PNG Highlands tourists rarely attacked despite recent coverage

Cultural show at Mt Hagen, PNG. Violence in the highlands is usually inter-tribal. Image: Wikipedia

Pacific Media Watch Newdesk

Despite Papua New Guinea’s dangerous reputation, tourists to the country are regarded as “special guests” and are seldom targeted by criminals, reports

According to the story, tourists are more likely to come to harm in Thailand and the Philippines than in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, where the violence is usually inter-tribal and precipitated by natural disasters.

Nevertheless, crimes against tourists in PNG are well publicised, adding to the country’s nefarious reputation.

READ MORE: PNG police minister to use social media to keep citizens safe

One case was featured extensively in the New Zealand mainstream media this week, when a Kiwi photographer was attacked during a roadside robbery in the Highlands.

Colin Monteath, 71, and Australians Chris Hoy and Greg Mortimer had all their belongings stolen near the city of Mt Hagen while on their way to visit the popular destination Rondon Ridge Lodge, reports the Otago Daily Times.

Their car was stopped at a road block by six people armed with knives and axes.

Monteath sustained machete wounds to his wrist when he refused to hand over his camera gear.

He survived because the weapon directly struck his wristwatch, which shattered upon impact, reports

After the attack, a local woman helped find their car keys which had been thrown in the jungle.

They then drove to Mt Hagen Hospital where Monteath received surgery on his wrist and was discharged that same day, June 5.

However, the offenders were arrested quickly when the local community and officials helped track them down.

Most of the stolen equipment was also recovered and returned.

Monteath told that the locals were very helpful and apologetic and he still loved Papua New Guinea despite what happened.

Australian Greg Mortimer said the incident was unfortunate but there are bad people all over the world, reports the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier.

Trans Niugini Tours owner Bob Bates, who runs Rondon River Lodge where the victims had been heading, told the Post-Courier nothing like this attack had ever happened in the 13 years of their operation.

According to, the last tourist death in PNG was in 2013 when Australian Robert Purdy was killed during a home invasion in Mt Hagen.


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