New Caledonia Culture & Heritage

The culture in New Caledonia is varied and mixed. The locals call themselves Kanaks and are of Melanesian origin. Since the French colonisation in the eighteen hundreds many more nationalities have made New Caledonia their home, bringing a multicultural society for your holiday.

One look at the restaurants in Noumea, the capital, will show that the Chinese, Malays, Spanish, Italian and Indonesian are all residents. While travelling through New Caledonia, you will notice a strong Melanesian cultural influence in the architecture, hospitality and the arts and crafts. It is uniquely combined with the French influence, giving New Caledonia a distinct “taste of France in the South Pacific”.

The Kanak culture has brought dance to an art form. Its traditional pilou dance describes the stories of births and marriages as well as cyclones and battles. Music is still a major part of Kanak culture and is used in all ceremonies and traditions. It is very rhythmic, with conch shells and bamboo flutes being some of the local instruments. Enjoy the local Kanak culture at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre.

The older French families (Caldoches) enjoy rodeos and country fairs. Check with the Tourist Information Office in New Caledonia and use your map to find out where they are. The main island – the Grande Terre – or the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands will have one while you are there.

The French also like their coffee and so there are many cafes and alfresco dining for your enjoyment and relaxation. The Kanaks have their own food culture and integrate the local ingredients of shellfish, coconuts and herbs into a dish called bougna.