A few kilometres away from Dunedin is Otago’s main port, Port Chalmers. This suburb has a population of 3000 and is ten kilometres inside of Otago. The port is extensively visited by cruise ships every year and is one of the major ports in South Island, New Zealand. A short delight, this port is the place for those who want a weekend getaway from the busy life in Dunedin.
This harbourside suburb offers a range of heritage sites, cafes and galleries within walking distance. This port is busy for 6 months, October-April when ships arrive early in the morning and depart early evening. Many famous musicians and artists have been locals to Port Chalmers and this place is famous for its culture art from potters and painters to sculptors, fashion designers and jewellers. So, if you’re in for a short trip to explore some maritime heritage, eat good food and relax at a harbourside town, then Port Chalmers should definitely be on your list.
Port Chalmers dates back to the 1800s, to the time of Maori and Koputai civilisations. This port was used by Ngai Tahu who sold the Otago Block to the New Zealand Company in 1844. In 1875, the European settlement of Otago was formed and by 1882, the first meat was shipped from this port to the Northern Hemisphere. However, the history of this place hasn’t been all that merry.
In 1881, when the Otago Harbour was opened and the “port” and the “city” argued over the rights of being called the main port. It was Port Chalmers that won and became the main deep-water container port in South Island. It was initially called “Koputai” but was renamed after the Free Church of Scotland leader, Thomas Chalmers who died in 1847, right before Otago was settled.