In New Caledonia, an archipelago located in the Pacific, south of the Equator, the climate is tropical, influenced by the trade winds, with a hot and rainy season, a cool and drier season, and two intermediate periods.
- The hot season, humid and rainy, runs from late December to late March. The temperatures in this season are high, around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) during the day, but with peaks of 35 °C (95 °F). The humid heat is felt, although the breezes make it less unpleasant; rain showers and thunderstorms are frequent. Rainfall is more abundant in inland elevations and on the north-eastern coast of the main island, where it exceeds 300 millimeters (12 inches) in the wettest month (March), while on the west coast it ranges from 200 mm (8 in) in the north, to 150 mm (6 in) in the south (see Nouméa). In addition, in this period the country can be hit by tropical cyclones (see below). However, even in this period, between heavy showers, the sun shines.
- A cool season, and with little rainfall, from June to August or September, during which average highs drop to around 23/24 °C (73/75 °F) and lows to 17/18 °C (63/64 °F), which in themselves would still be acceptable temperatures, but sometimes they can drop below, in fact there can be some days with maximum temperatures around 20 °C (68 °F), furthermore, the wind can increase the feeling of coolness. Some showers can occur even in this period, most likely along the northern coast of the main island (see Poindimié), where the proximity of mountain slopes enhances the formation of thunderclouds.
- Two intermediate seasons, April-May and October-November, characterized by a comfortable temperature, around 26/27 °C (79/81 °F) during the day, while the amount of rain is acceptable in the latter period, and a bit higher in the former one, especially in April and in the rainiest areas.

On the smaller islands, annual precipitation amounts to around 1,500/1,800 mm (60/70 in), as you can be seen in the following table, concerning the rainfall on the island of Lifou.
Lifou - Average precipitation

Main island

On the main island, rainfall varies with slope exposure and proximity to the mountains: in general, the north-facing coast receives more rainfall than the one exposed to the south. In fact, precipitation amounts to 2,600 mm (102 in) per year in Poindimié, with a minimum of about 90 mm (3.5 in) in August and September, and to 1,900 mm (75 in) per year in Pouébo, while on the southern coast it ranges from 800 to 1,200 mm (31 to 47 in) and, as a consequence, some areas are almost arid. In Nouméa, in the south-west, 1,050 mm (41.5 in) of rain fall per year, with a maximum of 150 mm (6 in) in March and a minimum of 40/60 mm (1.6/2.4 in) per month from September to November. However, from year to year in New Caledonia the rains are quite irregular, so they are quite unpredictable.
As mentioned, in the interior of the main island we find some mountain slopes, in fact it is crossed by a mountain range, whose highest peaks are Mont Panié, 1,629 meters (5,344 feet), and Mont Humboldt, 1,618 meters (5,308 feet).


Here are the average temperatures of Nouméa, the capital, situated on the southern coast of the main island (Grande Terre).
Nouméa - Average temperatures
Min (°C)232323222019171718192122
Max (°C)292929272624232324262729
Min (°F)737373726866636364667072
Max (°F)848484817975737375798184

Here is the average precipitation in Nouméa.
Nouméa - Average precipitation

The amount of sunshine is not very good, nor scarce: it does not vary much over the seasons, and remains decent even in the wettest months.
Nouméa - Sunshine

The sea temperature is always warm enough for swimming, although it drops to 23 °C (73 °F) from July to October; on the northernmost islands (Belep Islands) it is just higher (about one degree Celsius).
Nouméa - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)262727262524232323232526
Temp (°F)798181797775737373737779

Tropical cyclones

New Caledonia can be affected by tropical cyclones. Cyclones are usually formed from November to mid-May, though they are most likely from late December to early April. Some intense cyclones that hit New Caledonia were Coleen in February 1969, Anne in January 1988, Esau in February 1992, Sose in April 2001, Beni in January 2003, Erica in March 2003, Jasmine in February 2012, Evan in December 2012.

New Caledonia

In addition, New Caledonia is affected by the climate cycle called ENSO. During the years of El Niño, in New Caledonia the weather tends to be drier than normal from December to February, and drier and cooler than normal from June to August. On the other hand, during the years of La Niña, it becomes rainier than usual from December to February and warmer from June to August.

Best Time

The best time to visit New Caledonia is the austral spring, ie October-November: the temperature is pleasant, the sun shines, the rains are generally not excessive, especially on the southern side of the main island and on the smaller islands. On the southern side of the main island, the rains are acceptable even in April and May, however, in April there's still some chance of cyclones or tropical storms, but this happens also in November (even though they are statistically rare). So, all in all the best month is probably October. From June to September, in the austral winter, the weather can be nice, but sometimes it can be a little cool for swimming and sunbathing, especially for those who are sensitive to cold: in these cases you can opt for an excursion.

What to pack

In winter (June to August): bring light clothes for the day, a scarf for the breeze, a sweatshirt and possibly a light jacket for the evening; a light raincoat or umbrella. When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes. For Mont Panié, hiking boots, a sweatshirt, a raincoat.

In summer (December to February): bring tropics-friendly, loose-fitting clothing, a sun hat, a scarf for the breeze, a light sweatshirt for the evening, a light raincoat or umbrella.

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