The gateway to Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’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 the National Capital District is dry, dusty and brown, while summer is wet, humid and overgrown. The area 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, on the southern coast of the country, surrounded by part of Fairfax Harbour. Port Moresby was named by Captain John Moresby in 1873 and in 1874 a mission station was established at the village of Hanuabada; a traditional Papuan village and home to the Motuan people.
During World War II, 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.
The selection of Port Moresby as the seat of government for Papua New Guinea, saw the start of urban drift that brought people from almost every tribal group to the city, as well as attracting a large population of foreigners. Port Moresby is now a cosmopolitan city, embracing 20th century technology and development, while trying to retain the traditional values of its varied population.
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.
Flora and Fauna
Equally colourful is the display of native orchids found at the National Orchid Gardens at the Adventure Park at 14 Mile. The collection of over three thousand orchid species, unique to Papua New Guinea, is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The orchids flower all year round, with peak flowering season for most being between December and March. Surrounding the National Capital District is Central Province, a narrow coastal strip which rises to the 4000 metre high Owen Stanley Ranges. The ranges form the province’s northern border and divide and isolate the Province from the north. All roads out of Port Moresby lead to delightful adventure.
THINGS TO SEE
Access and entry fees: Most land, beaches, lagoons, bays and islands in Papua New Guinea, are owned by a village, family or individual. You must ask permission for access and a small entry fee may be payable.
Fresh Food: There are fresh food and craft markets available in the city. For the best fresh fruit and vegetable markets, we recommend the fresh food markets hosted by the Pacific Adventist University every Sunday morning, please call the university +675 328-0200 for further information. For the best seafood, visit Koki market, on the waterfront near the Koki shops. The Koki Market is the main seafood market and also sells a range of fresh food and vegetables. Please always take a guide with you when visiting the Koki Market. However, you can also find a decent selection of Papua New Guinea seafood in a secure environment at the Waterfront Foodworld along Spring Garden Road.
Art and Craft:
Papua New Guinea is renowned for its art and craftsmanship. There are many opportunities for art and craft shopping to take home a souvenir. Here are a list of craft markets you can visit - please note their occurrence dates and do call the contacts provided to confirm:
* Nature's Gifts at the Port Moresby Nature Park: +675 326-0482
* Laguna Craft Market at the Laguna Hotel: +675 323-9333 (first Saturday of every month)
* Moresby Arts Theatre Craft Market: +675 325-3503 (second Saturday of every month)
* Ela Beach Craft Market: +675 325-2838 (last Saturday of every month)
* Annie's Pottery: +675 7682-8586
Parliament House: Built in the style of a Maprik Haus Tambaran (house of spirits), this impressive building was opened in 1984. Parliament House is an interesting place whether parliament is sitting or not. A small shop in the building has books and displays of Papua New Guinea’s fantastic butterflies. Open 9.00am to 12 noon and 1.00pm to 3.00pm. For tours please call the Sergeant-at-Arms Division: +675 327-7400
National Museum & Art Gallery: Located on Independence Hill, close to Parliament House, the National Museum & Art Gallery has excellent displays of fauna, culture, geography, ethnography and history of Papua New Guinea which include examples of masks and shields, shells, and local foods. A small shady courtyard in front of the museum is a pleasant place to sit, while taking in the local wildlife. The small bookshop has a limited range of books on pre-history and culture. Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 3.30pm and 1.00pm to 5.00pm on Sundays. Admission by donation. For tours please call +675 325-2422 or email [email protected]
Port Moresby Nature Park: The Port Moresby Nature Park is the country's only combined Botanical and Zoological Park and Garden. It is a haven of greenery, with two kilometres of boardwalk threading beneath a jungle canopy, green lawns, excellent wildlife displays, and a huge collection of orchids. A shade-house in the shape of the country has plants from all regions. The Park is located just beyond the University of Papua New Guinea on Waigani Drive. An entrance fee is applicable.
City and harbour views: For views of Port Moresby and the surrounding harbour, you head to Paga Hill, behind the Crowne Plaza or Touaguba Hill above the harbour. A tour of the city should include these lookout points as well as the stilt villages of Hanuabada Poreporena.
The Sports Fishing PNG fishing and boart charter company provide cruise tours of the Port Moresby Harbor on their ship the K20, please email [email protected] or call +675 325-0822
Bomana War Cemetery: Thousands of young Australian and Papua New Guinean soldiers are buried in this carefully tended World War Two cemetery, which is a heart-wrenching reminder of the horrific campaigns in the region. The cemetery is located on the Sogeri Road not far from the Sir Hubert Murray Highway. Contact the Bomana War Cemetery for tours, phone: +675 328-1536
Libraries: The Michael Somare Library and the National Library are both located at the University of Papua New Guinea, on the Waigani Campus.