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School exchanges to New Caledonia

New Caledonia traditional costume

I just love this little girl all dressed up in traditional costume, to dance like no one’s watching

When I was at school in Hastings we had a school camp trip to Opoutama. It was about two hours drive away and we stayed in chalet-shaped huts near the beach and ate the food our parent-helpers made. I’ll leave it at that.

These days kids go on sports trips to Australia, music trips to Japan, language trips to Europe. A lot has changed since my day!

But in 7th form (that’s how old school I am) I went on an AFS exchange trip for a year to the US. It was a life changing experience and I am a huge advocate of school exchanges for the way they open the eyes of a young person to see how other people live, how they think and build lifelong bridges of friendship and cultural understanding.

New Caledonia is really popular for school trips, and with good reason.

Why? It is a little piece of France in the South Pacific.

New Caledonia is thee perfect place for a short-term, culturally impacting school exchange where students get a taste of this unique French/Melanesian culture and people, and indeed many schools in New Zealand and Australia are already converted to this experience for their French language students.

Just like my exchange (except these are typically for 1 week instead of 1 year) students are billeted by local families and each day they will be immersed in French culture. They attend language school in the mornings and explore Noumea and other parts of this beautiful tropical island, just two-and-a-half hours flight from Auckland, in the afternoons with their teachers.

Noumea beach, New Caledonia

Noumea beach for picnics, swimming, snorkelling, sunning…

Some of the highlights include visiting the architecturally stunning Tjibaou Cultural Centre to learn about the native Kanak people, their heritage and their traditions. There’s plenty of opportunity to go snorkelling, swimming, and crucially practice reading and speaking French while shopping at the local supermarket and interacting with their families.

You can expect your teens to return begging to take you back on a family holiday!

If you’d like more information on the French immersion school (for kids and adults) click here to the CREIPAC website >>>


Click here for my blog on 5 reasons to go to New Caledonia for a holiday if you need a teensy bit more convincing 🙂

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ella clarke

Thursday 21st of June 2018

how long is the programme?? will i be able to go with my friends?? what are the costs?? thank you


Thursday 21st of June 2018

Hi Ella, sorry I just saw the link was broken to their website. You can click on it now and make contact with them direct.


Tuesday 11th of July 2017

Megan, We are cruising to Easo, Kuto, and Noumea. Can you tell me if the school children are in need of school supplies, crayons, glue, pencils, etc? When we travel we try to bring extra supplies for the students that are in need, just a few things to make their education a little easier. Thanks, Martha


Tuesday 11th of July 2017

Hi Martha, I'm not sure to be honest. I would think the schools in Noumea might be ok as it's quite a cosmopolitan town, but up north and into the hill tribe areas things like school books and pens, even hair clips for the girls which I've taken to Fiji and Vanuatu before, might be appreciated. Lovely thought! :)

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!