Rabaul Mask Festival

Rabaul Mask Festival

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5 Days From



Rabaul Mask Festival

5 Days Starting and ending in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Visiting: Rabaul

Tour operator:

Crooked Compass

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:


Special diets catered:


Tour operated in:
Trip Styles:

Active, Special Events



$3171 Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$149

NB: Prices correct on 27-May-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Learn about old Rabaul town, buried under volcanic ash in 1994VIP viewing of dancers wearing traditional masks and spectacular costumes from all over Papua New Guinea.View steam vents and hot springs as you climb of the active Mt Tavurvur volcanoDiscover WWII history as you experience a network of tunnels leading to the Japanese military command bunkerMarvel at a spectacular Bainings Fire Dance where men immerse themselves into flames and escape completely unharmedThe Mask Festival is the only festival of its kind in Papua New Guinea. Together with their amazing costumes, groups from all across the islands gather in the coastal town of Kokopo to showcase their elaborate ancestral and spirit masks whilst performing ritual dances, each style forging the unique cultural identity of a tribe.

Witness the 'Kinavai' opening ceremony at dawn, as the arrival of ancestral spirits are welcomed to chants and the beating of kundu drums by elders and initiated young men on canoes.

Experience the spectacular Baining Fire Dance from the Tolai’s of the mainland of East New Britain Province, where in this night-time traditional dance, initiated young men perform harrowing dances through blazing fires amidst evocative chanting by their elders.  Join us as we experience one of the most fascinating festivals Papua New Guinea has to offer.


  • Learn about old Rabaul town, buried under volcanic ash in 1994

  • VIP viewing of dancers wearing traditional masks and spectacular costumes from all over Papua New Guinea.

  • View steam vents and hot springs as you climb of the active Mt Tavurvur volcano

  • Discover WWII history as you experience a network of tunnels leading to the Japanese military command bunker

  • Marvel at a spectacular Bainings Fire Dance where men immerse themselves into flames and escape completely unharmed


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Day 1 : Arrival Rabaul

Location: Rabaul

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Rapopo Beach Resort or similar

Meals Included: Dinner

Welcome to Papua New Guinea. Upon arrival at East New Britain’s Tokua Airport, you will be met by your English speaking Australian Tour Leader and local guides who will accompany you to your resort accommodation in Kokopo township.

Following the burial in volcanic ash of much of old Rabaul town in 1994, East New Britain’s commercial hub has been re-established in a modernised Kokopo over recent decades. Settle into your beachside resort facilities enjoying a swim before your evening meal.

Day 2 : Rabaul And Opening Ceremony

Location: Rabaul

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Rapopo Beach Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Gather at dawn on the Kokopo foreshore for the Kinavai, which signifies the landing of the Tolai people in East New Britain several hundred years ago and marks the official opening of the Mask Festival. The Kinavai represented with the arrival of the Tumbuan in their traditional masks, alighting from canoes paddled in the pre-dawn darkness from the neighbouring Matupit island. Dancing to the primal sounds of chanting and kundu drums, the revered ancestral spirits arise to welcome dancers wearing traditional masks from all over Papua New Guinea.

During the day you can take a quiet break from the festival and visit the Kokopo Museum which is conveniently located next to the Festival grounds. The Museum houses an impressive range of war relics along with an informative display of colonial, military and natural history.

Lunch can be enjoyed in airconditioned comfort in either the Gazelle International Hotel restaurant or the Ralum Country Club, both located next to the festival grounds. Overlooking the historic Queen Emma Steps, the backdrop is breath taking with ocean views over Blanche Bay. The bay is named after HMS Blanche, which surveyed the bay under the command of Captain Cortland Simpson in 1872.

Returning to the festival grounds after lunch, you will continue to enjoy a VIP viewing of the days performances. Return to your accommodation for a refreshing swim and dinner.

Day 3 : Volcano Climb & Mask Festival

Location: Rabaul

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Rapopo Beach Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following an early breakfast, be driven from your resort to Rabaul and enjoy a morning climb of the active volcano, Mt Tavurvur. The volcano is not too arduous to climb and well worth the effort. Mt. Tavurvur is the most active of the six volcanos that surround the Rabaul caldera. View steam vents and hot springs at base of volcano along with the megapode egg hunters who burrow metres into

the black sand emerging with prized eggs.

Return to the hotel in Kokopo to refresh and then travel a short distance to the festival grounds for the second day of the Mask Festival.

Among many highlights, the standouts include the Kusare warriors from Kandrian on the South coast of New Britain’s western province and the immediately recognisable Asaro mud men from the mainland’s Eastern Highlands. From closer to home, the tall Tubuans from the Pomio district, the Tolai whip dancers along with neighbouring New Ireland’s renowned Malagan mask men all add to the colour and movement.

Return to your accommodation for a refreshing swim and dinner.

Day 4 : Sightseeing & Bainings Fire Dance

Location: Rabaul

Accommodation: Resort

Accommodation Name: Rapopo Beach Resort or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Following an early breakfast, enjoy the panoramic views as you are driven around Blanche Bay and up to the Malmaluan lookout for a spectacular view of the town of Rabaul. View the Simpson Harbour which is part of a huge flooded caldera, the Rabaul Caldera. Visit the Vulcanological Observatory where instruments monitor volcanic activity across Papua New Guinea.

Visit Matupit Island whose people and settlement survived the worst of the 1994 volcanic eruption despite their location immediately beneath it.

Reminisce at the famous New Guinea Club, the centre of Rabaul’s social scene, back when it was revered as “the Pearl of the South Pacific”. It now houses the extremely informative displays of the Rabaul Historical Society.

Enter a network of tunnels leading to the Japanese military command bunker of Admiral Yamamoto that includes etched ceiling maps before you meander through Karavia Bay’s Japanese Hospital tunnels. You will then visit the tranquil memorial gardens of the Chinese cemetery where your guide will explain aspects of the historically long association the Chinese have had with Rabaul. You climb around the large barges of the Japanese Imperial forces that are still housed in even larger tunnels hewn into the soft volcanic cliff faces on the shores of Blanche Bay. The barges were hauled to the water to unload shipping cargo, along rails by Indian slaves, now buried at Bita Paka Cemetery.

You will then return to your accommodation in Kokopo for lunch and to refresh.

Following lunch you have the choice of 3 afternoon activities :

1. Simply relax and enjoy the resorts facilities and on-site activities.

2. Enjoy a scenic tour of the Gazelle Peninsula. You will observe cocoa, copra and palm oil cultivation undertaken in the rich volcanic soil, noting the area’s significant contribution to the national economy. Kokopo, known then as Herbertshohe, was from 1884 to 1910 the capital of the German New Guinea colonial empire. You will visit the historic German cemetery and the cathedral at Vunapope Catholic mission. View the beachside landing site at Kabakaul from where Australian military forces advanced in 1914 to capture the German

wireless station at Bita Paka. This battle was Australia’s first major military engagement of the First World War. Bita Paka War Cemetery is now the resting place of over one thousand Australian and Allied soldiers who met their fate during World War 2, when “Fortress Rabaul” became the South Pacific headquarters and staging post for the Japanese Imperial Forces.

Your tour will include a visit to the Kokopo Market, one of the biggest in Papua New Guinea.

3. At your own expense :

Half Day scuba diving and fishing activities are available and a great way to explore the seas of East New Britain that are rich in marine life, wreck diving and abundant fish for viewing or catching. Your guides can organise these activities.

Enjoy dinner at the resort.

After dinner, you will be transferred to Kainagunan or Gaulim Village (approx. 90mins) in the Bainings area. This evenings spectacular Bainings Fire Dance is performed only by men from the Bainings clans, where they immerse themselves into the flames of the fire and escape completely unharmed. This amazing ritual is not performed anywhere else in the world. One of few cultures in Papua New Guinea who do not use the Kundu drum as their rhythmic percussion instruments, the Bainings clan instead use bamboo, and the sound is just as unique as the fire dance itself. After the performance, return back to your hotel.

Day 5 : Departure

Location: Rabaul

Accommodation: Resort, ResortResort

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Farewell your group and tour leader after breakfast today. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Port Moresby (flight not included). Upon arrival, transit to international departures to meet your onward flight.

What's Included

  • Meet and greet service on arrival Port Moresby and Rabaul

  • 4 nights accommodation

  • 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners

  • English speaking local guide

  • All activities as per itinerary

  • Entrance fees, sightseeing and permits

  • Private transportation

What's Not Included

  • International and domestic flights

  • Visas

  • Travel and medical insurance

  • All services, meals other than those indicated above

  • Personal porters

  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.

  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

Check out our Q&As

  • What is the minimum group size?

    The min group size is 2 people.

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.

  • Is there a supplement for solo travellers?

    Yes, Single Supplement will be chargeable at AUD$ 1,405.00

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, The local guides on the tour is English speaking

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Entrance fees, sightseeing and permits are included.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    International and domestic flights are not included.

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in itinerary.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes. Focusing on providing authentic experiences where ever you are in the world, Crooked Compass has access to a vast array of accommodation styles. From boutique properties in larger cities to local guest houses and home stays within small villages. Crooked Compass ensures that local authenticity flows through your accommodation throughout your tour without compromising standard.

  • What sort of transportation is used for your tours?

    Transportation utilised on a Crooked Compass escorted small group tour is a combination of a private air conditioned vehicle and local transport where appropriate. This may include a local bus ride, use of the cities metro system, a domestic flight to another city or overnight train ride.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Crooked Compass strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism. Crooked Compass is firmly committed to the principles of ethical travel. Our comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Practices policy summarises our commitments and actions. Although the very basis of our ground operations lends itself to the ethos of sustainable tourism, this policy re-iterates our commitment to: Use locally owned hotels Use locally owned ground agents Use local guides and drivers Promote community tourism projects from homestays to craft shops Support charities that work within the destinations that we travel to Carbon offset our travels

  • Who runs your tours and are they experts in their fields?

    Crooked Compass works with the worlds best operators who are specialists in their country, region and cities providing you with in depth local knowledge. We use local guides who live and breathe the areas they work in, making sure you experience their region, their way. We believe it is far better to have a local guide who knows a lot about a little than a text book trained Western tour guide who knows a little about a lot. Using local guides also ensures that money stays within local communities and supports the regions we visit.

  • What can I expect from a Crooked Compass tour that I wouldn't get from travelling with an alternative company?

    Crooked Compass provides a sensory way to understand the world – we help you live like a local, eat like a local, do what the locals do and seek the faces behind the places whilst discovering untouched lands and natural beauty. Crooked Compass tours delve deep into the heart and soul of a destination ensuring you get out of your journey all you intended and much, much more. Our intriguing itineraries have been created by travellers for travellers. Steering travellers to follow a different path, Crooked Compass’ itineraries allow you to experience the world’s most fascinating destinations in ways you never dreamed possible. It brings to life those ‘bucket list’ experiences you have yearned to do and separates the travellers from the tourists. Crooked Compass tours are culturally rich, reward travellers with unexpected encounters and uncommon rendezvous, creating truly unique, authentic travel experiences.

  • Who do your tours cater for?

    Crooked Compass escorted small group tours cater for those who are well travelled seeking the what’s next and what’s new. Our travellers are curious minded soft adventurers who want to uncover something more than the mainstream tourist trail. Crooked Compass tours draw travellers with an interest in sustainable tourism and conservation for the areas they visit. A Crooked Compass traveller is someone who is seeking something fresh and unique, who has a yearning for authenticity and discovery, with an appreciation for cultures, tradition and the natural world. We call them Cultural Purists.

  • I am concerned about my impact on travelling through untouched regions. Can I offset?

    Yes. All travellers on Crooked Compass tours have the option to offset their part of their tour’s carbon footprint by donating $4AUD (tax-deductible) at time of booking. 100% of these funds are donated to Greenfleet, an environmental non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting our climate by restoring our forests. By partnering with Greenfleet, we are confident that our carbon offset program provides genuine and lasting environmental benefits. Your offset donation funds plant trees and restore permanent native forests in Australia and New Zealand. As they grow, these forests provide many community and environmental benefits by absorbing carbon emissions, protecting our unique biodiversity, restoring habitat for native wildlife, preventing soil salinity and erosion, improving water quality and much more. If you’d like to find out more and offset the rest of your carbon emissions, visit www.greenfleet.org.au

Reviews of this operator

Jeff Rehn  

A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass


A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass. Considering the country is just opening up to tourism everything went very well - flights, trips, transfers, guides and accommodation - thank you CC - highly recommended

Pauline Mavis Rusby  

We were kept safe at all times.


We were kept safe at all times. When unexpected hurdles appeared they were handled without fuss. Our tour was informative, picturesque and comfortable.

Tina Watts-Seale  

Family holiday to Vietnam


We booked a family holiday to Vietnam with Crooked Compass and it was perfect. The booking process was easy and Lisa took all of our requests on board so that the trip was exactly what we wanted. All flights, transfers, accommodations, guides and activities were fantastic, with great communication throughout the whole trip. Would highly recommend, we will be booking again soon!


1 Dates & Availability

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Tuesday - Saturday

Jul 09, 2024 - Jul 13, 2024
$3320 $3171

Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$149

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Wednesday - Sunday

Jul 09, 2025 - Jul 13, 2025
$3486 $3329

Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$157

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Crooked Compass requires a minimum deposit of 20% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of crooked compass charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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