The island of New Caledonia is situated more than 1,000km off the eastern seaboard of Australia in the vast Pacific Ocean and forms part of the Melanesia region. The country is a large, South Pacific archipelago that is over 18, 000 square kilometres in extent. A seriously ancient chip off the once enormous Gondwanaland block, New Caledonia is often referred to as a biodiversity hotspot and harbors diverse habitats ranging from dense rainforest to maquis shrubland, including dry forest, savannas, wetlands and fabulous coastal reefs.
The flora on New Caledonia is quite remarkable in that it contains the highest rate of floral endemism of any island, comprising five entire families, over 100 genera and over 3,000 species!
With regards to fauna, in addition to the unique and fabulous Kagu, it hosts one of the most extraordinary aggregations of endemic birds, as well as several endemic mammals and reptiles. A visit to the mainland, or “Grande Terre”, is sure to pick up specialties such as White-bellied (New Caledonian) Goshawk, Goliath (New Caledonian) Imperial Pigeon (the world’s largest arboreal pigeon), the stunning Cloven-feathered Dove, New Caledonian and the rare Horned Parakeets, the endangered and most peculiar Crow Honeyeater, Barred Honeyeater, New Caledonian Myzomela, New Caledonian Friarbird, Yellow-bellied Robin (Flyrobin), New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, Striated Starling, Green-backed White-eye and the superb Red-throated Parrotfinch.
The island’s most famous avian denizen, however, is the incredible Kagu. Belonging to a monotypic family, in the mid-80s the Kagu was critically endangered and seemingly impossible to see. Now, thanks to concerted conservation efforts by the local park authorities, it has staged a remarkable comeback, and with special guides you have an excellent chance of seeing this “missing link” in the avian world. You will also encounter a remarkable diversity of other spectacular avian endemics and regional species. Of further particular interest is the bizarre New Caledonian Crow, which has learnt to use tools (in the form of small hooked branches) to excavate prey from holes. Contributor: David Hoddinott/Rockjumper.
Summary of birds in NEW CALEDONIA
Number of species: 189
Number of endemics: 23
The best time is April through November.