Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

Papua New Guinea

  • Reviewed: 29 May 2017, 14:15 NZST
  • Still current at: 22 September 2017

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Some Risk

There is some risk to your security in Papua New Guinea due to violent crime and the potential for civil unrest and we advise caution.

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Violent crime
The law and order situation in Papua New Guinea continues to pose serious risks to travellers. Violent crime, including armed robbery, carjacking and sexual assault, is common throughout the country, especially in urban areas such as Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen. The settlement areas of urban centres, including in Port Moresby and Lae, are particularly dangerous. 

Expatriates and foreigners have been targeted for robberies and carjackings in the past. Robberies have been known to take place inside business premises in Port Moresby and other urban centres. Much crime is opportunistic but organised criminal groups also operate in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealanders in Papua New Guinea should exercise a high degree of personal security awareness at all times, especially in public places and areas frequented by foreigners. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery or carjacking, as this could lead to an escalation in violence. Avoid walking alone during the day and especially at night, and avoid displaying visible signs of wealth, such as jewellery and electronic items. Isolated public areas such as golf courses, beaches and parks can be dangerous. 

Road travel
Armed and unarmed carjackings in Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen continue to be a problem, as well as in the area between Lae and Nadzab Airport. Violence in such cases can occur, but is uncommon, especially if victims do not resist. Road travel outside of major towns can be hazardous and travel along the Highlands Highway can be affected by tribal and community disputes. Armed robbery is also a regular occurrence and roadblocks are used to stop vehicles and rob, extort or attack their occupants. Drivers are urged to take extreme caution when driving at any time of the day, and driving at night should be avoided wherever possible. If travelling at night, you should strongly consider travelling in convoy or with a security escort. Always drive with windows closed and car doors locked. Where possible, avoid smaller or remote roads with less traffic. 

Following a road accident, crowds can form quickly and may attack those perceived to be responsible. Persons involved in accidents should proceed directly to the nearest police station, rather than remain at the scene.

Visitors to Papua New Guinea should avoid using buses, known as PMVs (public motor vehicles), as they are poorly maintained and often targeted by criminals. Vehicles hired from a reputable car hire company, taxi company, or hotel transportation are a safer alternative. New Zealanders are advised to seek advice from their hotel or other trusted source on reliable car hire or taxi services.  

Civil Unrest
Tensions between ethnic or clan groups occur periodically, particularly in the Highlands region and in larger urban areas such as Lae and Port Moresby. These sometimes lead to outbreaks of tribal fighting, often involving the use of machetes or firearms. Disputes can escalate with little warning and can result in destruction of property, disruption to services and injuries or deaths. While foreigners are not usually targeted in this violence, New Zealanders should stay clear of settlement areas and avoid large crowds or gatherings. Closely monitor the media and other local information sources for advice about safety or security risks.

Protests and demonstrations occur in Papua New Guinea and in the past have resulted in violent clashes between protestors and security forces.

Papua New Guinea national elections will be held in 2017 with polling open from 24 June 2017 until 8 July 2017. There is the potential for political activity and protests in the lead up to and around the election period, which could turn violent with little warning. This could happen anywhere in the country, with the Highlands region at particular risk. There is also potential for an increase in general violent crime, lawlessness and local or tribal fighting during this period.  

New Zealanders are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and political rallies given the potential for these to turn violent with little warning. You should follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.

Local travel
New Zealanders travelling outside major urban areas in Papua New Guinea, especially to more isolated areas, should seek local advice before beginning their journey. Tourist facilities outside major towns are limited. Travel plans should be left with friends, relatives or reliable local contacts. We recommend double-checking your travel insurance to ensure you will be covered in the event of rescue or medical evacuation.

Bougainville
The central mountainous area around the old Panguna mine on Bougainville is a “no go zone” and New Zealanders are advised not to enter the area without seeking updated local advice. Foreigners who have previously entered without authorisation from the government have been questioned by the authorities and had their passports confiscated on departure from the zone. Travellers are advised to seek updated local advice before travelling south of Arawa.

Hiking Trails
New Zealanders intending to walk the Kokoda Track should hire a guide from a reputable travel company and ensure that the trekking permit is paid before embarking on the trip. For further information see the Kokoda Track Authority website or contact them on tel: +675 323 6165. Caution should be exercised as there have been attacks and robberies at each end of the trail.

Unexploded ordnance from WWII still exists in Papua New Guinea, particularly along the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay, Rabaul and Bougainville. 

General travel advice
Medical services in Papua New Guinea are very limited and New Zealanders travelling or living in Papua New Guinea should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Papua New Guinea are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips


The New Zealand High Commission Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Street Address Waigani, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Postal Address PO Box 1051, Waigani, NCD, Papua New Guinea Telephone +675 325 9444 Fax +675 325 0565 Email NZHCPMY@mfat.govt.nz Web Site http://www.mfat.govt.nz/papua-new-guinea Hours Mon - Thurs 0800 - 1200, 1300 - 1630 hrs; Fri 0800 - 1200, 1230 - 1600 hrs

See our regional advice for the Pacific

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New Zealand High Commission Papua New Guinea

Street Address
Waigani, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Telephone: +675 325 9444

Fax: +675 325 0565

Email: NZHCPMY@mfat.govt.nz

Website: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/papua-new-guinea

Hours: Mon - Thurs 0800 - 1200, 1300 - 1630 hrs; Fri 0800 - 1200, 1230 - 1600 hrs

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