New Zealand Cemetery in BourailNew Zealand Cemetery in Bourail
©New Zealand Cemetery in Bourail|JC Robert

New Zealand Cemetery

in New Caledonia

Pay tribute to the New Zealanders who lost their lives during World War II. The New Zealand Cemetery, located in Nessadiou near Bourail, honours the memory of these Pacific men who fought alongside the Allied forces. Donated to the New Zealand authorities by New Caledonian farmer Charles Goussard in 1943, the cemetery’s grounds now house 242 graves and a memorial bearing 449 names from 14 other South Pacific islands. A place of reflection, the cemetery invites you to remember and trace the history of the 1939-1945 battles in the Pacific region. It’s an informative stop, complemented by a visit to the World War II Museum in Nouméa.

This memorial site is located alongside the RT1 road, 9 kilometres south of Bourail, in the Nessadiou neighbourhood. There are several ways to reach the site:

  • Rent a car in downtown Nouméa, at Nouméa-Tontouta and Nouméa-Magenta airports, or in Bourail. Allow around 2.5 hours from central Nouméa to reach Bourail.
  • Use public transportation with Raï bus company, which offers the Nouméa-Bourail route.
  • Include a visit to the cemetery as part of a guided day or half-day tour.
  • A shuttle service connects Nouméa-La Tontouta Airport directly to Bourail without passing through Nouméa.
  • Admission to the cemetery is free of charge

1. Discover this Historically Significant Site

The New Zealand Cemetery was inaugurated on October 7, 1945, in Nessadiou, as a tribute to all New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives during World War II. Beneath the graves lies a portion of the “Great History.” It tells the story of the 3rd New Zealand Division troops arriving in New Caledonia under the command of Major General HE Barrowclough, serving as a rear base for Allied forces engaged in combat against Japan. Bourail became the primary New Zealand headquarters, hosting a training camp, hospital, communication centre, gas station, and bakery to cater to the soldiers’ needs. The buried soldiers include not only New Zealanders but also members of the local armed forces from Western Pacific who fought in the region.

2. Admire the Memorial and the Cross of Sacrifice

The cemetery is part of the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission,” and the consulate general is responsible for maintaining the garden. The site is now public, allowing everyone to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The well-maintained site provides a tranquil atmosphere. During your visit, observe the cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice, characteristic of Commonwealth military cemeteries worldwide.

3. Partake in the ANZAC Day Ceremony

Every year on April 25, ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand. Two ceremonies are organised in memory of the fallen: one in Nouméa at Bir Hakeim Square near Moselle port and one at the Nessadiou cemetery. The first ceremony is known as the Dawn Service, held at dawn to pay tribute to the soldiers who launched the dawn attack to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula and open the Dardanelles Strait to Allied naval forces. It is customary to bring red poppies for commemorations.