Welcome to the Port Chalmers cruise port guide. Port Chalmers is the gateway to the city of Dunedin. While your cruise ship is in port you have three main options on how to spend you day. 1. Stay in Port Chalmers, 2. Visit Dunedin or 3. Go further afield and visit the famous countryside of New Zealand.
Port Chalmers is where your cruise ship is going to dock. It is charming little place known for its heritage. Port Chalmers used to be an important trading town. Known in the early 19th century for its sealers and whalers and later a post in the Otago gold rush. The prosperity it brought to early New Zealand is still shown in its fine architecture that you will find in the town center. You can easily explore it by foot and it is only a short walk from the cruise dock to the center of town.
Read our Port Chalmers – Dunedin cruise port guide underneath to read all about your docking location and how to get out and about.
Port Chalmers – Dunedin cruise port guide: docked
Cruise ships are not able to sail all the way up to Dunedin. They will have to dock at the cruise dock at Port Chalmers.
Port Chalmers has great facilities to welcome cruise ships into their port. They have routing, shuttle busses and a visitors welcome center.
The port lies right in front of the center of Port Chalmers and there is also a local visitors center where you can find all kinds of information on taxi’s, local tours and bus service.
There is usually a shuttle bus offered from Port Chalmer’s cruise port to Dunedin. And if you ask, you might also catch a ride just to the center of Port Chalmers.
Dunedin and Port Chalmers are about 14 km apart from each other. Your shuttle bus will take scenic highway 88 and it will need approximately 20 minutes to get you into the centre of Dunedin.
The drop off location is usually at the Dunedin Public Library, which is about 1 block from the Octagon. This is a nice location to start and end your day in Dunedin because most of the sites are within 4 blocks from there.
Check with your cruise line if this shuttle will be offered during your call.
Your cruise ship will provide their own tours, but you are also able to book some local tours shore side. They usually offer some tours at the visitors center on the dock and they also offer tours at the Dunedin tourist information. To reach the tourist information you simply hop on the shuttle bus to Dunedin and walk to the tourist information center which is about a block away.
Taxis are usually waiting for you near the cruise dock. Please keep in mind they are pretty expensive and they could cost you about 150 dollar per hour, if not more.
If you want you can take the shuttle bus into Dunedin and rent a bicycle here. Make sure you plan ahead what your route is going to be, because Cycle World and iBike have one way hires available. If your ship is in port for the whole day we highly recommend you to look in to riding the Otago Central Rail Trail. This trail was chosen as The New Zealand Cycle Trail 2017. The total track is 151 km, but it is divides into several trails that you can do individually.
If you are not much into planning your bicycle route you can also simply rent a bicycle and stay in the area of Dunedin.
There is public transportation in Port Chalmers, but it is limited. Bus 14 goes every 30 minutes from Harrington St. in Port Chalmers to Clyde Street in Dunedin. This bus will leave about 1km’s walk from the city center. We highly recommend you to take the cruise ship shuttle service when it’s available. This is much more convenient and faster.
Things to see and do in Port Chalmers
Port Chalmers Maritime Museum
Careys Bay Historic Hotel
Things to see and do in Dunedin
Dunedin street art walk
Dunedin Chinese Gardens
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Dunedin Public Art Gallery
NZ Sports Hall of Fame
Find more suggestions on the Dunedin tourist information website.
Sailing in and out of Port Chalmers
When you cruise ship enters the Harbour’s bay you will have an amazing first sight on the beautiful coastline and landscape of the area. Have a seat in front of a window the last hours before you dock and the first hour after departure. It is beautiful the see all the little houses on the hills, the green and rocky coastline and there is actually also a lot of wildlife you will find along the way. Especially around Taiaroa head / Harington Point. This is the first small peninsula to the south as your cruise ship leaves open sea and enters the bay. This is where you are usually able to spot Albatros, because the Royal Albatross Centre is located here. You will often also see Blue penguins at Harington Point. These species are also known as the world’s smallest penguins.