Thio’s contemporary history is profoundly linked to nickel. It is in fact here that the Garnierite mining industry (named after Jules Garnier, who discovered it) began in 1875. As such, Thio is considered the economic heart of New Caledonia. While the mining itself has not stopped, Thio has lost the splendour it used to enjoy. For all that, the commune is not lacking in first-class tourist attractions.
Up until the 1930s, Thio was a rich commune. In addition to several hotels of good repute, it hosted well-known horse-racing courses, and the village saw an influx of consumer goods and amenities that even Nouméa didn't have.
The global economic crisis of the 1930s and the events of the Second World War conspired to tear away Thio’s image of a peaceful village at the heart of a generous natural scene.
The new nickel boom in the early 1970s gave Thio’s ‘glory’ a brief boost, but the commune was already suffering from competition with many other important mining centres, and would never regain its former lustre.
Thio on the tourist trail
Thio underwent significant tourist development to showcase both its industrial heritage (tours to the plateau mine and renovation of the mining museum) and its natural and cultural attractions, of which there are many!
The petroglyphs and the Japanese cemetery each testify in their own way to its ancient history. Thio’s diverse tribes (13) also welcome visitors and today offer them the opportunity to discover their traditional way of life.
- Tourism office in Thio
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday : 8h00 - 16h30, Saturday : 8h30 - 12h00 and 12h30 - 14h00
- Telephone: +687 44 25 04
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The history of Thio is inextricably linked with Caledonian green gold - nickel. After the Nickel Society was founded in 1880 by John Higginson and Jules Garnier in particular, the town expanded rapidly. Two foundries would be set up on the commune’s territory, of which one, at the Thio Mission, lasted right up until the 1930s. The La France Australe newspaper took no time to nickname Thio ‘Nickeltown’, while Le Bulletin de Commerce went with ‘Thio-lès-Rothschild’, referring to the Rothschild family, which during that time had become the major shareholder in the SLN (Nickel Society)...
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What to do in Thio
As for nature, from the black sand beach to the north of the village, to the peaceful Mwara beach in the south, Thio offers the most striking and unique contrast in New Caledonia. And the village simply cannot be outdone with its beautiful Bota Méré botanic trail and the 360° view it offers over the mouth of the River Thio.
If you follow this road to the south, towards Port Bouquet and the mythical forgotten coast, you can take the cliff road offering sumptuous views over the ocean and the mining lands. All of the possible shades of red, green and blue seem to have been brought together here!
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