Eastern Highlands Province: Papua New Guinea Business Guide


Eastern Highlands Province features steep mountains and low coastal areas in the Markham and Ramu valleys. The two highest peaks are Mt Tabletop and Mt Michael, which rise at a height of more than 3000 metres above sea level. The valleys tend to be dominated by grassland while higher altitudes feature rain forests, beech forests and the palm-like pandanus species.

A sea of people and produce at market day in Goroka. Credit: Siva Kina


Economic overview

Eastern Highland’s main industry is coffee. The province produces an array of distinct coffees. Many of the growing areas are over 2000 metres above sea level and harvesting typically starts in May and ends in August to September. Eastern Highlands grows about a third of the coffee in PNG. Most of the plantations are locally owned and the remote areas are accessed through 23 airstrips. The beans are different to the crop produced in the Western highlands, the other major producer. They have been described as: ‘sweet, cocoa/chocolate and spicy aromas, with tea-like body, good mouth-feel, clean, good body, a lemon taste, a delicate sweet fruitiness and a lingering after-taste.’

Although coffee is the province’s main cash crop, there is also production of sweet potato, potato, banana, broccoli, cabbages and spices for local and/or urban consumers in Lae and Port Moresby. Vanilla is sold to the international market. Pottery and wool rugs are produced at Kainantu.

The province is the location of a regional trucking centre and has the country’s largest hydropower station at Yonki, Kainantu.

There are two prospective gold prospects: Crater Mountain, a gold and copper deposit and Bilimoia, a gold deposit. The geology at Crater Mountain is dominated by a volcanic complex, and is considered to have all the hallmarks of a large mineralised system. The project is located approximately 50 kilometres southwest of Goroka. Bilimoia is located near Kainantu.


The province has the Goroka Show each September featuring groups, including the Mudmen, performing song and dance. There are craft markets and the Cultural Centre in Kainantu, where traditional pottery making is on display.

Story continues after advertisment...

The Asaro Valley in the Eastern Highlands is home to the famed Mudmen, one of Papua New Guinea’s most famous tourist attractions. Clad in ivory-white paint, and sporting elongated bamboo fingers and fearsome masks, the Mudmen captivate onlookers with eerie performances impersonating ghosts emerging from jungle mists.

Where to stay

  • Pacific Gardens Hotel in Goroka has standard self-contained rooms.
  • Bird of Paradise Hotel is close to the airport, has upmarket accommodation, a pool and a deck bistro.
  • The Lutheran Mission Guest House is in the heart of town (McNicoll Street)
  • The Kainantu Hotel (kainhotel@kkbltd.com) is another option.

Eastern Highlands Province in brief

Province Name: Eastern Highlands

Capital: Goroka

Population: 579,825 people

Area: 11,157 square kilometres

Distance from Port Moresby: 360 kilometres

Getting there: Air Niugini flies from Port Moresby to Goroka regularly. The flight time is 1 hour 10 minutes.

Sectors: Coffee, agriculture, gold and copper.

© Copyright 2020, Business Advantage International, Pty Ltd

Leave a Reply