It was a tough long-weekend for 30 Australian trade, bloggers and media, as they sipped on champagne, snorkelled through pristine lagoons and relaxed in luxury accommodation.

The group departed Melbourne on Friday 6 June for the inaugural Aircalin flight, starting the celebrations early with French champagne and business class meals, whilst savouring the sunset from the sky.

The group were then greeted with a traditional New Caledonian welcome by local Kanak musicians, before everyone was presented with handmade floral leis and whisked off to a French infused VIP reception hosted by Le Meridien Noumea.

An eventful itinerary followed over the next four days, inclusive of accommodation at the Chateau Royal Beach Resort and Spa and the Hilton La Promenade Noumea, shopping at Port Moselle Markets, day trips to the Isle of Pines and L’Escapade Hotel, beach relaxation, and completed with a cocktail party hosted by the President of New Caledonia, Madame Ligeard at the Chateau Royal.

The group balanced their daily island exploration and activities with an ample diet of New Caledonia’s delicious gastronomic delights, every mouthful a unique blend of French cuisine and local produce. Over the course of the weekend guests sampled New Caledonia’s famous prawns, Isle of Pines escargot cooked in garlic and French butter, local fruits and of course, the iconic croissants, macaroons and champagne.

Aircalin’s new services depart twice weekly from Melbourne on Tuesdays and Fridays in both directions and will increase to three services per week from late October. All flights are full-service offering complimentary meals and beverages along with one piece of luggage up to 23 kilograms at no additional cost.

Flying Aircalin, New Caledonia is two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and now with the new direct flight, just under four hours from Melbourne. New Caledonia is ideal for a week-long getaway, with travellers able to depart on Friday and arrive in time for a delicious, authentic French dining experience to start their unique island escape.

For more information on New Caledonia visit New Caledonia Tourism’s new website and for more information on Aircalin visit aircalin.com.

New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil participants receive traditional Kanak welcome at Tontouta Airport in Noumea.

New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil participants receive traditional Kanak welcome at Tontouta Airport in Noumea.

L-R, KJ Slater, Victoria Sales Representative for Aircalin and New Caledonia Tourism, Caroline Brunel, Australia Representative New Caledonia Tourism, Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin arrive Tontouta Airport in Noumea off the inaugural Melbourne Flight.

L-R, KJ Slater, Victoria Sales Representative for Aircalin and New Caledonia Tourism, Caroline Brunel, Australia Representative New Caledonia Tourism, Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin arrive Tontouta Airport in Noumea off the inaugural Melbourne Flight.

New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil group shot after a busy day of water activities and exploring on Escapade Island Resort.

New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil group shot after a busy day of water activities and exploring on Escapade Island Resort.

Blogger, Super Kawaii Mamma, Photographer, Kian Bourke-Steer, NSW Sales Manager, Rob Bound, G.E.T. Tours receive a traditional Kanak welcome at Tontouta Airport, Noumea.

Blogger, Super Kawaii Mamma, Photographer, Kian Bourke-Steer, NSW Sales Manager, Rob Bound, G.E.T. Tours receive a traditional Kanak welcome at Tontouta Airport, Noumea.

President Madame Ligeard – President Madame Ligeard with guests at New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil welcome cocktail party.

President Madame Ligeard – President Madame Ligeard with guests at New Caledonia Tourism and Aircalin Inaugural Melbourne Flight Famil welcome cocktail party.

St Maurice Isle of Pines- L-R, Joe Karbo, General Manager, Excite Holidays; Rob Bound, NSW Sales Manager, G.E.T. Tours; Nadia Giusti, Business Development Manager VIC/TAS/SA, Pinpoint Travel; Jaharn Giles, Blogger, Mr Weekender; Aleks Devic, Escape Supplement; Helen Johnson, Journalist, Leader Newspapers; Brittany Doswett, Travel Product Manager, Wotif Group, Candice Bailey, Blogger, Super Kawaii Mamma, Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin at St Maurice on the Isle of Pines.

St Maurice Isle of Pines- L-R, Joe Karbo, General Manager, Excite Holidays; Rob Bound, NSW Sales Manager, G.E.T. Tours; Nadia Giusti, Business Development Manager VIC/TAS/SA, Pinpoint Travel; Jaharn Giles, Blogger, Mr Weekender; Aleks Devic, Escape Supplement; Helen Johnson, Journalist, Leader Newspapers; Brittany Doswett, Travel Product Manager, Wotif Group, Candice Bailey, Blogger, Super Kawaii Mamma, Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin at St Maurice on the Isle of Pines.

Australian Consul General, Ms Heidi Bootle; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors; Adrian Weeks, Trade Commissioner Pacific, Austrade; Lisa Martin, Journalist, AAP; Sharon Claverotte, Assistant to Australian Consul General.

Australian Consul General, Ms Heidi Bootle; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors; Adrian Weeks, Trade Commissioner Pacific, Austrade; Lisa Martin, Journalist, AAP; Sharon Claverotte, Assistant to Australian Consul General.

Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin; Natalie Birk, Marketing Manager, Coral Seas; Nadia Giusti, Business Development Manager VIC/TAS/SA, Pinpoint Travel; Helen Johnson, Journalist, Leader Newspapers; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors; Stacey Harding, Sales Manager, Omniche Holidays; Joanna Garrie, Regional Manager NZ & South Pacific, Tourism Victoria.

Ken Triffit, General Manager Australia, Aircalin; Natalie Birk, Marketing Manager, Coral Seas; Nadia Giusti, Business Development Manager VIC/TAS/SA, Pinpoint Travel; Helen Johnson, Journalist, Leader Newspapers; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors; Stacey Harding, Sales Manager, Omniche Holidays; Joanna Garrie, Regional Manager NZ & South Pacific, Tourism Victoria.

Stacey Harding, Sales Manager, Omniche Holidays; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors.

Stacey Harding, Sales Manager, Omniche Holidays; Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Manager, Travel Counsellors.

The launch of the inaugural flight was further maximised through social media with all participants posting their favourite moments on social media using the hashtags #Aircalinmelbourne #Haveitall #Firstflightmelbnewcal, #Newcaledonia.

Did you attend the launch?