If you’re the kind of person who lives for a challenge, goes for a 10km run before breakfast and would rather go on a hike than a sight-seeing tour, then New Caledonia is the destination for you.
Besides the cliché image of drinking mojitos on the beachfront in Noumea (great in small doses), New Caledonia has an athletic and outdoor-crazed population who are mad keen on trail running and adventure sports. They jam-pack the annual calendar with events that are worth building a holiday around. Check out what’s scheduled for 2020:
New Caledonia Ultra Trail Festival | May
This trail festival is spectacular due to the ever-changing landscapes along the way. Ochre red earth is contrasted by the deep blues of the lagoon behind. Steep mountain passes act as the ultimate challenge but the views from the top will act as a welcome distraction from burning legs. The main event has recently been upgraded to 135 km long with a positive elevation gain of 6 200 m, starting and finishing in Plum (20 km drive from Nouméa). Race organizers also deliver 55km and 13km disciplines alongside the event in case the thought of 135km makes your head spin.
Groupama Race – Sail Around New Caledonia | June
The Groupama Race is an ambitious 1,500km non-stop sailing race around New Caledonia – a key event in the international sailing calendar. The course can take from two to five days depending on the weather and the boat, and starts and finishes in Noumea.
Sailors navigate alongside reefs and inside the UNESCO World Heritage listed lagoon, with only one compulsory waypoint: “North of the Grand Passage.” Given the strong winds, powerful currents and heavy swells in the extreme north, the race is up the east coast and down the west coast… non-stop, without rest and with a regular soaking from the warm seas of 22° south. The Sydney-Hobart has its Bass Strait; the Groupama Race has its mythic Grand Passage, where you will surf down big waves and see plenty of wildlife. Keep a careful eye on those humpback whales.
Trans Caledonian Southern Province Mountain Adventure Race | July
This is a two-day endurance event traversing New Caledonia’s southern mountain chain. From the hardiest experienced trekker to families with younger children, choose from race distances between five kilometres and 50 kilometres. Racers are guided through the hinterland with the help of local tribesmen, experiencing gruelling terrain and parts of New Caledonia that are well beyond the borders of standard adventure.
This athletic event, one of the most anticipated events of the year, alternates between the provinces of the North and the South, and always offers challenging obstacles for the best athletes.
New Caledonia International Marathon | August
There is no better way to celebrate running 42km – minutes after crossing the finish line than immersing your aching body into the cool waters of Anse Vata beach in Noumea. It’s the location of this marathon that makes it the most special, with a course overlooking the coral barrier reef that New Caledonia is famous for.
Going for nearly forty years, this race usually gets over 10,000 entrants. Open to all runners aged 20 and over, the Marathon is an Olympic-level qualifying event for the French Championships and receives strong international participation.
Megarando Mountain Biking Event | August
Take a long weekend exploring the Deva Domain and join the ultimate cross-country biking event. On nearly 8,000 hectares , this biodiversity treasure is home to 10% of the New Caledonian dry forest and 13 kilometers of World Heritage coastline. Ecosystems are preserved and enhanced through the development of nature sports, and trails have developed especially to showcase this unique environment.
The Megarando was the first MTB event in this area and the biggest sporting event in the territory, bringing nearly 1,500 amateur cyclists from all over New Caledonia and abroad. Key events include a night ride on marked trails, missioning through the savannah to niaouli and its particularly rich fauna. Complex to organize, the mountain bike at night provides un unforgettable MTB experience.
PWA Windsurfing World Cup Events | November
The New Caledonian lagoon is an incredible playground for flat-water activities. With around 120 days of wind per year, you’re set up with ideal perfect conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. In Nouméa, Anse Vata is the mythical gathering spot for all windsurfers, and even if you’re not at World Cup level, you can enjoy the vibe here and try your hand at windsurfing. Not a day passes without the shorelines being overtaken by a frenetic ballet of windsurf sails that speed between here and nearby Ilot Canard.
This is why international kitesurfing and windsurfing events choose to have their World Cups here. The 2020 event dates are still to be announced, but these usually happen in late October and early November.
Fly to New Caledonia with Air Calin https://nz.aircalin.com
Base yourself at the Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa, Noumea