Aerial view of the Tao waterfall in Hienghène, on the east coast of New Caledonia.Tao waterfall Hienghène
©Tao waterfall Hienghène|Ben Thouard - The Explorers

10 best things to do in Hienghène

Nestled along the coastline with picturesque ocean views, captivating waterfalls, and vibrant Kanak tribes, Hienghène encapsulates the essence of New Caledonia’s east coast. While the iconic ferry crossing remains a highlight, Hienghène offers a plethora of other adventures, including hiking the GR® Nord, immersing in Kanak culture during tribe stays, swimming beneath the Tao and Colnett waterfalls, kayaking, diving, and more. Dominated by Mont Panié, Hienghène and its environs showcase the authentic charm of New Caledonia.

Seeking inspiration? Here are 10 must-do activities for your Hienghène stay.

Bathe in Tao and Colnett waterfalls

Among the many waterfalls on the East Coast, Tao and Colnett stand out as the most stunning. On a sunny day, take a 30-minute walk through lush vegetation to reach Tao Waterfall, where the breathtaking view and refreshing natural basins await. A little further south in Pouébo, pause for a photo break at the magnificent Colnett Waterfall.

Follow the Corniche road

The Corniche Road is an idyllic route for road trips along the East Coast. As you wind your way from Pouébo to Hienghène, relish the mesmerising vistas of the ocean and cliffs on this narrow, meandering road. The awe-inspiring scenery along the journey promises unforgettable photographic memories. And be sure to strike a pose in front of the famous “Brooding Hen” landmark as you approach Hienghène!

Immerse yourself in Kanak culture

with a tribal stay

Experience the daily life of the Kanak people by staying with one of the many tribes in Hienghène. Participate in creek shrimp fishing, learn the art of weaving, assist in bougna preparation, and join guided tours of the fields and forests. Expect profound emotions and cultural exchanges during your stay.

Kayak amongst the rock formations

Explore the fascinating animal-like rock formations, including “The Hen,” by embarking on a kayak adventure. Begin by admiring these natural wonders from a distance before approaching to observe their contours and unique black limestone, formed through quarts processes. Don’t forget to capture a memorable photo of “The Hen” from your kayak!

Relaxing at ‘Billet de 500’ beach

Wondering about the peculiar name? This beach derives its moniker from a rock formation on the shore, once depicted on 500 XPF banknotes of the same denomination. It is said that when viewed from the sea, the rock resembles the face of a Kanak. Take a leisurely break here to admire both the distinctive rock and the beauty of the beach.

Hike the GR® Nord

The GR® Nord Trail leads you through remarkable landscapes, ranging from ridges to waterfalls, rivers, and niaouli savannahs. What makes this trail truly special is the opportunity to traverse customary lands, providing insights into the Kanak tribes’ way of life. In the evenings, refuges run by local tribal hosts offer a glimpse into Kanak customs and traditions.

Cross the Ouaième river

For a truly unique experience, board New Caledonia’s last operational ferry on the Ouaième River. Enjoy the picturesque and magnificent panorama as you disembark from your vehicle to capture this timeless moment. You’ll have 5 minutes to savour the leisurely pace of the crossing.

Explore Hienghène Bay

and its islets

Discover breathtaking, uninhabited islets throughout the Caledonian archipelago. Hienghène promises an off-the-beaten-track experience. Explore the botanical trail on Hienga Islet to learn about local flora and enjoy snorkelling. Alternatively, take a 15-minute water taxi ride from the Hienghène marina to reach Hiengabat Islet. As you move away from the village, revel in the spectacular vistas of Hienghène and the distant mountains!

Dive into UNESCO World Heritage Lagoon

Embark on a must-do activity in New Caledonia: snorkelling! Armed with a simple mask, fins, and snorkel, you can observe a variety of colourful fish around the lagoon’s islets. If you’re a certified diver, take your exploration of the lagoon to the next level with organised scuba diving excursions and introductory dives.

Stroll along the marina

Hienghène’s town centre extends along a serene marina, adorned with a few moored boats. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the estuary to soak up the tranquil atmosphere. Explore a small grocery store, browse market stalls, relax on a sunny bench, and visit the Tourism Office for advice and brochures about the area. Don’t forget to capture the picturesque estuary as cruise passengers disembark from boats!

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With its mountainous landscapes, magnificent waterfalls, rich Kanak culture, and mystical ambiance, Hienghène offers a diverse range of experiences for an unforgettable sojourn on New Caledonia’s East Coast!