Rabaul and Kokopo – East New Britain

Last week we were fortunate to visit Kokopo courtesy of a work trip for me, and then I just had to buy tickets for Jacinta and the kids (about K5000.00 worth!)…

We stayed at the marvelous Gazelle International Hotel where they had no problem shifting us around due to a really noisy band on Friday night, and then back into one of their larger rooms (hint – for a family, ask for an end room!).  The team there were fantastic, and the food was divine, in fact – I would say it was the best european food that I have eaten in PNG…  We were lucky to have the use of the companies single cab ute for the weekend, and spent plenty time driving and/or walking around.

We did go over to Rabaul and watch Mt Tavurvur let off some steam, and got a guided tour through a Japanese underground hospital (from WW2) and underground barge tunnels.  Mostly though, we enjoyed the peace of East New Britain, and were happy to walk around the markets, and just kick back and take in the real PNG.

I took A LOT of photos, as I do – so I thought I would leave you with a whole bunch of them 🙂  This first lot from Matupit Island (now a part of the mainland and accessible across an ash road, and of Rabaul.  If you do go there, travel into Matupit, and ask for Ray, he will tell you the history of the island and take you down to the shore.  Give him some Kina for his trouble and don’t forget to buy some craft from the local ladies.

Got a tour by Ray a local of Matupit Island - this property destroyed in 1994

Got a tour by Ray a local of Matupit Island – this property destroyed in 1994

Tavurvur just sleeping

Tavurvur just sleeping

Tavurvur let off a little ash - amazing to be this close

Tavurvur let off a little ash – amazing to be this close

Met Ray in the village and he took us to this spot.  If you want a guided tour and history, he is your man.  Here he is with his sister.

Met Ray in the village and he took us to this spot. If you want a guided tour and history, he is your man. Here he is with his sister.

So pretty - yet only just starting to recover from the devastation

So pretty – yet only just starting to recover from the devastation

Some local lads from Matupit Island about to tend some graves.  Jacinta kessim planti piksa (Jacinta took lots of photos)

Some local lads from Matupit Island about to tend some graves. Jacinta kessim planti piksa (Jacinta took lots of photos)

This is Rays Haus, the government paid for the small amount of roofing iron that you see, Ray has to live under the Haus...

This is Rays Haus, the government paid for the small amount of roofing iron that you see, Ray has to live under the Haus…

Tavurvur going off as we head back to the mainland

Tavurvur going off as we head back to the mainland

We stopped to buy some crafts from the local Matupit people - got this awesome shot of some local kids climbing on the back of the ute

We stopped to buy some crafts from the local Matupit people – got this awesome shot of some local kids climbing on the back of the ute.

The road past Tavurvur to Matupit Island.  Lucky we got across when we did as Tavurvur covered this just 30 minutes later

The road past Tavurvur to Matupit Island. Lucky we got across when we did as Tavurvur covered this just 30 minutes later

No words can brace yourself for some of the images around Rabaul

No words can brace yourself for some of the images around Rabaul

The Rabaul Hotel has been almost destroyed twice - but they keep it going.  Amazing history being the oldest hotel in PNG.  The swimming pool had a extra layer on it though ;)

The Rabaul Hotel has been almost destroyed twice – but they keep it going. Amazing history being the oldest hotel in PNG. The swimming pool had a extra layer on it though 😉

And then Tavurvur went BOOM! and blew ash into the air.  This photo from the observatory, Matupit Island is off to the right of the volcano and covered in thick ash.  Glad we got out when we did as it was still going 2 days later...

And then Tavurvur went BOOM! and blew ash into the air. This photo from the observatory, Matupit Island is off to the right of the volcano and covered in thick ash. Glad we got out when we did as it was still going 2 days later…

Xavier dressed himself for the occasion - I didn't notice what his shirt said until reviewing photos today.  TOTALLY AWESOME - buddy - how right are you?

Xavier dressed himself for the occasion – I didn’t notice what his shirt said until reviewing photos today. TOTALLY AWESOME – buddy – how right are you?

We went back into Rabaul so that I could take this photo - all 5 of us were crammed into the front of the single cab ute

We went back into Rabaul so that I could take this photo – all 5 of us were crammed into the front of the single cab ute

Rabaul is amazing – the determination of the locals to live there is incredible, and I highly recommend going there.

part 2 to come

Aaron

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9 thoughts on “Rabaul and Kokopo – East New Britain

  1. I am planning to take my grandsons for a weeks visit to Rabaul in July 2014 and your comments and pics have helped tremendously in our decision.

  2. One of my favourite places in PNG!! It’s so beautiful and I’ve been lucky enough to go there twice. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with your comments about the Gazelle International Hotel – I stayed there for the first time when I visited in September and I thought it was terrible. The LOUD music that started at 10pm (even though it was raining!), slow service… ah, I could go on but I won’t 🙂

    • Hey Rebecca – sorry, I just haven’t been clearing my junk comments (your’s was in there). The Gazelle was perfect for me as it is close to work… Now we have a doublecab ute over there I will possibly stay next time at Rapopo 🙂

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