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New Ireland

From Wikitravel
Oceania : Papua New Guinea : New Ireland
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New Ireland is a province in Papua New Guinea. [1]



  • Kavieng - the capital of the province with excellent diving, sailing, fishing and surfing.
  • Namatanai - New Ireland's second town.

Other destinations[edit]

  • Lihir Island. This is off the north coast of the main island, opposite Namatanai. Formerly cannibals, then heavily influenced by Roman Catholic missionaries, the biggest change for the people of the island came in the early 1980s when gold was discovered. The Lihir mine is estimated to hold 40 million ounces of gold, making it one of the largest in the world. The town of Londolovit is a mining town but the islanders remain spread out around the island in coastal villages. The Lihir Hotel (Ph: 986 4166, Fax: 986 4167) is at Londolovit. The economic importance of the mine is stressed by the fact that Air Niugini [2] flies to Lihir (LNV) daily.
  • Kontu. This is a town on the west coast of the main New Ireland island. This area is famous for its shark callers, men who can lure sharks to the side of their dugout canoes by singing to them.


New Ireland province is to the northeast of Papua New Guinea. It is made up of a long, narrow main island, also called New Ireland, as well as many smaller islands. Total land area is around 9600 km². The spread into the Pacific of human beings was through New Ireland and then down to the Solomon Islands. Lapita pottery has been found in a number of sites in New Ireland.

The first European explorers to arrive were Dutch, in 1616. These were followed by Abel Tasman in 1643, on his way home from discovering Tasmania. From the late 1700s the passage between New Ireland and New Britain was commonly used by vessels sailing from Sydney to England. The first missionaries arrived in 1875 and, at about the same time, came traders looking to capture the locals to work on plantations in Queensland and Fiji. This was known as "blackbirding". New Ireland was colonized by Germany in 1886 and the Germans carried on blackbirding for plantations in the Madang area. New Irelanders retaliated by capturing and eating German traders.

The area was taken over by Australia in 1914. Between 1942 and 1945 it was occupied by the Japanese. In 2000 the population was close to 120,000 people, who talk 20 languages and around 25 dialects or sub-dialects. New Ireland's economy depends on timber, coconuts, cocoa and fishing.

The traditional culture in northern New Ireland is the Malagan. Its ceremonies are large, cultural events that take place irregularly and require considerable preparation. The word malagan both refers to wooden carvings that are prepared for the ceremonies, and to the entire system of traditional culture. Malagan carvings are created for use in the ceremonies. These used to be burnt at the conclusion of the event but most are now retained, as few skilled carvers remain.


Tok Pisin, English and a couple dozen local languages.

Get in[edit]

  • Air Niugini has daily flights from Port Moresby to Kavieng and Lihir. It also has flights to Kavieng from Rabaul, Manus and other locations in PNG. [3]

Airlines PNG also flies to Kavieng from Moresby, Lae and Kokopo / Rabaul.

Travel air might start flights as well.

Reaching New Ireland by sea is done by banana boat from Kokopo. See the Namatanai article for more information.

Get around[edit]

  • The Boluminski Highway connects Kavieng with Namatanai. It is sealed for much of the way and closer to Namatanai it has a crushed white coral road surface. The road was named after Franz Boluminski who was a German District Officer. He built it by forcing villages along the coast to construct and maintain their section.

There are also a few roads connecting the east and west coast. PMVs run regularly between Kavieng and Namatanai and to most places on the west coast that are connected by road.

Banana boats run to the outer islands from different places on the main island. From Kavieng to the nearby islands and all the way to Mussau, Elotau and Tens. From Namatanai to Lihir. Ask for boats going to other islands.


The eels at Laraibina, beautiful beaches, carving traditions.



  • Surfing. New Ireland is rapidly being recognised as an excellent surfing destination. Most popular, because it is easiest to reach, is the northern end of mainland New Ireland around the Kavieng area, with North Pacific Ocean swells between November and April. There are also plenty of options down the east coast highway. Other islands are only now being identified as having great surfing possibilities.
  • Fishing. Within a few minutes of the capital, Kavieng, there is a whole range of fishing opportunities. Species include Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Yellow Fin, Skipjack and Dogtooth Tuna and the Giant Trevally. Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish), Mackerel and Wahoo are also available as well as Coral and Coronation Trout, Red Emperor, Sweetlip, Goldband Snapper and Amberjack. In the mangrove swamps there are Trevally, Cod and the Mangrove Jack. Charters are available from [4], [5] and [6].
  • Sailing. The southeast trade wind provides a steady breeze from mid-May until late October although the winds during the remainder of the year are more variable. New Ireland's proximity to the Equator means that there are no cyclones. Kavieng is often visited by yachts cruising the South West Pacific area and its port has all facilities. The outlying islands have some excellent anchorages. Yacht charters are available from [7] and [8].
  • Diving. Close to Kavieng there is a chance to dive with big pelagic fish, discover underwater walls with colourful corals and explore World War II wrecks. On the southwest coast the reefs drop steeply, offering exciting dives. The northern and northeastern coasts have extensive offshore reefs. Diving here is particularly good from August to October. Diving companies are [9] and [10].
  • Cycling. The Boluminski Highway is 265 km long. Most of it is sealed and there are not so many hills to climb. It is doable in 3 days for the fit and more for more leisurely types. Finding a bicycle is not so straight forward. There are bicycles for sale at the supermarkets in Kavieng at prices similar to western (or higher). Nusa Island resort and Tabo Meli offer organized tours but those are expensive and Tabo Meli insists on where you have to sleep and what you have to see. For independent types, John Knox rents decent mountain bikes for 60 kina per day + 45 kina if he needs to pick up the bike in Namatanai after you are done. Check the bikes well and do it the night before you start cycling to avoid delays in the morning. There are some guesthouses along the way. The one at Dalom is more affordable than the rest (80 kina). Otherwise you can always ask at a church or some friendly locals to stay. Bring some rice and tinpis to share.



Coconuts (kulau)

Stay safe[edit]

New Ireland is certainly safer than the Highlands but applying the usual common sense is always a good idea.

Get out[edit]

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