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Grande Terre Island

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Grande Terre ('Big Land'), is the largest island in New Caledonia. It is an oblong shaped island with a width of only 50km, but it extends about 400km long in a north south position. It is actually the largest island in Oceania outside of Australia and New Zealand.

The island is quite mountainous with Mt Panie reaching the lofty height of 1628m. There are two major coastlines due to its oblong shape. The East coast is more mountainous and the result is more rain which supports an array of vegetation. The western side of the island is drier and more exposed. There are extensive coastal grassy plains as well as mangrove forests. A 250 metre high plateau containing small lakes and marshlands lies to the south of the island. The northern part of the island has tropical rain forest that helps provide for the native Kanak people who live here. The whole island is ecompassed in the world's biggest lagoon.

The gateway to this island and New Caledonia as a whole is the capital, Noumea, a colonial French style town situated in a port at the southern end of the island. Noumea is a good base for travellers as it offers the familiar comforts and services of cafes, restaurants, shops, and travel agents. The town itself also has some nice beaches and is close to a number of small coral cay islands if you feel like a short break. From Noumea, you can easily book tours and transport to other islands further afield.

As you head out of Noumea you will pass through a number of smaller towns such as Koumac, Kone, Borail, Tontaouta, and Poum.

Photo Galleries

Grande Terre New Caledonia photos
Noumea Grande Terre New Caledonia photos

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Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual Oceania)

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