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Above: Kanak wood carvings take the form of totem poles, masks, door stops and more. Main: New Caledonia is a diverse ethnic mix, with indigenous Kanaks living alongside European descendants and newer Asia-Pacific arrivals (photo: © Stéphane Ducandas/Ethnotracks).

Secrets of the BLUE lagoon AN EMERALD SLIVER IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN, NEW CALEDONIA AND HER OUTLYING ISLANDS OFFER A TROPICAL EXPERIENCE WITH A WILD, RUGGED TWIST – AND A PROFOUND FUSION OF KANAK, PACIFIC AND FRENCH CULTURAL INFLUENCES.

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ringed by the world’s second-largest barrier reef, the picture-perfect archipelago of New Caledonia brims with surprises. Arrive in the capital, Nouméa, and you’ll be struck by the cosmopolitan cityscape, French fusion dining spots and gleaming yacht harbours, conjuring a Riviera-like mood in the Pacific. But set a foot inland on Grande Terre, the main island, and you could encounter any mood whatsoever. On the west coast, sweeping plains are host to livestock farms and the pioneering spirit of the broussards (‘bush cowboys’); on the east coast, lush valleys and crystalline waterfalls await. In the far north, an arid landscape not unlike parts of Australia harbours rich nickel deposits, contributing much to New Caledonia’s

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comfortable standard of wealth. Or go island-hopping and experience indigenous Kanak culture in the Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines. Sit down to a bougna feast – fish, yams, shellfish and lobster marinaded in coconut milk, and simmered for hours in banana leaves, on the hot stones of the Kanak oven. Throw yourself into any water sport imaginable – kiteboarding, sailing, scuba diving and fishing included – or hike through unsullied forests. An astounding 9372 marine species flit through New Caledonia’s reefs and seas and 2535 species inhabit its forests and shores, several of them native to the islands. Look for the striking roussette (a flying fox up to 80 centimeters in length), green pigeon and cagou – the bird that barks.

A CCO MMO DAT IO N

Rendezvous en France 2013  

The official magazine of the French Tourist Bureau in Australia. From the grit and excitement of the Tour de France to the glamour of its ma...

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