Cagou, Blue River Provincial ParkCagou, Blue River Provincial Park
©Cagou, Blue River Provincial Park|Valentin Pacaut - The Explorers

Emblematic animals

New Caledonia

Discover the richness of New Caledonia’s fauna, much of it endemic, and enjoy an ideal playground for observing animal species in a protected natural environment!

Observing animals

in New Caledonia

The New Caledonian archipelago boasts a wealth of endemic fauna and flora, with many species freely thriving in pristine natural settings. New Caledonia, due to its remote location and carefully regulated tourism policies, remains a destination where tourist sites are seldom visited. In comparison to Reunion or Guadeloupe, the archipelago welcomes only a fraction of the tourists, offering a distinct advantage for observing unique plant and animal species. Make sure to include visits to the Parc Zoologique et Forestier and the Aquarium des Lagons in Nouméa during your stay to gain insights into the diverse wildlife of New Caledonia.


Year-round observation, reproduction December - January

In New Caledonia, you may encounter five distinct turtle species: the green turtle (tortue franche), loggerhead turtle (tortue grosse tête), hawksbill turtle (tortue bonne écaille), leatherback turtle (tortue luth), and olive ridley turtle (tortue olivâtre). Year-round, whether by snorkelling or exploring in a glass-bottom boat, sighting turtles in the lagoon grass beds is a common occurrence throughout New Caledonia. Prime locations for sightings include Amédée Lighthouse, Luengoni Beach in Lifou, Poé in Bourail, Signal and Larégnère Islets near Nouméa, and Kuto Bay on Île des Pins. Sea turtles migrate to New Caledonia for breeding during the southern summer (December – January), where they mate in the warm waters of the lagoon after a lengthy journey. Subsequently, females return to the beaches to lay their eggs, and the New Caledonian archipelago hosts several significant South Pacific nesting sites for the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle.

Good to know

It is estimated that out of every thousand baby sea turtles, only one will reach reproductive age!

Humpback whale

Observation mid-July to mid-September

Each year, from June to September, humpback whales embark on an impressive journey of over 8,000 kilometres to reach the warm waters of New Caledonia, where they rest and give birth. Encountering these magnificent creatures is a truly unforgettable experience! As one of the largest animals on the planet, humpback whales are easily identifiable by their dark bodies and long white pectoral fins on the underside. The Great South of New Caledonia is the privileged location for observing these majestic beings. The most effective ways to encounter them include joining a taxi-boat or catamaran cruise departing from Nouméa or Prony, or visiting the observation post at Cap N’Dua.

Humpback whales fast almost throughout their migration and during their stay: they live off their blubber reserves for periods of up to eight months!

Manta ray

Year-round observation (February to June)

Graceful and majestic, manta rays can attain an impressive wingspan of up to seven metres, weighing nearly two tons! These sea giants exhibit high intelligence and curiosity, offering memorable encounters for those venturing on scuba dives or, with a stroke of luck, simply equipped with a mask and fins. Although present throughout the year in the waters of New Caledonia, the period between February and June provides the best opportunity to come across these captivating creatures. Prime locations for manta ray sightings include the vicinity of Nouméa, the Pléiades in Ouvéa, the Upi Bay on the Isle of Pines from a pirogue, or during a boat excursion to the islets Brosse and Moro


Year-round observation

The cagou, an iconic symbol of New Caledonia, faces the threat of extinction, prompting protective measures within natural parks to shield it from predators. Due to conservation efforts, the cagou population has witnessed growth, and these unique birds are gradually reclaiming their habitats in the forests. To catch a glimpse of this distinctive species in its natural surroundings, visit the Blue River Provincial Park or the Great Ferns Park. Contrary to typical birds, the cagou doesn’t take to the skies; instead, it nests on the ground. Enhance your experience by joining a guided tour led by an ornithology specialist who can assist you in recognising, listening to, and understanding the peculiarities of the cagou.

The cagou is one of the few flightless birds in the world, due to a lack of predators on the territory in the past!


Year-round observation

The bats, being the only mammals capable of flight in this list, naturally inhabit New Caledonia and have not been introduced. There are four species of fruit bats in the territory: the roussette rousse (most well-known for its beautiful coat of long, reddish hair), the roussette noire, the roussette des cailloux, and the smaller roussette à queue. These emblematic bat species of New Caledonia, found on Grande Terre and the islands, are protected due to their high vulnerability. Females, in particular, give birth to only one young per year at best. Observing them is possible from the tree tops, cave entrances, or in cavities within limestone rocks.

Good to know

Joemy, a blue dogfish, held a special place in the hearts of New Caledonians as the mascot of the XIVth Pacific Games in 2011.

Tricot rayé

Year-round observation

The striped snake, or tricot rayé, is an amphibious species comfortable both on land for resting and laying eggs and in the sea for feeding. Their apneas, or breath-holding abilities, can last up to twenty minutes. Identified by distinctive black and yellow, blue, or orange stripes, these snakes inhabit islets, seeking refuge among stones, roots, and seabird burrows. While attacks are uncommon due to the animal’s shy nature, it is recommended to exercise caution and avoid startling them.