Dunedin Cruise Port (Port Chalmers)
Known as the architectural heritage capital of New Zealand, Dunedin was once the largest and wealthiest city in the country. Sitting on the Otago Peninsula on New Zealand’s South Island, this lively university town with Scottish roots is increasingly popular among tourists.
How to Get to Dunedin
Cruise ships dock at Port Chalmers, a suburb of Dunedin located about 8 miles from the city. Shuttle buses are available to take you into the center of town, typically dropping you off at the Octagon in the heart of Dunedin. Public buses also run between Port Chalmers and Dunedin, picking passengers up from the corner of Harrington, Fox and Meridian Streets. Taxis are also available to make the 15 minute drive to Dunedin.
One Day in Dunedin
Whether you take a shuttle or a public bus, you will likely arrive in Dunedin at the Octagon – an eight-sided plaza in the center of town full of bars and cafes. Start with a visit to the Otago Museum to learn more about the region’s cultural and natural history. If you’re interested in contemporary art, stop at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on the southwestern corner of the Octagon as well. Spend some time checking out the charming Victorian and Edwardian architecture of the city, including Otago University and the Railway Station. Then, head over to bustling George Street, just off of the Octagon, to peruse some of Dunedin’s best shops before taking a break for lunch at one of the many restaurants lining the street.
After lunch, it’s time for dessert! Make your way to Cadbury World on Cumberland Street, where you can sample Cadbury chocolate or even take a guided tour of the factory. Beer-lovers may want to follow that up with a tour of Speight’s Brewery, home of the South Island’s most popular beer. Or, pay a visit to the Royal Albatross Center at Taiaroa Head, home to the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross.
Time permitting, you might also head out to New Zealand’s only castle, Larnach Castle. Sitting on a hilltop a few miles outside of the city, the castle is another example of Victorian architecture and offers spectacular views of Dunedin Bay. Or, save some time to explore the galleries, boutiques and antique shops of Port Chalmers before returning to your ship.
Those wishing to see more of the region surrounding Dunedin might consider an excursion on the Taieri Gorge Railway, a four hour trip with morning and afternoon departures. The train typically departs from the Dunedin Railway Station, but if you book a tour, you will likely depart from, and return to, the port instead.
The official language is English and the local currency is the New Zealand dollar. ATMs are readily available and credit cards are widely accepted. Temporary visitor information booths are set up at the port when cruise ships are in port.