Lying a mere 4° south of the Equator2
, New Guinea is probably the only tropical island in the world to have a feature usually found at much higher latitudes - a glacier. Rising at more than 5,030 m, Puncak Jaya dominates the island, and is the highest point in the southwest Pacific.
Climate of extremes
In New Guinea you can be battered by violent rains, incapacitated by the intense heat and humidity, or get stranded in a snowstorm. Probably nowhere else in the world offers such a range of climates in just one place.
The island is subject to a northwest monsoon from December to March (rainy season) and a southeast monsoon from May to October (dry season). Average temperatures hover between 23-32 ºC but quickly fall at high altitudes. In the highlands, temperatures drops to 11 ºC and do not exceed 25 ºC.
Like any other tropical environment, New Guinea experiences varying amounts of rainfall. The island receives an average 2,500-3,000 mm of rain per year.
But this figure is meaningless when we look at specific parts of the island. For example, while some districts may receive around 9,000 mm per year, Port Moresby is a relative desert (less than 1,000 mm/year).