Going ashore in Port Chalmers (Port Otago)

Going ashore in Port Chalmers

Port Chalmers is situated in the beautiful Otago Harbour – one of the biggest and most spectacular natural harbours in the world –  and it is surrounded on the East by the Otago Peninsula.

Going out of the port and into the town has never been easier as the small city of Port Chalmers is only a few minute walk away from the gate. Walking inside the port is permitted ( wearing of a high visibility vest is required) following the designated route and once you stepped outside the terminal you are already in town.

Port Chalmers is only a tiny settlement, but it is the best option for a few hour getaway far from the vessel.

You can enjoy a very nice stroll – one km long –  following Macandrew Road, on the right, to arrive in Carey’s Bay, where pleasure boats are sheltered. Here you will find one of the best restaurants in town, hosted by the town’s oldest hotel – Carey’s Bay Hotel (build in 1874).

Carey's Bay Port Chalmers

If you love walking you can follow another route – which is a little more difficult – and arrive on top of the hill from where you will have an astonishing view over the port and Otago Harbour. There are 2 observation points on top – one at Lady Thorn Dell and Look out and another at Captain Scott Memorial, more further up. To arrive on top of the hill, just walk to the big Cathedral  (Iona Church), continue on Church Street to the right and follow the walls of the cemetery. If you want to have a wonderful view over Carey’s Bay, continue up to the end of the cemetery.

IFIona Church

If walking is not your favourite leisure activity, but you have more than only 3-4 hours to spend, you can venture yourself and visit Dunedin, the closest city. Here you can find a wide display of shops, restaurants, bars and pubs, most of which are opened until late at night. Dunedin is considered to be New Zealand’s oldest city and it is situated only 14 km SW of Port Chalmers. To go there, you can take the local bus (the station is on the main street, in front of the Bakery) for only 5NZ$ or a taxi for which the fare is around 45NZ $.

Places of interest in Dunedin:

  • Octagon (the centre of social and cultural life)
  • The Railway Station
  • The Cadbury Chocolate Factory
  • Botanical Garden
  • Chinese Garden
  • Otago Museum
  • Climb the world’s steepest street (Baldwin Street)

If you are more interested in nature and you have a lot of free time to spend, you can explore the Otago Peninsula and enjoy its wildlife reserves and its stunning views.

Otago Peninsula stretches over 20 km – from the city of Dunedin to Taiaroa Head  – and it is home to the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross, the world rarest penguin (the yellow-eyed penguin), sea lions, fur seals and the little blue penguins. You can enjoy all this beautiful scenery only if you have a car available (you can hire one for ~ 150 NZ $) or if you sign up for one of the tours offered by local tour operators ( more information – Dunedin’s i-SITE Visitor Centre located on Princess Street).

To watch the little blue penguins, you have to arrive at Taiaroa Head Reserve at least one hour before sunset, pay the 25NZ $ fee to enter the protected area and spend ~ one hour on the Pilot’s Beach where these 35 centimeter tall creatures spend their nights, after wandering around the surrounding waters for the entire day.

Pilot's Beach Otago PeninsulaPilot’s Beach – view from the sea –

Pilot's Beach - Otago PeninsulaPilot’s Beach

The little blue Penguin (4)

The whole journey to the Taiaroa Head – from Port Chalmers – will take you ~ one hour drive and it will offer you an incredible view over the Otago Harbour, Pacific Ocean and through a Swiss like climbing. The road is in very good condition, but it is very narrow in some areas.



Tips and recommendations for Port Chalmers:

  • There is a big Supermarket – 300 meters away from the port, up on George Street ( you can pay your purchases using, local money, credit card or US $);
  • There is a Pharmacy and post office shop on George Street, very close to the port (on the right side);
  • 50 meters from the gate, on George Street (on the right), you will find the Seafarer’s Centre (open from 19 to 22; here you can use the free internet, make phone calls, borrow books);

Port Chalmers Seafarer's Centre

  • Free internet is offered in town in a phone booth close to the supermarket and in the local Public Library.

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