Index


Introduction



In New Caledonia, an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean to the 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 unpleasant, although the breezes make it more bearable; 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.
- In the cool and relatively dry season, from June to August or September, 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 they can sometimes 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.
- The two intermediate seasons, in April-May and October-November, are characterized by comfortable temperatures, around 26/27 °C (79/81 °F) during the day, while the amount of rainfall 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 can be seen in the following table, concerning the rainfall on the island of Lifou.
Lifou - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)195245320250130120110707080701501815
Prec.(in)7,79,612,69,85,14,74,32,82,83,12,85,971,5
Days141313121211111212131414150

Main island



On the main island (Grande Terre), 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), therefore, some areas are almost arid. However, in New Caledonia, the rains are quite irregular from one year to another, 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) high, and Mont Humboldt, 1,618 meters (5,308 feet) high.

Nouméa

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

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. Here is the average precipitation.
Nouméa - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)115125150105851157065405060801060
Prec.(in)4,54,95,94,13,34,52,82,61,622,43,141,7
Days10912101010987457101

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. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
Nouméa - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours876765667888

The sea 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). Here is the average sea temperature in Nouméa.
Nouméa - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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 in the past 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, and Evan in December 2012.

New Caledonia

In addition, New Caledonia is affected by the climate cycle called ENSO. During El Niño years, the weather in New Caledonia 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 La Niña years, it becomes rainier than usual from December to February and warmer than usual from June to August.

Best Time



The best time to visit New Caledonia is the austral spring, ie October and 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, in April, however, 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 it can sometimes be a bit 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 an umbrella. When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes. For Mont Panié, bring hiking boots, a sweatshirt, and 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, and a light raincoat or umbrella.

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