Elections, an acid leak and Poindimié
It’s been a busy few weeks in New Caledonia.
Sunday saw the provincial elections much of Caledonia has been waiting for, resulting in 29 seats going to anti-independence leaders and 25 seats to the pro-independence leaders, narrowing the gap between those for and against independence for New Caledonia (you can see the full results from the election here in French). Next we will see if the 54-member Congress will see the three-fifths majority it needs to issue the first of three public independence (self-determination) referendums in the coming months.
Last Wednesday, the Vale nickel mine located in the south (Goro) had an acid leak (110,000 litres of effluent, some of it containing acid), the 6th in 5 years. Bad enough to close the plant and raise local tempers, we are waiting to hear what happens next. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) New Caledonia has said that risk management at the plant seriously needs to be addressed or the plant should be closed down; the area may not survive a 7th accident. Since the weekend, local residents have blocked access to the plant and are calling for its definitive closure. Kanak chiefs from the south were meeting about the matter today.
In the middle of all this, we travelled up to the north-eastern coast of New Caledonia – to Poindimié. Cut off from the rest of the world, apart from public wifi access near the Reception at Hotel Tieti, it was next to impossible to know what was happening more than 10 metres ahead of us. This was our first visit to Poindimié and I have to say it was our best stay up north yet. Personally, I love the north and like to go up there as often as we can. I have enjoyed Hienghene and Poum and will most likely return to Poindimié again now that we had such a great experience there.
What did we like about it?
- Just over 4 short hours outside Nouméa, and we feel like we’re in the Back of Beyond. With only 3 hours up to Koné and then 1 hour and 10 minutes across to the east coast through the mountains, the trip was more manageable than making the trek up further to Poum or to Hienghene. It actually felt quite quick!
- The beach bungalows at Hotel Tieti are large, modern, clean and beautiful, with large terraces overlooking the lagoon. Complete with a shower and full bath, we felt we were in the lap of luxury itself. To us, Hotel Tieti was hands-down the best northern New Caledonia hotel yet.
- Our meals were copious, a full, hot breakfast was included in the price of the room, and in our case, service was fast and pleasant.
- The beaches in front of the Hotel Tieti are long, quiet and empty (even on a long weekend – though I’ve been told they are slightly busier in January and February, during the high season).
- A 5-minute boat ride separates you and Ilot Tibarama, where you can dive and snorkel in what seems a tropical fish aquarium. A tiny isle, you can spend all morning there or part of the afternoon. We opted for the afternoon as a 7:30 departure felt a little too early.
- In addition to diving and all-morning snorkeling outings with Tieti Diving (including a diving initiation for children 8 and up), you can also hike, hire guides, visit Kanak lands and the tribes and learn more about the region.
- With such close proximity to the lagoon, we heard nothing but the crashing of waves at night.
- Plenty to explore, quiet to enjoy, Poindimié was the perfect combination of activity and relaxation.
For those of you who are not familiar with cagoodeal.nc, there are constant deals on the Hotel Tieti listed there (an example of 1 night free for 1 night paid here, good through 30 June), which makes a drive up north definitely worth considering. If you end up going, or have been to Poindimié and would like to share your thoughts, please do. I’d love to hear from you!