When you imagine Papua New Guinea, what comes to mind?
For many travellers keen to join a surfing, fishing or diving trip on the PNG Explorer they may not have considered much beyond the excellent waves, pristine diving, and world-class fishing on offer.
So, we’d thought we’d give you six more top reasons to choose New Ireland in PNG as your next holiday destination.
- The culture
What is unique about the culture of Papua New Guinea is a diversity of more than 7,000 different cultural groups or each with their language and artistic expression. These groups each have their uniqueperformance or ‘Sing Sing’, costumes, music, carvings and even architecture.
In New Ireland, there is the Malagan culture. Malagan ceremonies are one of the most popular cultural events in this area are based around honouring the dead and the long process of mourning. Post burial, there areseries of ceremonies with feasts, singing and dancing with the traditional Malagan masks representing the dead’s relationship withthe living and their ancestors.
- The natural environment
Papua New Guinea is a remote island nation with a vast diversity of eco-systems. The geographical separation of the country means the biodiversity remains mostly untouched with new species of plants and animals still being discovered.
New Ireland offers a cross-section of the country’s environment from its volcanic topography with bubbling geysers and hot springs, to the rift valley traversing Southern New Ireland, the many cascading waterfalls and abundantfreshwaterswim holes icy cold and seemingly bubbling out of a rock. To the native tropical rainforest, complex mangrove-lined estuaries down to the fringing reef of thecoral islands.
- The hospitality
You will find Papua New Guineans to be the most welcoming people,and with generous smiles, they are happy to invite you into their villages and homes. Tourism has helped the locals hold onto their traditions,and you will find people to be very respectful and willing to share so repay them with the same. Living standards are simple, and it may be communal living traditional thatch style buildings with a dirt floor. With no electricity and running water,this may seem impossible for us, but appreciate this is all they have, and this doesn’t stop them from sharing their wealth.
- The local markets
The markets in Papua New Guinea are a must-visit, the busiest places in a town where everyone congregates to sell and buy their fruits, vegetables, seafood and crafts.
The crafts will be aimed at the tourists through carvings, shells and jewellery but also to the locals for the everyday items such as handmade baskets, homemade soaps and coconut oils. The seafood market is one of the most colourful sights with the local reef fish in eskies of ice and leaf bound mud crabs laid out by size.
Sadly, you may encounter an upturned turtle for sale, or even some small furry possum like creatures a ‘cuscus’ in cages. It’s often confronting and sad, but appreciate this practice is a way of life. It doesn’t stop you from buying a turtle – to release back to the sea. However, are we just interfering and potentially creating a future reason to line up the turtles for the tourists?
The markets offer a great way to integrate with the locals and enjoy some retail therapy, gather some souvenirs and vitally give the local communities some support.
- The birds
Papua New Guinea is home to a huge number of birds, over 700 species, including the famous birds of paradise. Its truly a bird’s watchers paradise and attracts visitors from all around the world for the opportunity to just look and photograph any of these species.
Locally to New Ireland alone, birders come to spot the beautiful Nicobar Pigeon or the elusive Mussau Warbler. Interestingly at one point, the local resort in Kavieng, Nusa Island retreat has developed into a bird sanctuary of sorts and sitting at their bare-foot bar you can spot this rare pigeon walking around the resort! Not quite in its native environment, but it ticks the box.
Furthermore, Birdscientists recently spent years trying to understand why the critically endangered seabird, the Becks petrel flocks in numbers farmore significant thanelsewhere in the pacific along the Southern New Ireland coastline.
- The war history
During World War IImuch of PNG was occupiedby the Japanese, and later fighting ensued from attacks from the allied forces, this was a brutal encounter with many deaths andcarnage. Many warships and planes still rest in the jungle and water at the exact locationthey were brought down.
Lying undisturbed in the deep sea, just off the fringing reef in Cape Vogel, lies the US B-17F Blackjack. This is regarded as one of the best aircraft wrecks in PNG. In 2019 in Kavieng town, a road development led to the discovery of an underground bunker, perhaps used by the Japanese for storage of ammunitions or to avoid hostile fighting. It’s a significant find for Kavieng’s wartime history.