- 17 April 2018 - AIR CALIN A320 SB411 AUCKLAND-NOUMEA
Today made me realize that no matter how long you work in travel, there is always something new to learn. I just assumed (even with Travel Agent hat on), that by booking myself and my two small children to New Caledonia for the school holidays on Air Calin (SB) I might get a hour or two of peace while the kids zoned out to their own in-flight entertainment. Boy was I wrong! I did everything right (booked the kids meals, requested seats etc.) and then even went online to check-in 30hrs prior. It wasn't until I got to the check-in counter that I saw the flyer detailing how to download the app for SB's in-flight entertainment that I had a mad panic before security about getting said app onto all available devices! Lesson learnt! The flight crew did offer up a child activity pack (see, pays to book with an agent as they will make sure your child will get this!), so that kept them busy for close to an hour. It also pays to book with an agent to ensure they get their child meals. Nothing worse than a hungry child on a flight and there is nothing you can do about it. As soon as we levelled off, they bought the kids their meals - crumbed fresh fish, roast potatoes and steamed broccoli. There was also a small juice box, cookies, cheese and a brownie (which was much nicer than the adults brownie!). Overall, excellent staff - very friendly, attentive and helpful. Oh - we didn't end up using the app in-flight as you also needed headphones! A MUST as the app will not play unless a headphone is plugged in so as not to disturb other passengers.
- 18 April 2018 - AQUARIUM DES LAGONS NOUVELLE CALEDONIE
‘’The Aquarium of Noumea was the first in the world to have a permanent display of live nautilus. These ancient molluscs are caught in traps at depths between 150m and 300m. We show them in what is the closest possible approximation of their natural environment, except for pressure conditions: very faint bluish light, water temperature kept at 18° to 20°.’’ http://www.aquarium.nc/en/
I think I had more fun at the Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonia (New Caledonia Aquarium) today, than my two kids - and they are 6 and 4! I think it was more because of the exotic species on display, things I know I had never seen before: Zebra Mantis Shrimp, Shark Embryo!, Stonefish, Naso (unicorn fish), fluorescent corals and flashlight-fish, Crown-of-Thorns Starfish, Striped Jersey Snake, Loggerhead & Green Turtles and of course the Nautilus. The kids just didn’t appreciate that these are not species that we would normally see at Kelly Tarltons SeaLife Aquarium! Most impressive of all, really was the Shark Embryo. I don't know how they did it, but it was almost like a window had been made on one side of the embryo sack so that you could literally see the baby shark growing inside. Amazing (even if it was only me that appreicated it!). A MUST on the list of sightseeing in Noumea.
- 19 April 2018 - ILE AUX CANARDS
'Splash into the waters of Ile aux Canards - French for Duck Island. Despite its quirky moniker, this island isn't populated by quacking birds. It is, however, a prime snorkeling spot, with an underwater trail that's perfect for getting an up-close look at New Caledonia's vibrant tropical sea life''.
Perfect follow up to the aquarium trip we did yesterday - a half day spent at Ile aux Canards (or Duck Island). Unsure where or how it gets its name, as there are no ducks on this island (except the ones made out of wood as part of the sculpture garden). Its a perfect little day trip from Anse Vata Bay - the main tourist spot in Noumea. We caught the glass-bottom boat across to the island, and the skipper stops just short of the island for a little fish finding. Once on the island the cost to hire a 'parasol ' is 1500CPF for the day - you will want to do this as there isn't alot of shade on offer if you don't. Once settled, you can hire snorkel gear as the island has a marked 550-yard-long (500-m) route that guides you through a variety of ecosystems and marine environments. Stop at each one to read a waterproof aqua-guide that points out different creatures and features to watch for as you snorkel. I did hear many snorkellers exclaim they saw turtles!
After your aquatic exploration, grab a light lunch at a snack or drink at the bar in a traditional Kanak thatched faré (hut) on the beach. I ordered the curry chicken wrap (which was surprisingly better than I thought), but not filling to warrant the price of 1950CPF! The kids had the traditional croque-monsieur (ham and cheese toasted sandwich) which they had to pleasure of pointing out that they didn't put the cheese on the inside 'it's on the top of the bread mummy!' with the ham inside and only toasted on top so the cheese melts but the bottom of the bread is still bread and not toast! Much better value at (but, still a whopping) 1250CPF.
You can walk around the island, however it was an exceptionally windy day which didn't make for a great day to spend all day there. If I didn't know better, after the trip today I would not suggest it as an excursion with young children. Getting on and off the boat is difficult unless you have another adult to help you get the kids plus bags on and off, the whole island is coral so reef shoes are a MUST and therefore not a 'sandy' beach where they can spend their time playing, and due to the wind today, a strong current - too strong for the kids to be swimming without an adult holding them. I have been told it is a great place when the wind is not up, and I can see, after today, that it definately can be a fabulous day out.
- 20 April 2018 - SUPERMARKET HEAVEN!!!
One thing I’ve always loved to do when visiting a new country / city for the first time (sometimes even on repeat visits!), is visit the supermarket. I know, I know...why on earth would you want to do that, I can’t even stand the supermarket at home! There is just something about supermarkets overseas...mostly all the new and different products on offer, but also the same products we have at home, but in the local language (call me crazy!).
Today’s excursion was to Geant Casino, the largest supermarket chain in New Caledonia - it was on my MUST do list for this trip!!! I’ve been to this particular ‘supermarche’ before, but had forgotten the variety at this one. As soon as you walked in I saw a wall of electronics large and small - TV’s!, washing machines! cell phones! vacuum cleaners! blenders! whatever you would find in Harvey Norman or The Warehouse was in the first section of Geant. Followed by clothing - men’s, woman’s and kids, shoes, sports equipment, outdoor equipment, inflatable pool, plastic outdoor chairs the list seemed almost endless I thought I was at Rebel Sport for a moment!
That is until you continue on and then it almost becomes a ‘normal’ supermaket - but not as you know it. A deli that is almost the size of a normal asile at Pak’n’Save just on cheese! A pastry section that would have you think you were at Little and Fridays! I think its safe to say that I had a great day today!!!