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Port Chalmers

Looking out over Port Chalmers The main road in Port Chalmers An old building in Port Chalmers

The visitor to Port Chalmers is very quickly aware that this is a town with a distinctive quality. Where else do you find giant container cranes looming over the foot of the main street? There may even be one or two of the largest container ships in the New Zealand trade at the berths or, especially over the months from October to March, a multi-storied modern cruise liner.

The substantial Victorian two and three-storied buildings along the main street testify to a prosperous past, when, in the 1870s, Port Chalmers was one of the main ports in the southern hemisphere and the ‘gateway’ to New Zealand for thousands of immigrants. Notable on the hillside overlooking the port is the towering spire of Iona Church, one of three churches built of the local ‘bluestone’ in those heady times.

Fortunately the surrounding hills provide the visitor with vantage points to take in both the picturesque scenery of the harbour and something of the history of this seaport. From the southern entry the Blueskin Road takes one to the Scott Memorial, commemorating the Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott, for whom Port Chalmers was the last port in 1910. He had been here earlier in 1901 and was to be followed by other notable Antarctic explorers such as Ernest Shackleton and the American Richard Byrd.

Just below the ‘cairn’, as locals call the monument, is the harbour lookout built to commemorate the centenary of the first shipment of frozen meat, which left Port Chalmers in the sailing ship Dunedin on 15 February 1882.

By taking the road behind Iona Church one reaches the Lady Thorn Rhododendron Dell planted out in one of the former quarries from which the ‘bluestone’ for many buildings in the town, Dunedin and elsewhere was obtained.

On the other side of the bay the Flagstaff Lookout provides a closer, birds-eye view of the port operations, with stored logs and woodchips directly below and stacks of containers on the far side. A plane table locates features of the port, some of which are now historical. The flagstaff itself is the successor to the original mast from which the entry of ships into the harbour was signalled and a black time-ball was lowered at noon so that ships’ masters could set their chronometers.

Behind the flagstaff lies the Hotere Sculpture Garden, which serves to inform the visitor that in more recent years Port Chalmers has attracted numerous artists, the most notable of whom is former Northlander Ralph Hotere. Port Chalmers has always had an attraction for painters, for example Captain Thomas Robertson, a famous painter of ships from the 1860s and later William Matthew Hodgkins and his illustrious daughter Frances, who went to a private school here.

Cruise

Cruise

Looking for information about Cruising to Port Chalmers and Dunedin?

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Accommodation

Accommodation

Port Chalmers has plenty of accommodation situated around the township and along the coast, to along a wonderful experience in discovering the beautiful town of Port Chalmers.

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Activities

Activities

Port Chalmers has plenty of shops, galleries and a small sefaring museum. Salmon and trout fishing are very popular between October to April. The Port Chalmers Museum is a must see for visitors.

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Port Chalmers

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15°C

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Chance of Rain

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Thu

Mostly Sunny

12°C

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