I love Pacific Islands – sand, sun, tropical paradises. New Caledonia has all of that, but it also has much more. New Caledonia has things you won’t find on other Pacific Islands. As one of the largest Pacific Islands, New Caledonia has a much wider range of landscapes and biomes than others. One of the best ways to explore this unique side of New Caledonia is a day trip to Parc Riviere Bleue.
The park is easily reached as a day trip from Noumea, although you will need your own transport. The park is only an hour and half drive from the capital, but it will feel longer than that as you wind your way through dusty mountain roads that seem to transport you to an entirely different world from the beach front city you left.
How to get there
You will need your own transport to get to the park. From Noumea you’ll drive towards Mont Dore, then Plum, then Yaté, taking the left-hand fork in the road to Rivière Bleue rather than taking the road to the Madeleine Falls. After you turn off the main road, you will snake your way several kilometers up a dusty hilly landscape. You will honestly feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but don’t panic.
At one point we stopped to ask a road worker directions as we were convinced we were lost. “Ou est la parc provincial?” He pointed the way, and we continued on our way. When you reach the park you will need to stop and pay your entrance fee, pick up your map, and you can then continue on in the park. Be aware that some roads are only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles.
What to do and see in Parc Riviere Bleue
- The most eerie and memorable sight in Parc Riviere Bleue is the sunken forest. This is a Kaori forest that was drowned during the creation of a man made lake. There is a viewing point about a 20 minute hike from a parking spot where you can view the tops of the trees protruding from the lake like a skeletal forest.
- Hike. There are loads of different hiking trails for all different difficulty levels and all different lengths. If you only have time for one hike, make sure you do the one to the sunken forest look out.
- You can also explore the park by bicycle or kayak. Sud Loisirs will hook you up with a bike, and check out Terra Incognita for kayak and bike tours.
Tips to make your trip a success
- Leave Noumea early in the morning. There is an absolute ton to do in the park and you won’t want to miss out
- Pack lunch. There are no restaurants or cafes in the park, and I didn’t see very much at all on the drive up either.
- Bring lots of water. We visited during the early spring and we still found it very hot and very dry.
- If you are only doing the shorter easier walks, there is no need to pack hiking shoes. But you might want to bring some if you plan to spend a longer time in the park.