Port Chalmers Travel Guide
Port Chalmers is the main port in Dunedin and is the place you’ll arrive at if visiting on a cruise. It’s worth visiting even if you’re not boarding a boat there – there is heaps to see including some great viewpoints, plenty of old buildings and some nice shops and cafes. It’s also close to some of Dunedin’s top tourist spots, including Mount Cargill and Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
Downtown Port Chalmers
The main street in Port Chalmers is lined with cafes, boutique shops and galleries (along with the slightly more unglamorous dairies and “local” pubs). It’s a nice place to wander and is photogenic due to the large number of old buildings.
Viewpoints Above Town
If you’ve got a car it’s best to drive to these viewpoints, although you could see them on foot if you had to. First up is Centenary Lookout, just above town on Blueskin Road. You’ll drive past this place when going to Orokonui and beyond. From there you’ll get a good view over the port and harbour, and you might even see some wild chickens.
Next up is the Flagstaff Lookout, which also looks out over the port / town. You’ll get a few nice views at Flagstaff Lookout and from the road leading to it.
Finally, one of my favourite views in Port Chalmers is from Island Terrace. There are some seats set up along the side of the road and the views, over Quarantine Island / Goat Island and the harbour are great. There isn’t a car park up there so you’ll need to leave your car on the street (we parked at the bottom of Island Terrace and walked up).
Peninsula Beach Road
Below that viewpoint I just mentioned is a gravel road with some boat sheds. This seems to be favourite place for locals to go for a stroll with their dogs. Back towards the port you’ll find signs for a boat heading to Quarantine Island and across the harbour to Portobello – we haven’t done that trip yet but it looks fun.
The Hills Above Port Chalmers
Above Port Chalmers you’ll find plenty of beautiful views. The best place to see them is from Mount Cargill – you can drive right to the top but it’s a bit hard to reach if you’re coming from Port Chalmers. If that’s the case, your best bet is to park on Mount Cargill Road (there’s a small car park) and walk up to the top via the Organ Pipes, obviously you can just drive if you want to avoid exercise though! Or you could walk all the way from Port Chalmers via Grahams Bush.
Orokonui Ecosanctuary is the other iconic Dunedin tourist attraction close to Port Chalmers. It’s home to heaps of native New Zealand birds and is a predator free environment.
Other places to visit nearby include Careys Bay (home to a nice pub / café / restaurant), Heyward Point and Aramoana Beach. This is also the start of the scenic route to Oamaru – so many great beaches and coastal views on that drive!
Getting to Port Chalmers
It’s best to drive, but if you’re relying on public transport you can catch a bus to Port Chalmers (bus 14) and walk to most places. If you’re arriving in Port Chalmers on a cruise ship you can organise a tour (get in touch with me if you’re looking for a private driver) or bus into town and explore the city centre of Dunedin. There are so many options – Dunedin is New Zealand’s nicest city after all!
Are you planning on holidaying in New Zealand? Don’t miss our South Island Travel Guide!