Mendi, Papua New Guinea

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Mendi, Papua New Guinea

Region: Southern Highlands


Geographic Coordinates: -6.147800, 143.657000
Temperature Range: 10.0°C to 30.0°C (50°F to 86°F)
Climate: Data not available.
Population: 56055
Language: English

Mendi, The capital city of the Southern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea, Is a vibrant and culturally rich destination that offers visitors a unique experience. Nestled amidst lush green valleys and surrounded by towering mountains, Mendi is known for its stunning natural beauty and traditional way of life. One of the highlights of Mendi is its colorful festivals and cultural events. The city comes alive during these celebrations, Showcasing the diverse traditions and customs of the local tribes. The most famous event is the Mendi Show, Held annually in August.

This three-day extravaganza attracts people from all over Papua New Guinea who come to witness traditional dances, Music performances, Tribal rituals, Arts and crafts exhibitions, As well as agricultural displays. For nature enthusiasts, Mendi offers an abundance of outdoor activities. The surrounding mountains provide excellent opportunities for hiking and trekking adventures. Mount Giluwe stands tall nearby as Papua New Guinea’s second highest peak at 4, 367 meters (14, 327 feet), Attracting climbers seeking a challenging ascent with breathtaking views from its summit. The region surrounding Mendi is also home to numerous picturesque waterfalls that are worth exploring.

One such waterfall is Kupundasanda Falls which cascades down into a natural pool where visitors can take refreshing dips or simply enjoy the serene surroundings. In addition to its natural beauty and cultural heritage sites like ancient rock art caves found in nearby villages like Lai Valley or Pimaga Valley give insights into centuries-old traditions still practiced by local communities today. Mendi town itself offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in everyday life in Papua New Guinea.

Visitors can explore bustling markets where locals sell fresh produce including tropical fruits like papayas or bananas alongside handicrafts made from local materials such as woven baskets or carved wooden sculptures. Accommodation options range from guesthouses to budget-friendly hotels catering to different needs and budgets while offering warm hospitality typical of Papua New Guinean culture. Local cuisine is another highlight, With traditional dishes like mumu (a feast cooked in an earth oven) and fresh seafood being popular choices. Mendi, Papua New Guinea’s hidden gem, Offers a unique blend of natural beauty, Cultural heritage, And warm hospitality.

Whether it’s exploring the stunning landscapes or immersing oneself in the vibrant local traditions and festivals, Mendi promises an unforgettable experience for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure.



Important Landmarks

  1. Lake Kutubu: Located about 50 kilometers from Mendi, Lake Kutubu is a stunning freshwater lake surrounded by lush rainforests. It offers opportunities for fishing, bird watching, and boat tours.
  2. Mount Giluwe: As the second highest mountain in Papua New Guinea and Oceania’s highest volcano, Mount Giluwe attracts adventurous hikers and climbers. Its challenging trails provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  3. Singing Stones: These unique geological formations are located near Mendi town and are famous for producing musical sounds when struck with another stone or hard object.
  4. Cultural Festivals: Mendi hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year where visitors can witness traditional dances, music performances, art exhibitions, and experience local customs.
  5. Huli Wigmen Village: While not directly in Mendi but nearby Tari Valley (around 60 kilometers away), this village offers an opportunity to interact with the Huli people who are known for their vibrant traditions including elaborate wigs made from human hair.
  6. Southern Highlands Provincial Museum: Located in Mendi town itself, this small museum displays artifacts showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage including traditional costumes, tools used by indigenous tribespeople, artwork etc.

It’s worth noting that while these attractions may not be as famous as those found in other parts of Papua New Guinea or around the world; they still offer visitors a chance to explore unique aspects of Southern Highlands Province’s natural wonders and indigenous cultures.


Primary Industries

  1. Coffee: Mendi is known for its high-quality Arabica coffee production. Many small-scale farmers grow coffee beans, which are then processed and exported.
  2. Agriculture: Apart from coffee, other agricultural products like sweet potatoes, vegetables, fruits (such as bananas and pineapples), and livestock farming play a significant role in the local economy.
  3. Mining: The Southern Highlands Province has mineral-rich areas with deposits of gold, copper, silver, and oil. While mining activities are not directly centered in Mendi town itself but rather in surrounding areas like Porgera or Ok Tedi mine sites.
  4. Retail trade: As a regional center for commerce and administration within the province, Mendi has numerous retail shops ranging from small local stores to larger supermarkets providing various goods to residents.
  5. Transportation services: Given its status as a central hub within the province’s road network system connecting different districts; transportation services such as buses or taxis thrive here.
  6. Government services: Being a provincial capital means that there is a concentration of government offices responsible for delivering public services such as health care facilities or administrative functions.
  7. Education sector: There are several schools including primary schools up to tertiary institutions like colleges or vocational training centers contributing to educational development within Mendi town.
  8. Tourism industry potential: Although not yet fully developed compared to other regions of Papua New Guinea; due to its beautiful landscapes including mountainscapes or traditional cultural events held annually – tourism could be an emerging industry worth exploring further.

It’s important to note that while these industries exist in Mendi town itself or nearby areas within Southern Highlands Province; they may vary in terms of scale, prominence, or economic impact.


Noteable History

Mendi Historical Events

Historical Events in Mendi

  1. The Mendi Murders (1997)

    In 1997, a group of armed men attacked a plane carrying politicians and government officials at Mendi Airport. The attack resulted in the deaths of nine people, including two government ministers.

  2. Southern Highlands Provincial Government Crisis (2006)

    In 2006, political tensions escalated in Mendi when supporters of rival politicians clashed violently over disputed election results. This led to several deaths and widespread destruction.

  3. Sir Michael Thomas Somare

    Sir Michael Somare was a prominent Papua New Guinean politician who served as the country’s first Prime Minister after independence in 1975. He was born near Mendi in Wewak but had significant influence on politics throughout Papua New Guinea.

  4. Paias Wingti

    Paias Wingti is another notable Papua New Guinean politician who served as Prime Minister from 1985 to 1988 and again from 1992 to 1994. He hails from Southern Highlands Province, which includes Mendi.

  5. Komo Air Crash (2012)

    In August 2012, an aircraft operated by Airlines PNG crashed near Komo village close to Mendi while en route from Lae to Tari, killing all twenty-eight people on board.

  6. Enga-Southern Highlands Border Conflict

    The border between Enga Province and Southern Highlands Province has experienced ongoing tribal conflicts for many years due to disputes over land ownership and resources such as gold mines.

It’s important to note that while these events have shaped the history of Mendi, there are numerous other significant historical events and individuals associated with this region that may not be mentioned here but are equally important within their local context.


Museums and Things To See

  1. Mendi Cultural Centre: This center showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Southern Highlands Province. It offers displays of traditional artifacts, artwork, and performances that provide insights into local customs and traditions.
  2. Mt. Wilhelm: Although not specifically a museum or art center, Mt. Wilhelm is a must-visit landmark near Mendi. As Papua New Guinea’s highest peak, it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and is popular among hikers and nature enthusiasts.
  3. Tari Basin: Located near Mendi, Tari Basin is known for its unique Huli Wigmen culture. The area provides opportunities to witness traditional ceremonies, dances, and rituals performed by the locals.
  4. Lake Kutubu: About 70 kilometers from Mendi lies Lake Kutubu—a picturesque lake surrounded by lush rainforests and inhabited by various bird species such as hornbills and parrots.
  5. Kandep Rock Art Site: This site features ancient rock paintings believed to be thousands of years old created by indigenous people in the area.

While these attractions may offer cultural experiences or natural beauty rather than conventional museums or art centers found in larger cities like Port Moresby or Goroka, they still provide visitors with an opportunity to explore the unique cultural heritage of this region in Papua New Guinea.



Sports Teams

  1. Mendi Muruks Rugby League Team: The Mendi Muruks is a popular rugby league team that competes in the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League Competition. The team was founded in 1990 and has since become one of the most successful clubs in Papua New Guinea’s rugby league history. They have won multiple premierships and have produced several national representatives.
  2. Mendi Soccer Association: The Mendi Soccer Association governs football (soccer) activities in the region. While there may not be specific professional soccer teams from Mendi, numerous local clubs participate in various leagues organized by this association.
  3. Southern Highlander’s Netball Team: Netball is a popular sport for women in Papua New Guinea, and Mendi has its own representative team called the Southern Highlander’s Netball Team. This team represents the region at national netball tournaments and competitions.
  4. Southern Highlanders Cricket Club: Cricket is also played with enthusiasm in Mendi, and one of its prominent cricket clubs is the Southern Highlanders Cricket Club. This club participates in local cricket leagues and tournaments within Papua New Guinea.
  5. Hagen Eagles Basketball Team: Although not located directly within Mendi but nearby Mount Hagen city, which falls under Western Highlands Province, it is worth mentioning that basketball is gaining popularity across Papua New Guinea as well as within this region too. The Hagen Eagles basketball team hails from Mount Hagen but often competes against teams from neighboring cities like Mendi.

These are just a few examples of sports teams associated with or near to Mendi, showcasing their love for various sports like rugby league, soccer (football), netball, cricket, and basketball within their community or neighboring regions.



Cultural Events

  1. Mount Hagen Cultural Show: Although not in Mendi itself, the Mount Hagen Cultural Show is a major event that takes place nearby. It attracts tribes from all over Papua New Guinea who showcase their traditional dances, music, costumes, and rituals.
  2. Southern Highlands Provincial Day: This event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Southern Highlands Province of which Mendi is the capital. It typically includes cultural performances, traditional arts and crafts exhibitions, sports competitions, and local food stalls.
  3. Enga Cultural Show: Another neighboring province to Mendi is Enga Province which holds its own cultural show annually. The festival features traditional dances, rituals, singing competitions, storytelling sessions by tribal elders along with displays of indigenous art and crafts.
  4. Sing-sing Marap Festival: This festival celebrates the unique culture of the Marap-speaking people in Mendi town. It involves colorful traditional dance performances accompanied by chants and drumming.
  5. Independence Day Celebrations: Like all of Papua New Guinea on September 16th every year; independence day celebrations take place in Mendi as well to mark the country’s independence from Australia in 1975. These celebrations often include parades showcasing different cultures through dance performances and music.
  6. Agricultural Shows: As an agricultural region known for its coffee production among other crops like sweet potatoes and vegetables; there are various agricultural shows held throughout the year where farmers display their produce alongside livestock exhibitions.

It’s worth noting that specific dates for these events may vary each year so it’s recommended to check with local authorities or tourism offices for updated schedules if planning to attend any particular event in Mendi or its surrounding regions.


Cuisine

  1. Mumu: A traditional method of cooking where food is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground pit. This is a must-try when visiting Mendi.
  2. Laplap: Another traditional dish made with grated yam or taro, coconut milk, and various meats or vegetables.
  3. Roast pork: Pork cooked on an open fire until it is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It is often served with sweet potato or cassava.
  4. Kaukau (sweet potato): A staple food in Papua New Guinea that can be prepared in various ways such as boiled, roasted, or mashed.
  5. Kundiawa Market: The local market in Mendi where you can find fresh produce, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients to cook your own traditional meals.
  6. Highlander Hotel Restaurant: A popular restaurant offering a mix of Western and local cuisines including fresh seafood dishes like fish curry or lobster tail.
  7. Wabag Lodge Restaurant: Located nearby in Wabag town, this restaurant serves a variety of dishes including local specialties like mumu chicken or laplap with smoked beef.
  8. Mount Hagen Resort Restaurant: Although not exactly located in Mendi but nearby Mount Hagen town, this resort offers a range of international dishes as well as some local favorites like roast pork with kaukau fries.

These are just a few examples of the popular local cuisine and restaurants available in Mendi and its surrounding areas.


Parks and Recreation

Activities in Mendi, Papua New Guinea

  • 1. Mendi Botanical Gardens: This park offers a serene environment with beautiful gardens, walking trails, and picnic areas.
  • 2. Lake Kutubu: Located near Mendi, Lake Kutubu is a popular spot for fishing and boating activities. Visitors can also enjoy the scenic beauty of the lake surrounded by lush mountains.
  • 3. Kewabi Cultural Centre: This cultural center provides an opportunity to learn about the local culture of the Southern Highlands Province through traditional dance performances, storytelling, and handicraft displays.
  • 4. Singirok Golf Club: Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at this club located in Mendi town.
  • 5. Hiking and Trekking: The surrounding mountains offer numerous opportunities for hiking and trekking adventures, allowing visitors to explore the natural beauty of the region.
  • 6. Local Markets: Exploring local markets in Mendi can be an interesting experience where visitors can find traditional arts and crafts as well as fresh produce from the region.
  • 7. Rugby Matches: Rugby is a popular sport in Papua New Guinea, including Mendi. Watching or participating in rugby matches is a common recreational activity for both locals and visitors alike.

It’s important to note that availability or accessibility of these activities may vary depending on current conditions or events occurring in Mendi at any given time.


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