bike-it! TM   ...New Caledonia cycling adventures








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frequently asked questions
bike-it! tours



 What are the cycling conditions like in New Caledonia?

 What is the deal re language, money, phones, etc.?

 Are visas and/or vaccinations required?

 Are there any nasty animals or biting insects I need to worry about?

 What is the weather like for riding in August?

 Could wet weather cause a cancellation or changes to the ride itinerary?

 What sort of bike touring equipment do I need to bring?

 Who is providing the meals and ride snacks?

  What is the accommodation?

 Will there be a support vehicle following the group?

 What skill and fitness levels do I need?

 What is and isn't included in the ride fee?

 What about my airline tickets?

 Who is Bike-it! Tours and what company is handling the bookings?

 Will I have to sign a waiver for insurance and liability reasons?


If your question isn't mentioned above, please send us an email




 What are the cycling conditions like in New Caledonia?


There is a real diversity of cycling experiences in such a small country. It is large enough to go for extended tours, but with interesting landscapes and features close enough together to see even on a days ride. There is plenty of varied terrain to suit tourers, MTBers and those out for a pleasant morning pedal.... See more >>

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 What's the deal re language, money, phones etc?

The language in New Caledonia is French, though the indigenous Melanesians speak the Kanak language. There are eight Kanak language/culture groups, and 26 separate dialects. See Academie des Langues Kanak or Sorosoro for more on the Kanak language. In the tourist-rich areas of Noumea you can get by with English and a smattering of French. But outside Noumea you will find it difficult to communicate in English. Those in regional areas including Kanak will speak French as the common language, but in the north in some Kanak communities they may only speak in their Kanak dialect. Your guide will speak French and will mostly be able to communicate with locals on your behalf. But it is helpful and you will gain more from your trip if you can converse a little in French. See more on this at Alliance Francaise and/or join say a French language Meetup to learn at least some key phrases

New Caledonian currency is the CFP (or Comptoirs Français du Pacifique) or XPF in International code (AUD$1 = ~70-90 CFP/XPF). New Caledonia is often touted as being expensive, but with the currently high Aussie dollar, self-catering mixed with gites and camping, and avoiding 3+ star hotels and restaurants, means your expenses are possibly less than in Australia. There is a 5% services tax which is usually included in displayed prices. ATMs are plentiful in Noumea, and there is usually one or two at most towns. Major credit cards are accepted by larger places but rarely at smaller more remote places such as le snacs (food kiosks) or magasin (the local store), though EFTPOS is starting to spread.

There is both a 2G and new 3G mobile phone network, and although you should be able to purchase a local SIM card at the airport OPT kiosk on arrival for about AUD$60, previous experience suggests that this can be a hit-or-miss proposition. Good value and guaranteed reception is to buy a 1000 CFP (AUD$10) iZi phone card for use in public landline phones, though the chances of finding an operational public phone decrease dramatically the further you are from Noumea. Using your own 3G phone with global roaming and SMS combined with a phone card is probably the best solution. WiFi (pronounced "weefee") is usually available in Noumea, the larger towns and higher end accommodation and occasionally the magasin or le snacs. Global roaming with data downloads on your "smart" phone is not really that smart unless you are happy to mortgage your house on return to pay the bill!

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 Are visas and/or vaccinations required?

No and probably no. Australian and New Zealand passport holders can holiday for 3 months without a visa, but you need to have at least 6 months validity left on your passport on entry. For vaccinations, mostly it is the usual suspects that experts recommend for general travel with it seems no particular or specific vaccinations needed for New Caledonia. Once you have booked a tour with Bike-it! Tours we can help with more specific information if needed. See also the Australian Government's Smartraveller web site Lonely Planet or World Travel Guide for visas info and and for travel health see also MDTravel Health

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Are there any nasty animals or biting insects I need to worry about?

Unlike Australia, New Caledonia does not have a massive catalogue of venomous and biting creatures. Swimmers are not gong to encounter marine stingers such as the box jellyfish and Irukandji, or come across a saltwater crocodile. But like a lot of Northern Australian waters there are stonefish, venomous cowrie shells, and the occasional reef shark. Along shorelines you can find banded sea snakes (tricot raye), which although highly venomous pose little risk treated with caution as they are slow moving (on land), are quite passive and have little envenomation. According to Living National Treasures there are no endemic land snakes in New Caledonia (and I haven't seen any in the 9 trips there). In the wetter summer months (particularly February to May) and mainly in the more populated areas, there can be outbreaks of mosquito-borne Dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya. These viruses are transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitos (the ones with the white bands on the legs) that bite during the day. However August/September is the dormant period for mosquito-borne viruses as there are very few mosquitos about at this time. There are no Anopheles mosquitoes and thus no malaria in New Caledonia. Nonetheless, protecting against mosquitos bites at all times is a good precaution. On land there is the there is the redback spider, and the Little Fire Ant (or Electric Ant) has arrived to stay in New Caledonia.

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 What is the weather like for riding in August and September?

Superb! The climate is temperate in the south of the island bordering on tropical in the north, with two seasons: the cooler months of June to August with daytime temperatures in the mid-twenties and around 12-18 degrees at night; and the hotter season is mid-November to Mid-April. The best time for bike riding is the 'Goldilocks' weather in August/September -not too cold, and not too hot and sticky -just right!

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Could wet weather cause changes to the ride itinerary?

Unlikely but always a possibility, mainly for the routes that involve any river crossings, or for routes that involve longer sections on dirt surfaces. In such circumstances we will firstly look ahead to alternate routes to make the same destination, or if this is not possible, provide an alternate and comparable itinerary. Some event(s) may arise that impacts on trip safety or quality that is out of the control of Bike-it! Tours or agents and we may have to cancel either some sections of the tour or the entire tour. In that case a refund would be made, the amount of which dependent on the costs that have been expended by the provider and the particular circumstances of any cancellation. We will pretty much be riding the majority of weather conditions but usually in August and September the weather is very pleasant. In some cases there will alternatives for long periods of wet weather, but we won't be forcing you to ride! Usually the wet weather is short duration and the temperature is warm enough to not cause too much discomfort.

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 What sort of bike touring equipment do I need to bring?

Obviously the main thing is your bike. A suitable bike to bring would be a light (but strong) MTB with front suspension fitted touring/cross tyres and rear rack mounts; or a chromolly randonneur style tourer with wider tyres and good tread. Front suspension is useful,or an option is 29inch wheels teamed with solid forks. A lock-out for the front suspension is also useful for the sealed road sections to avoid "wallowing" on descents. Lightweight geared folding bikes are not recommended as the riding conditions mean bikes have to be fairly robust, and the potential for any failure or breakage being tour-ending is quite high, as there is very little in the way of rapid repair (or even repair full stop) for specialist cycling equipment, even in Noumea.

If you haven't got your own touring bike, or want to avoid any bike-on-plane hassles then there is the option to hire. This can be arranged, and the cost added to the total. Typical costs for a fully equipped tourer with clip-in pedals, rack and panniers would be about AUD$200-300 for the duration of the trip. This would be what in NC is called an VTC (velo toute carrinage) or commute/cross bike with front suspension and triple chainring If you do need to hire a bike please note this on the Bookings Form.

Once you have made a firm booking, you will be supplied with a suggested equipment list for that you may find useful in sorting out your gear and equipment to bring. We can also help you with any questions on the equipment and packing once we get closer to the ride date.

Gear carried with you on the bike is the bare minimum for the day's ride as in tropical climate piles of warm clothing are not needed, and food and accommodation is mostly provided for. The support van will carry your luggage from the previous night's accommodation to the day's destination. We will also provide lightweight tents for one or two nights camping at beachside campgrounds. The support van can assist you during the ride and gives you the comfort and security knowing that there is back-up at all times.

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 Who is providing the meals and ride snacks?

Mostly the gite or hotel or restaurant if that is were we are staying for the night. Lunches will be provided for days where the route does not pass towns or villages where lunch can easily be obtained. Any lunches outside these prepared lunches and/or ride snacks and drinks along the way are the responsibility of each rider and can be purchased at local shops when the other provisions are bought. There is also a good chance to get fruit from roadside stalls or even from roadside trees (such as sweet grapefruit and bananas) along the way. The ride itineraries/routes are chosen so that provisions can be easily purchased en route. Where there are some great places to eat along the ride we will know about them and can take you there!

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 What is the accommodation?

Accommodation ranges from the hotels to gites and auberge. The gite accommodation can be a cabin, apartment or shared bungalow. Occasionally we can stay in the traditional case (grass thatched hut). Various accommodation options can be seen at the North Region tourism web site. For the gites, accommodation will usually include bedding, hot showers, toilets, and all meals. Note that accommodation is on the basis of shared rooms. Single supplements may be possible but not always available - let us know in advance in the booking process as the cost and availability will vary from trip to trip.

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 Will there be a support vehicle following with the group?

Yes. Also called a 'sag wagon', the 8-seater van and bike trailer will be there to support the riders each day. However for some shorter off-road sections the support vehicle will take an alternate road route and meet us at the destination or where the route rejoins a trafficable road. The support van also doubles as the luggage/baggage transport, thus leaving the riders to more comfortably and safely tackle the sometimes hilly terrain. For the start and finish transits a van and trailer is used to get away from the airport on time, and to avoid the main highway. It also safely gets the group back from the north avoiding a long-hop on RT1.

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▶ 
What fitness and fitness levels do I need?

It's a holiday...so the riding is not at race pace! The level of cycling fitness needed to enjoy the rides could be described as "reasonable" to "good", but depending on which of the tours you choose. You should be comfortable completing at least 60km in a day, on trafficked rural roads, dirt roads and occasional sharp hills mixed in with flatter and longer tailwind-assisted bits and a few longer climbs. Mostly we will be carrying about 3-4kg of day riding essentials in a rear pannier, front handlebar bag or rack bag. Average touring speeds over the day (including breaks) works out to be about 15-20km/hour. Some days will involve significant hill climbing, but it is all reasonably leisurely riding at your own pace, with plenty of breaks in between.

The roads are low-trafficked sealed rural roads, with most riding on a mix of good quality unsealed roads and easily rideable forest tracks - no technical skills needed! Riders should feel comfortable riding on-road and sharing the road with passing traffic. Apart from a few steep pinches of no more than about 100m, the ascents can mostly be done using your small chainring and without having to dismount. In 2012, a tour group consisting of two riders aged in their 60s (one male, one female), one rider in his late 50s and one sprightly younger rider all reasonably comfortably completed a tour itinerary similar to this year's New-Cal Coasts & Kanak Experience.

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▶ 
What is and isn't included in the ride fee?

Please refer to the Inclusions page for details on what is and isn't included in the ride fee

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  What about my airline tickets?

Participants will need to book and pay for their air fares themselves separately from the ride bookings and payment. It is best to do this once you have submitted the Bookings Form and received a reply email from us as to places available on the ride and confirmation (subject to deposit payment). Please indicate on the Bookings Form what dates you intend to arrive and depart New Caledonia

See the Bookings for links to airlines and travel agency listings. Make sure that you have a confirmed ride booking prior to booking and paying for your flights. As per the ride itinerary we will meet you at the airport on Day 1 or the tour and drop you back at Tontouta on Day 10 of the tour.

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Who is Bike-it! Tours what company is handling the bookings?


The tours are being put together and hosted by Bruce Ashley as Director of The Environment Works Pty Ltd, ABN 49 099 689 602, trading as Bike-it Tours. Transit, back-up and services on the ground in New Caledonia are provided by Nautilus Tours, New Caledonia. For more see the Company Profile page.

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Will I have to sign a waiver for insurance and liability reasons?

The simple answer is No. The more complex answer is that Bike-it! tours will always endeavour to diligently evaluate, understand, and respond to the risks identified, rather than simply trying to manage liability through the use of waivers, insurances and legal avenues. For this reason we will not ask you to sign a waiver as such, rather before commencing the ride each day and at the conclusion of each day's ride riders will complete a sign-on/sign-off sheet. What we will do is ensure that the ride route, itinerary and conduct is done in a way that reduces and manages risk as far as practicable, and that all participants are made aware of the risks involved and are aware of the sorts of actions and behaviours and practical measures to avoid, reduce and manage risk.

Accident, permanent injury or death is a low, but inherent risk in any physical activity such as cycle touring and riding in traffic. We will endeavour to conduct the tours in a manner that minimises any risk and minimises circumstances that places a rider in a position of risk over and above that would normally be encountered in a bicycle tour of this nature. We will expect in turn, riders undertaking the tour with us will understand that there are risks involved, and to act responsibility and respect the safety of others and the instructins given. Any rider that places the safety and comfort of others at risk and/or willfully ignores safety/route advice given by the tour leader will be asked to leave the tour. In this situation no refund will be provided. Once booked, riders will be able to download a safety assessment and guidance for the ride. Prior to ride commencement, riders will be given a safety briefing, and given an emergency card with relevant contact details to attach to their bikes.

Note that Bruce Ashley/The Environment Works Pty Ltd as tour host, and Nautilus Tours who will be providing on-ground services, are not able to provide activity-specific accreditation nor insurances to cover riders for these tours in New Caledonia. Thus participants are encouraged to have their own accident insurances to cover loss and injury, and medical insurance which covers medical treatment and any emergency evacuation that may be required.


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