Oro Province: Papua New Guinea Business Guide


Oro Province is located to the east of the Owen Stanley mountain range, the barrier that separates the western and eastern parts of New Guinea.

A Queen Alexandra’s birdwing butterfly on pink hibiscus. The birdwing is the largest butterfly in the world and lives in a small area near Popondetta. Credit: Jan Hasselberg


In Tufi, on the south-east coast of the province, there are fjords that are over 90 metres deep and rise vertically out of the water to over 150 metres. Mangroves form a canopy over narrow waterways. There are no roads over the Owen Stanley mountains, but a road runs from Popondetta to Kokoda and another to Afore. Coastal communities rely on dinghy and canoe transport, and the remote communities in this province must walk long distances over mountainous terrain to reach roads that service centres.

Economic overview

Oro Province’s largest industry is palm oil production. Palm oil is produced either by small-holders who sell their crop to the company or by companies. In Oro about 6000 hectares are owned by small-holders, while a further 6000 is company-owned plantations; small family growers account for 60 per cent of the land used to grow palm oil. In the Kokoda Valley, there is also production of cocoa and fresh food. There has been interest in possible nickel mining in the province, and potential cobalt deposits have also been identified. There is some small-scale alluvial mining, mainly based on dredging methods. Some formal employment is available in Popondetta, but most of the population remains in the informal economy.


The province was the site of some of the most devastating Pacific campaigns of World War 2. The northern end of the Kokoda Trail terminates at the village of Kokoda. Around the beaches of Buna and Gona, some of the most violent and bitter fighting of World War 2 took place. The famous Kokoda Trail runs through Oro Province (as well as Central Province), which has become a major tourist attraction for Australasians. The province has a rich and fascinating art and culture heritage and is known for its tapa cloth, made from the mulberry tree bark. Oro is also the birthplace of the world’s largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, which can be seen at Ondahari Village, about 40 minutes from Popondetta. There is diving, snorkelling, kayaking and fishing. War relics from the 1940s can be seen along the coast in Buna and Gona.

Places to stay

  • The Tufi Resort is the province’s top accommodation and has views over fjords, the sea and mountains covered in rainforest.
  • The Oro Guest House (+675-6297127) provides clean, comfortable and affordable accommodation in Popondetta.

Oro Province in brief

Province name: Oro

Capital: Popondetta

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Population: 176,206

Area: 34,650 square kilometres

Distance from Port Moresby: 139 kilometres.

Getting there: Air Niugini flies from Port Moresby to Popondetta regularly. The flight time is 35 minutes.

Sectors: Oil palm, tourism, coffee, cocoa, copra.

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