The simplest and easiest way to explore the Main Island, the Loyalty Islands or the Isle of Pines is by car.
- Road traffic regulations
- Where can I rent a car?
- What sort of vehicle should I rent?
- What’s the cost?
Road traffic regulations
They are the same as in France: you drive on the right, you overtake on the left and you give way to traffic coming from your right (except on roundabouts where you give way to traffic already on the roundabout and thus coming from your left).
The speed limit is generally 50 km/h in built-up areas and 110 km/h maximum on main roads.
For stays of less than 6 months, you only need your home country driving licence officially translated into French or an international driving licence to drive in New Caledonia.
Depending on which car rental firm you use, all drivers must be at least 21 years old and have held a valid driving licence for at least 2 or 3 years.
The road system is well maintained but you should still be vigilant. Some rural roads can be narrow and winding, and there is even a timed traffic road where traffic is restricted to alternate directions according to a set timetable!
Where can I rent a car?
Various international car rental firms have offices at Tontouta International Airport. You’ll find a list of car rental firms at www.cci.nc/aeroports/aeroport-de-noumea-la-tontouta.
The car rental firms also have offices in Nouméa. And if you’re planning a trip to one of the Loyalty Islands or the Isle of Pines, you won’t have any trouble finding car rentals on the spot.
Note: although there are plenty of car rental services on the islands, the number of available vehicles can be limited so it’s advisable to book your car ahead of your stay.
What sort of vehicle should I rent?
There are a great many 4WD SUVs and pickup trucks on the roads in New Caledonia but this doesn’t mean you are obliged to rent a 4WD.
It all depends on what you plan to do. If you’re only planning to drive on sealed roads, a standard 2WD car is fine, preferably a model with good ground clearance.
If you’re planning to venture off the beaten track and try your hand on minor motorable roads in the mountains, opt for a 4WD model with high ground clearance.
What’s the cost?
Car rental costs are fairly similar to those found in France. There are two bits of good news: fuel prices are lower in New Caledonia than in France, for example, and the price per litre is the same wherever you are in the country!