New Caledonia - Money & Costs
Money & Costs in New CaledoniaCurrency: Cour de Franc Pacifique
New Caledonia is not for skinflints, and in the Pacific only French Polynesia costs more. Most food has to be imported and is consequently pricey, and even locally produced food is on a par with imports. You could scrape by on US$20 a day on Noumea if you stay in the HI Hostel, eat bread, cheese and fruit from the markets and do little more than hitch to the beach every day. But if you stay in a budget hotel, eat a few meals in snack bars and take in some sights the argent starts burning a hole in your poche, and you'll easily be shelling out US$70 a day. And of course if you dine out every night, stay in the swishest hotels and don't mind what you spend on tours, you'll quickly shell out US$200 or more.
All banks charge a US$5 commission on cash (except for euros) or travellers cheque transactions. Only the American Express office in Noumea doesn't levy this fee. ATMs are located mostly in Noumea; they accept MasterCard, Visa, Eurocard and Carte Bleue, and the max you can withdraw in any week is US$350. The duty free shops, airline offices, hotels and restaurants in Noumea accept major credit cards, but you'll only be able to use them at major hotels outside the capital.
Tipping is refreshingly absent. According to Melanesian custom a tip is seen as a gift and imposes an obligation on the receiver to return the favour, although in the European-run restaurants if you round up the bill or leave the change it's unlikely that they'll throw the money back in your face. Neither will you have much scope for bargaining in the local markets: if a price is asked that's what the seller wants for it, and it would be ill-mannered to bargain for anything lower.