While there’s an intercity bus network connecting major towns on Grande Terre, car rental is a smart choice for discovering New Caledonia’s remote areas and islands at your convenience. With your own vehicle, you’ll have the flexibility to reach your accommodation whenever you need. This is particularly essential in the far north, east coast, Great South, and on the islands, unless you prefer guided day tours.
- Where can I rent a car?
Planning to rent a car upon your arrival in New Caledonia? Several international car rental brands operate at La Tontouta International Airport. Look for their dedicated counters. Car rental companies also have offices in Nouméa. If your destination is one of the Loyalty Islands or the Isle of Pines, you’ll find local rental services there as well. However, while many rental companies serve the islands, the number of vehicles can be limited. It’s advisable to book your vehicle in advance of your stay.
- What type of vehicle should I rent?
In New Caledonia, 4x4s and pick-up trucks are prevalent. However, your choice should align with your travel plans. If you intend to stick to paved roads, consider a two-wheel-drive vehicle, preferably with good ground clearance. If you plan to venture off-road onto dirt tracks, opt for a 4×4 model with high ground clearance.
- How much does it cost?
Rental costs are relatively comparable to those in mainland France. As for fuel, it’s generally less expensive locally than in France, with consistent pricing per litre throughout the territory. This is convenient, as you won’t need to worry over selecting a particular gas station.
- What are the road rules?
Road rules in New Caledonia are identical to those in France: drive on the right side of the road, overtake on the left, and yield to the right (except at roundabouts, where priority is given to vehicles already on the roundabout, coming from the left). Speed limits are typically 50 km/h in urban areas and a maximum of 110 km/h on main roads. Civility is highly regarded in New Caledonia, and road etiquette is typically polite, with minimal horn honking. On secondary roads, it’s customary to exchange greetings with other drivers you encounter.
While the road network is generally in good condition, exercise caution. Some roads may be narrow and winding, and there’s even a timed road where traffic can flow in both directions at scheduled intervals! Nighttime driving outside of Nouméa is not recommended.
- What about the driver's license?
For stays under six months, a driver’s license from your country of origin officially translated into French or an international driver’s license is sufficient. In all cases, drivers must be at least 21 years old and have held a driver’s license for a minimum of 2 or 3 years, depending on the rental agency.
- Are petrol stations common?
Sometimes petrol stations can be few and far between in New Caledonia. If you are planning to head out on a long drive, ensure that you will have enough petrol to reach the next major town without worry.