Hienghène's broody henHienghène's broody hen
©Hienghène's broody hen|Eric Aubry

Hienghene’s hen and rock formations

The Lindéralique cliffs, encompassing the ‘Poule couveuse’ (the brooding hen) and the Sphinx, stand as must-visit attractions in New Caledonia! Nestled along the east coast of Grande Terre within Hienghène, these peculiar black limestone rock formations appear to emerge from the sea. Stretching for approximately ten kilometres, they offer a mesmerising landscape adorned with rugged and distinctive shapes. These formations hold significant symbolism within the Caledonian archipelago.

The Roches et la Poule de Hienghène are situated in the lagoon, just off the coast of Hienghène. You can admire them either from the road or approach them by boat, kayak, or stand-up paddle. To reach the village of Hienghène from Nouméa, it’s advisable to rent a car and head north towards Koné (approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes). Afterward, follow the Koné-Tiwaka route, a picturesque journey that meanders through the Chaîne Centrale (Central Mountain Range) for about an hour, offering splendid scenic viewpoints. It’s then just a one-hour drive to Hienghène. From there, it’s only 26 km to the waterfall. The road is delightful and leads you to the last operating ferry in New Caledonia, crossing the Ouaième river. Upon arrival, park on the seaward side of the river in the designated small parking area. You can admire the waterfall from the road. Please note that an entrance fee is required to access the path leading to the base of the waterfall, and it’s only open in fair weather conditions, as it becomes slippery and hazardous when wet.

  • The viewpoint overlooking the rock formations and Brooding Hen is freely accessible.
  • The Poule and the Sphinx are revered as totems protecting the area and are considered sacred sites. As such, visitors are not allowed to dock and walk on these rock formations..

1. Marvel at the Brooding Hen under the Flamboyant Trees

Known as the “puxa” in the local vernacular, meaning the “brooding hen,” this peculiar rock is believed to have emerged from the sea to assist distant tribes. Symbolising generosity, the Hen is said to have laid enormous eggs and revealed waters teeming with fish. One of the finest spots to admire this colossal black limestone rock is slightly north of Hienghène. A viewpoint equipped with an orientation table has been established here. The site exudes charm, with stone benches and flamboyant trees adorned with red flowers in November-December.

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©Candidate Profile 05

New Caledonia is definitely surprising! I never expected to find these incredible landscapes with huge rocks worthy of the best natural spots in Southeast Asia.

Alexander Mcalpine, Caledonian Dream season 2

2. Embark a boat trip in the bay

Cruise into Hienghène Bay and savour enlightening commentary from a local guide. On the seaward side, you’ll be treated to a unique view of the Brooding Hen and the close-up beauty of the Lindéralique cliffs. Observing the bay and the village of Hienghène from the sea presents an original perspective. On the river side, navigate through the mangroves, surrounded by lush and diverse vegetation. Depart from the village’s marina, situated opposite Ka Waboana Lodge, or from the Koulnoué tribe.

3. Paddle along the limestone rocks

Kayaking or stand-up paddling offers an unusual and fascinating approach to these rock formations that resemble animals. Start by admiring them from a distance before closely observing their contours and the black quarts limestone. Capturing a splendid photograph of the Poule is a must from your watercraft. Depart from the Hienghène nautical base.

4. Ascend to the top of Col de Ga Wivaek

Accessible by car or on foot, the peak of Col de Ga Wivaek boasts a magnificent panoramic view over Hienghène Bay and the rock formations. The hiking trail ranks among the most picturesque on the east coast. It leads you to the peaks overlooking Hienghène Bay, affording vistas of the Lindéralique rocks to the right, theBrooding Hen, the Sphinx, the village of Hienghène, and the expansive reef on the horizon. The trail commences at the Brooding Hen lookout, covering a distance of 3.8 km with a summit at 308 metres above sea level, and is suitable for all, taking around 2 hours to complete.

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©Candidate Portrait 02

The route wasn’t difficult and I absolutely had to be the first to the top to see this crazy panorama. As a result, I think I picked up everyone else’s pace.

Sarah Diawara, Caledonian Dream season 2

5. Visit the Hienghène marina

The heart of Hienghène extends along a marina, where a few boats are moored. Stroll along the estuary to soak in the serene and tranquil ambiance of the area. Discover a small grocery store, some market stalls, a sunny bench, and at the Tourism Office, gather valuable advice and brochures about the destination. Don’t forget to capture a photograph of the estuary as you relax on the quay! On Wednesdays and Fridays, make the most of the market to relish some of the region’s fresh produce.