Traversed from the north to the south by a long high mountain range (the Chaîne Centrale), New Caledonia's mainland which is 450 km long and 50 km wide, is a paradise for hikers.
The highest point in New Caledonia (1 628 m) the Mont Panié which shelters a botanic reserve exceptionally rich in endemic plants, is accessible via Hienghène on the east coast. To the southwest lies the second highest summit in New Caledonia, Mont Humbolt, which rises to 1618 metres. For people who love adventure and being in the great outdoors, hiking is the best way to discover the secret treasures of the New Caledonian countryside.
You will be able to admire the niaouli savannah of the great plains of the west coast, cross the Mountain Range and its primary forest, experience the Bush where you will come across the New Caledonian cowboys and visit welcoming tribes. The Loyalty Islands to the east and the Isle of Pines to the south are splendid for walks along pristine beaches or above sheer cliffs accompanied by an experienced Kanak guide.
These landscapes can be travelled by foot, on mountain bike or horseback by using the looped or crisscross walking tracks. At the present time, there are 21 PR (Petites Randonnées or shorter tracks)and 2 GR (Grandes Randonnées or longer tracks).
IN THE SOUTH
The GR1 NC – Province South
With stages of a difficult level, the unique ‘Grande Randonnée’ circuit, crossing through Kanak country, attracts hardened trampers from all over the world. The longest standing part of the track is divided into seven stages, equipped with overnight huts and security shelters connecting Prony to the Dumbea barrier. Since the beginning of 2014, a new section has been opened in the northern part: five stages in both directions are operational, with over 70 kilometres of signposted tracks and possibility to stay over in a tribe each evening.
More info here
IN THE NORTH
Hiking in the North is a unique experience, both from the point of view of experiencing nature and meeting the peoples of the North, both Kanak and Caldoche. With their knowledge of the paths walked by their ancestors and of their sacred places, the Kanaks will take you into areas which only they know.
Walking in the Northern Province also means experiencing isolation, silence and getting back to nature in the true sense of the word, where you are assured of really feeling somewhere else.
The Northern GR, 5 operational stages – Province North
Inaugurated in October 2013, the first five stages of the GR® Nord allow trampers to explore the isolated and little known regions in the Northern Province. The track begins in the peaceful valley of Tchamba, and ends at the narrow alluvial plain of Tewadé (Tiouandé), south of Hienghène. The track crosses sometimes turbulent rivers like the Tiwaka, runs alongside zones with an impressive ornithological wealth like the Important Bird Areas (IBA) on the heights of Tchamba and crosses many welcoming tribal villages.
More info at: http://www.tourismeprovincenord.nc/en/
THE LOYALTY ISLANDS
For a real adventure, head to the sparsely populated Loyalty Islands (Lifou, Maré and Ouvéa). Encounter secluded beaches, hidden caves, amazing views, abundant bushland and local Kanak inhabitants that will make you feel welcome the second you arrive.
Far beyond the traditional tropical postcards, of pristine white sand beaches and the cristal clear waters of the lagoon which they are known for, each of the Loyalty Islands reveals its own personality as you discover its secret creeks, the sheer cliffs majestically dotted with column pines, the legendary rocks which rise like medieval fortresses, the forgotten grottos which go down far into the depths of the island, and the forests, so dense that you feel like you are the first person to tread there… Lands of legends and traditions, of original beauty, the Loyalty Islands have walking tracks where legend and traditions will guide your steps.
Over 2 days, forest walk to the camping site "la cocoteraie de Zimetrötr" near the superb Hnajoisisi waterfront where the first Catholic missionaries disembarked. Fishing, gathering, evening on Ngönij beach and return to the Hunëte tribe.
In the south of Maré, in the Kurine tribe, head out for Shabadran. This is an energetic walk of two and a half hours along the coral plateau taking you through spectacular scenery.
More info at: http://www.iles-loyaute.com/en/