Papua New Guinea Provinces


The most popular location in Papua New Guinea for divers, Madang Province consists of reef-fringed lowlands backed by some of the most rugged mountains in Papua New Guinea and offshore volcanic islands.

Colourful Madang township has been called the "prettiest town in the South Pacific". It's peninsula setting is a show-place of parks, waterways, luxuriant shade trees and sparkling tropical islands. Although small, the town has modern urban facilities, including hotels, department stores, markets and artefact shops. There are five hotels in Madang - The Madang Resort Hotel, Smugglers Inn, Jais Aben Resort, Malolo Plantation Resort and Madang Lodge Motel, all of which provide excellent facilites. There are few budget guest houses and lodges around Madang and some small village guest houses on several of the islands on Madang lagoon.

The area is world famous for its coral reefs and superb visibility making diving good all year round. There is a variety of easily accessible places to dive, an abundance of reef and pelagic fish, dramatic drop offs, shells and soft and hard corals.

Those who like diving on wrecks will find the reefs liberally dotted with sunken ships. Hansa Bay, the resting place for at least 34 Japanese ships, is within striking distance up the coast. Ships lie in shallow water and are now covered in corals and fish. Jais Aben Resort, just outside Madang, is a combination research station and resort hotel specially catering for divers. Diving instruction in Madang is available at Jais Aben Resort, Madang Resort Hotel and Smugglers Inn.

Game fishing is a popular sport and the coastal currents around Madang Province carry sailfish, kingfish, tuna, mackerel, barracuda, marlin, yellow fin and wahoo within 100 metres of the shore providing anglers with plenty of good sport. Fishing is especially good off the waters around Karkar and Bagabag islands.

The two volcanic islands of Manam and Karkar have volcanic cones rising 1800 metres above sea level and provide a spectacular sight for visitors.

A variety of local markets sell artefacts, shell jewellery, carvings and pottery. Tours can be arranged to visit the nearby villages of Bilbil and Yabob to see traditional clay pots being made or you can explore Madang Harbour with a morning harbour cruise. The South Coast road leads to the Balek Wildlife Sanctuary, with has strange fish-filled sulphurous caves, jungle walks, and hot springs. The Sanctuary was also location for filming scenes in the Pierce Brosnan movie "Robinson Crusoe".

Madang hosts the Mabarosa Festival each year, a colourful display of dancing, singsings and bamboo bands.

Papua New Guinea's largest tour operator, Melanesian Tourist Services (MTS) is located in Madang. They operate the MV "Melanesian Discoverer" and the Madang Resort Hotel. The "Melanesian Discover" is a luxury 42 passenger catamaran operating scheduled cruises from Madang, offering five day Sepik River cruises and one week cruises to the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay Province.

Madang is serviced by daily flights from Port Moresby via Lae and the Highlands and has a number of locally based third level airlines servicing small airstrips in the province. Helicopter charters can also be arranged. adang is also linked by road to Lae and the Highland provinces.

Map of Madang


Manus is Papua New Guinea's smallest province, both in terms of land mass and population, but has a vast sea area rich with marine life and beautiful coral reefs.

The province consists of a group of islands, known as the Admiralty Islands and a scattering of low lying atolls, mostly uninhabited, with the northern border reaching the equator.

The reefs near the atolls are accessible by outboard motor or canoe and provide superb diving and fishing. The adventurous and athletic can enjoy sea kayaking, a sport fast becoming popular among the seafaring community of Manus. Sea kayaking tours can range from day trips to a seven day tour, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy the marine life, the water ways and the scenery of Manus.

Manus, the largest of the islands, is rugged and heavily timbered with central hills rising to over 700 metres and many sharp ridges and streams. The airport is in Momote on Los Negros Island. A good road connects Los Negros to the main town of Lorengau on Manus Island.

The islands are connected by a bridge crossing the Loniu Passage. There is a pleasant waterfall and a fresh waterpool on the Lorengau River a few kilometres upstream from Lorengau town.

During World War 2, Manus was occupied by the Japanese and later by American and Australian armed forces, who spent millions of dollars constructing a huge base, airport and dock facilities at Seeadler Harbour. During wartime activity up to 600 ships anchored in the harbour. Today it is a peaceful place ringed by small islets and a magnificent reef. The rusting remains of the base can still be seen nearby.

A variety of hotels, lodge style accommodation and village guest houses are available, including the Lorengau Kohai Lodge, the Andra Guest House and the Harbour Side Hotel, all of which provide comfortable facilities for visitors.

Map of Manus


Milne Bay Province takes in the land at the extreme eastern end of Papua New Guinea together with seven groups of islands, the Trobriand, Woodlark, Laughlan, Louisiade Archipelago, the Conflict Group, the Samarai Group and the D'Entrecasteaux Group. The names come from a variety of explorers from as early as 1660 when D'Entrecasteaux sailed through and left his name behind.

Over the years, Milne Bay Province has been visited by missionaries, miners, traders in pearls, scientists and Japanese and American warships. During the war Milne Bay became a huge naval base through which hundreds of thousands of servicemen passed.

Today thousands of tourists arrive to enjoy diving around the wreckage left behind from the war. There are 160 named islands and 500 cays and atolls scattered over 250,000 square kilometres of ocean. In many parts of Milne Bay, the reefs are characterised by dramatic drop-offs, clefts and overhangs.

The most comfortable way to enjoy Milne Bay diving is aboard one of the live-aboard dive boats based out of Alotau, the provincial headquarters. The 60 foot MV "Chertan" can comfortably accommodate up to 14 divers. Built in 1992, it is equipped with the latest electronic equipment, video and stereo systems. The MV "Telita" was Papua New Guinea's first live-aboard dive boat and was designed specifically as a live-aboard diving vessel. It has five twin-berth cabins, sophisticated electronic equipment, a bar, video, stereo, a well-equipped library and a charging console for photographers.

Alotau, spectacularly sited on the edge of Milne Bay is a good base for visiting the outlying islands. Fergusson Island has an active thermal region, hot springs, bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and volcanoes. Misima Island was the scene of a 1930' gold rush from which a major mine has now been developed. Woodlark Island is populated by people of Melanesian ancestry. The islanders are renowned for their expertly crafted wood carvings.

One of the best locations to enjoy the charms of the friendly and peace loving Milne Bay people is the Trobriand Islands. Their unique social system is dominated by hereditary chieftains who continue to wield tremendous power and influence, although inheritances and lines of power are passed through the female side of the family. From June - August the Milamala yam harvest festival is held. The Milamala starts with a procession of men carrying the newly harvested yams from the garden storage hut to the village yam houses while the women ahead sing and dance. During the festival time, traditional rites are observed. It was from Malinowski's anthropological studies of the customs and sexual practices during this time that The Trobriand's became known as "The Islands of Love".

Fresh water caves are found all over Kiriwina island. Near Matawa Village there are several deep limestone caves housing burial antiquities and skeletal remains. At Wawela

there is a beautiful curving beach on a cool, deep lagoon. The village children fishing from their outrigger canoes are happy to give visitors a ride out to the reef to enjoy snorkelling. Visitors should bring their own snorkel or dive gear to Kiriwina as availability at the lodges is not constant.

Kiriwina Lodge offers basic accommodation, excellent seafood and will organise day trips.

The Trobriand Islanders will offer for sale their beautifully carved walking sticks, figurines, fish and turtle-shaped bowls made from local timbers including the much sought after ebony.

Map of Milne Bay


Morobe Province curves around the tropical waters of the Huon Gulf. The Saruwaged Mountains, rising from the sea at the tip of the Huon Peninsula are blanketed by tangled and impenetrable rainforest. To the south-west, the fertile Markham Valley rests between equally awesome ranges while the waters between Huon Peninsula and New Britain are dotted with volcanic islands.

The hinterland and coast of Morobe Province offers spectacular sightseeing, a wonderland of flora and fauna and numerous walking tracks, particularly near the Wau/Bulolo areas. A network of roads connects the capital city of Lae with Madang to the north west, through the Markham Valley to the Highlands in the west and south to the Highland areas around the Wau and Bulolo.

Lae, the second largest city in Papua New Guinea was a tiny mission station before the 1920's gold rush at Wau transformed it into a major port and industrial centre. It was the last place to farewell famous pioneering American aviator Emelia Earhart, as she took off on one of the final legs of her round the world flight before disappearing without a trace. Lae was a strategic base for the Japanese during World War 2. The graves of thousands of allied soldiers killed during battle can be visited at the Lae War Cemetery, situated within the grounds of Lae's Botanical Gardens.

A tour through the Gardens provides the visitor with a glimpse of life in the rainforest. Huge trees smothered in vines and creepers are home to brightly coloured birds and lizards and a display of exotic orchids. More recently the Rainforest Habitat, occupying an area of over 3,000 square metres, has been purpose built to create a display of some 15,000 native and exotic plants, 21 species of birds including the magnificent Raggiana Bird of Paradise as well as crocodiles, lizards, butterflies, turtles, frogs and fish.

Known as the "Garden City" modern day Lae is an attractive, tropical city well serviced by banks, international standard hotels, department stores, local markets and street stalls selling produce and artefacts. A good collection of artefacts including sand paintings can be seen at the Melanesian Arts Centre and the Morobe Arts and Handcraft shop. The Lae University of Technology also has an artefacts collection of rare and valuable pieces, Sepik carved pillars and a coffee shop built in traditional "haus tambaran" style.

Further afield, is the town of Finschhafen, first settled in 1885 by the Germans and still a majorLutheran base. Salamaua Beach to the south has excellent swimming, diving, windsurfing, trekking and tours of battle sites, tunnels and war relics. The Labu Lakes across the Markham Valley are home to crocodiles while the beaches on the ocean side around Maus Buang and Labu Tali are breeding sites for the leatherback turtle, weighing up to 500kg and measuring up to two metres in length.

Daily Air Niugini flights connect Lae with most major centres, while second and third level airlines fly regularly from smaller towns. As the Port of Lae services both international and coastal shipping it is possible to reach most northern coastal centres by boat.

Map of Morobe



Port Moresby, the nation's capital and the main entry point for international visitors does not present an immediate picture of an ideal tropical paradise. During the winter months it is dry, dusty and brown. Summer is wet, humid and overgrown. It is a place of stark contrast. Ramshackle huts sit alongside glistening glass towers, dusty plains turn corners to expose a glittering harbour and fearsome frowns turn to welcome smiles. Port Moresby opens the door to the "land of the unexpected".

The city is located in an area called the National Capital District or NCD. It is on the southern coast of the country and surrounds part of Fairfax Harbour. Port Moresby was named by Captain John Moresby in 1873. The following year a mission station was established at the village of Hanuabada, a traditional Papuan village and home to the Motuan people.

During the Second World War, the small town of Port Moresby was transformed into a large military camp, accommodating tens of thousands of troops during the Pacific campaigns. At the end of the war Port Moresby was the only town of any size left standing in Papua New Guinea and was chosen by the governing Australian administration to be the seat of government.

This was the beginning of the urban drift that brought people from almost every tribal group of Papua New Guinea to the city as well as attracting a large population of foreigners. It is now a cosmopolitan city, embracing 20th century technology and development while trying to retain the traditional values of its varied population.

It is a blend of old and new. Remnants of the colonial days can still be found in downtown Port Moresby and elements of traditional life have been maintained in the nearby villages. After being destroyed during the war, Hanuabada was rebuilt in the traditional style with its houses perched on stilts over the water. Parliament House exemplifies the striking harmony of modern architecture and traditional design. The National Museum and Art Gallery exhibits cultural features of Papua New Guinea's complex tribal lifestyles.

The annual Hiri Moale festival held every September celebrates one of the epic trading voyages between central province villagers and the people in the Gulf of Papua. It is a three day festival of traditional dance, singing and drama. During the festivities, Port Moresby's Ela Beach is lined with stilt houses, canoes and swaying dancers decorated with leis of frangipani and hibiscus.

In June people come from far and wide to take part in the singsing at the Port Moresby Show. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience and capture on film the colour and vibrancy of Papua New Guinea.

Equally colourful is the display of native orchids found at the National Botanical Gardens. The collection of over three thousand orchid species, unique to Papua New Guinea, is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They flower all year round with peak flowering season for most orchids between December to March.

Surrounding the National Capital District is Central Province, a narrow coastal strip which rises to the 4000 metre high Owen Stanley Ranges which form its northern border and divides and isolates the Province from the north. All roads out of Port Moresby lead to delightful adventure.

Only 46 kilometres from Port Moresby is the Sogeri Plateau. At 800 metres the air is cool and pleasant. Sogeri is the starting point for the famous Kokoda Trail. Nearby is the Varirata National Park. Covering an area of 1,000 hectares, it was the original hunting grounds of its tree-house dwelling landowners. At certain times of the day, birds of paradise, wallabies and deer can be seen along the walking trails. At the end of the trail the lookout presents a panoramic view of Port Moresby and the coastline. The road to Sogeri passes the historic Bomana War Cemetery and Gardens and the Moitaka Wildlife Farm, a crocodile research farm which also has a collection of native animals and birds. On Fridays visitors are able to see the crocodiles at lunch.

Yule Island, two hours drive west along the Hiritano Highway was one of the first areas to have European contact. Catholic missionaries settled here in 1885 and still maintain a presence in the area. It is a popular spot for peaceful getaways and seafood delights.

To the east, only fifteen minutes drive from Port Moresby is Loloata Island Resort, a popular destination for Port Moresby residents and a relaxing alternative for transiting visitors. Surrounded by coral reefs it offers snorkelling, diving, fishing and other water sports.

Milne Bay Air operates flights into the towns of Tapini and Woitape. After a short flight climbing into the Owen Stanley Ranges, the light aircraft lands, with little descent, onto an airstrip cut into the side of the mountain. These are popular destinations for bush walking, fishing andrelaxing.

Map of National Capital



Copyright © 2004 Embassy of Papua New Guinea to the Americas and Globescope, Inc.
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