Known as Kunie to its Melanesian inhabitants, the island is part of the French-Pacific territory, New Caledonia. Situated at the southern tip of this archipelago, it sits almost astride the Tropic of Capricorn at 167 longitude and 22 latitude south. Pacific map

The name, Isle of Pines, was bestowed by Captain James Cook, the intrepid English explorer, in 1774, when on his second voyage to New Zealand.

The island lies a hundred kilometres south-east of the New Caledonian capital, Noumea. This bustling, nickel-smelting city of approximately 100,000 inhabitants is 1 900 kms from Sydney (or two and a half hours’ flight) and approximately the same distance from Auckland, New Zealand. Paris is more than 16 000 kms or 24 hours’ flight away.