center in Noumea is a good start to discovering a breadth Caledonian arts and culture.

Noumea’s architectural styles offer a glimpse into the city’s history. The earliest examples are the colourful wooden colonial houses of the historic districts, but you can also see Art Deco cottages and 60s-era buildings.