Transport in Papua New Guinea
Travel around the country is mainly by air, as the rugged mountain ranges on the mainland have largely prevented the development of an extensive road network. The national capital of Port Moresby isn’t linked to the Highlands or north coast, although there are coastal roads running east and west of the capital. The key road is the Highlands Highway, which runs from the city of Lae to the highland towns of Goroka and Mount Hagan. Madang is connected to the highway via Ramu Highway at Watarais. There are also good roads on New Britain and New Ireland, a legacy of the German settlers.
The national flag carrier – Air Niugini – services all the provincial centres, and there are also smaller airlines serving the more remote parts of the country. Some flights to very remote areas are only available once or twice a week but charters can be arranged. Always confirm flight schedules with the airline operators before your flight, as these may change from time to time depending on passenger loads. Charter and helicopter hire services are also available by prior arrangement.
Coastal shipping companies, Rabaul Shipping and Lutheran Shipping, service New Guinea Islands, Wewak, Madang, Lae, Popondetta and Alotau ports. Services to some of these ports are irregular so intending passengers are advised to confirm with respective shipping companies or agents to confirm routine schedules.
Dive operators will often charter their boats, especially at the dive centres of Milne Bay and Lae. There are also yacht clubs at Moresby, Lae, Wewak, Madang and Rabaul. For shorter distances at a reasonable fare – and an exciting ride bouncing over the waves – you can catch a local banana boat (a dinghy with an outboard), or a motorised canoe.
Passenger Motor Vehicles (PMVs)
Passenger motor vehicles (PMVs) are available in the main centres within city boundaries. They are mostly about 50t in Port Moresby and Lae, and follow a variety of routes. However, fares for other centres vary due to their respective distances. PMV buses provide services on the Okuk Highway that runs to the Highlands provinces from both Lae and Madang.
Driving is on the left.
- International drivers licences are converted into a local licence at the Motor Vehicle Insurance Office, PO Box 1157, Port Moresby.
The speed limit is 60km/h in towns and 75km/h out of town. The legal driving age is 18 years old.
- Take special care when driving as the road conditions can be difficult. Watch out for pedestrians and other drivers, stalled vehicles and speed humps in the suburbs.
A valid overseas licence is required to rent a car. Most main centres hire out cars but the limited road network and the high costs can be restrictive. Driving at night is not advisable.
There are petrol stations in all provincial centres, although petrol prices will differ from place to place depending on the cost of freight. Credit cards are not generally accepted at service stations.
Taxi services are available in Port Moresby and a few provincial centres around the country. Taxis have a fixed sign on top of the roof, and may be a car or double cab with an open back, depending on road conditions in the area. Negotiate the price prior to the journey, as there are no meters.