A short drive from Dunedin, historic Port Chalmers offers an interesting mix of heritage attractions, cafés and galleries.
Something of an artists' colony today, the township is a popular weekend excursion for Dunedin locals. The harbourside setting, intriguing galleries and relaxing eateries are all within easy walking distance of each other.
For six months of the year, from October to mid-April, Port Chalmers is a busy cruise port, with ships arriving early in the morning and departing early evening.
Several early Antarctic expeditions left from Port Chalmers, and up on the hill above the township is a memorial to Captain Scott, whose 1901 and 1910 expeditions departed from here. This is also a great vantage point to see the harbour and the workings of the port on a busy day.
Port Chalmers' Regional Maritime Museum is housed in the original 1877 stone post office building. It has a maritime collection and a settlers' collection, telling the stories of early pioneers and many port characters who have lived here over the years.
Try Union Café for freshly roasted coffee and hot chocolates with locally produced milk. The local area is also popular for salmon and trout fishing from October to April and is one of only two places in the world to fish for Salmon directly off a city wharf.
Just five minutes further on, Carey’s Bay is another picturesque harbourside village which boasts a the historic Careys Bay Hotel and restaurant, a great spot for casual seafood dining. If you’re in the mood for a scenic drive, keep going along the harbourside road to the small village of Aramoana which sits at the harbour entrance. Filled with typical kiwi ‘cribs’ as small holiday homes are known in the South Island, the beach here is a great spot for spotting wildlife or simply enjoying the gorgeous coastal views on a clear day.
The Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary is just a short yet spectacular drive up Blueskin Rd. where the expanse of the northern coastline and Otago Harbour pan out below. Here you’ll find precious native species such as South Island kākā, Kiwi, Tui, Bellbirds, Takahē, Tuatara and Morepork living amongst native bush and an excellent visitor centre and café.
Functional facts: Approx. population 1400, visitor centre, limited accommodation, small collection of shops.