With the issue of this exclusive booklet of 10 self-adhesive 110 XPF stamps showcasing superb photographs by Stéphane Ducandas Daniel Maviet and Pierre-Alain Pantz, OPT-NC turns the spotlight on New Caledonia’s unique wealth of caves and waterholes.
The stamps show a selection of sites on the Main Island: the underground caves at Koumac festooned with stalactites, stalagmites and mineral draperies on the walls; the crystal clear waterhole fringed by rounded grey rocks in the upper reaches of the Rivière Bleue in the eponymous nature reserve at Yaté; the “Trou Feillet” at Sarraméa, perfect for a refreshing dip or a shady picnic; and the majestic blue hole in the Great Reef at Koné, a chasm several hundred metres deep best viewed from above.
The islands also boast some breathtaking spots: Ouvéa is home to a fascinating cave in the Northern Pleiades islets and also the Anawa waterhole, a favourite playground for sea turtles. In the south of Maré, between Tadine and Cengéïté, a track leads to a tiny land-locked lagoon set in a ring of coral rock and fringed by luxuriant vegetation, while in the north, between Tadine and La Roche, lies the Bone sinkhole, a freshwater pool of deepest blue plunging to a depth of some 40 metres. In the north of Lifou, one of the caves pitting the cliffs at Jokin Bay shelters the mortal remains of bygone chiefs of the Jokin Tribe, while the walls of the Devil’s Cave near Tingeting are decorated with ancient Kanak cave paintings.
And finally, deep in the forest near Wapan on the Isle of Pines, lies legendary Oumagni cave, known as Queen Hortense’s Cave. In the mid-19th century, Queen Hortense, daughter of Great Chief Kanedjo Vendegou, is said to have sought took refuge there to escape bitter fighting as to who should succeed him after his death.