The cost of living
Unless you live Pacific-Island style, eating what you harvest and fish (which would be a good idea!), the cost of living is rather high in New Caledonia. As a traveller, you cannot escape it in some sectors. But you can also buy a nem (spring roll) for 110 francs or a bum bao (Vietnamese bun filled with meat) for 250 francs. Note that in New Caledonia there is no bargaining or tipping.
Local time is 11 hours ahead of GMT, so 10 hours ahead of winter time in France and 9 hours ahead of summer time.
So in December, when it is noon in Noumea, it is:
- 2 am in Paris
- Noon in Sydney
- 2 pm in Auckland
- 8 am in Bangkok or Jakarta
- 10 am in Tokyo and Seoul
- 3 pm the previous day in Tahiti
- 5 pm the previous day in Los Angeles
- 8 pm the previous day in New York. > Table
The sun rises around 5 am in the southern summer and sets around 7 pm. When the cool season arrives, the sun appears around 6.30 am and disappears towards 5.30 pm. New Caledonians get up early (around 5.30 am or 6 am), children start school at 7.30 am, as do the vast majority of services open to the public. Lunch is usually between 11.30 am and noon and dinner around 7 pm. In the bush, schedules are more flexible, but everything opens and shuts early.
Mail and telecommunications
Each bush district has a post office. The mail is a very reliable institution and it will cost you 110 francs to send a standard letter to France.
To reach New Caledonia by telephone from abroad, you must dial the international code (00 in France, 0011 in Australia) then 687 (the country code) then the six-figure number of the person you are ringing. On the other hand, to telephone France you must dial 00 then 33 and the city code before the number. To ring Australia, the country code is 61, so you dial 0061 before the city code and number; for New Zealand, the country code is 64, and for the United States and Canada 1. However, take care, as communications are still rather costly in comparison with the package rates usual elsewhere.
The GSM network generally functions well, even if some shadow areas still exist. Internet access is available in most modern accommodation, with a relatively weak ADSL line in comparison with European lines.
In New Caledonia, the press is not very diverse, even if numerous small publications regularly emerge. - There is only one daily paper: the Nouvelles Calédoniennes (130 francs), www.lnc.nc , which offers numerous free supplements including a television guide. Two classified advertising papers: the Gratuit and Paru Vendu. Weeklies: Infos, Télé 7 Jours. Several monthly magazines, including an economics magazine called Objectif, a satirical publication called Le Chien Bleu and the quarterly magazine of the Agence de développement de la culture kanak (ADCK) called Mwà Wéé. French newspapers and magazines are widely distributed in New Caledonia but at a price easily described as exorbitant (some magazines are around 2 000 F).
- Radio stations: RNC, NRJ, RRB and Radio Djiido. Television: RFO-NC and Tempo, as well as Canal+ and the satellite package, which you will also find in most hotels that have television.
In New Caledonia the public holidays are the same as in France and all the national, religious and commercial holidays are celebrated here: New Year’s Day, St Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Women’s Day, Good Friday, Labour Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Easter, Ascension Day, Feast of the Assumption, Christmas. The Asian New Year, at the start of February, is also usually celebrated. And every 24 September, the incorporation of the country by France in 1853 is commemorated (in various ways!).