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Port Chalmers with the distinctive spire of Iona Church in foreground, Otago
Port Chalmers with the distinctive spire of Iona Church in foreground, Otago
Port Chalmers with the distinctive spire of Iona Church in foreground, Otago

Bike Otago, the easy route

Port to Port ferry (Portobella wharf – Port Chalmers)  11 km bike ride in conjunction with Dunedin’s Bike rental in Dunedin – iBike Hire | Largest range and best rates. Of course you can cycle from Dunedin however this about a chilled out day soaking up sights and sounds of the Otago Peninsula. Port Chalmers is an industrial/historical/quaint juxtaposition. The pretty harbour, galleries nestled in heritage buildings with a weekend vibe of eateries, cafes and historic pubs. The atmosphere is a perfect start for a cycling trip. This cycle journey can be part of a road trip around the Otago Peninsula.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Historic buildings now an assortment of cafes, quirky shops & art galleries
  • Stunning harbour and Otago peninsula views
  • Wildlife seals, sea lions and
  • Observe birds across the harbour entrance at Taiaroa Head including the Northern Royal Albatross
  • Cycle round the Otago harbour bays

ROUTE + TIPS

Port Chalmers to Aramoana cycle route

Cross to Port Chalmers on Port to Port Ferry at Portobello

Cycling distance 12km (one way)

The cycle trail extends up the west harbour past Port Chalmers and main container shipping port and towards Aramoana sandspit. The route is flat (check travel pack information for optional detour). The cycleway is clearly marked.   This journey can be part of a road trip …

ARRIVAL PORT CHALMERS

You will cycle past heritage buildings now the purview of cafes, galleries and gift shops. The historic Bank of New Zealand with its triangular facade (1880) designed by Robert Lawson of First Church The Octagon fame. Iona Church grounds are marked by a mature magnificent monkey puzzle tree. The church (1872) is built from Port Chalmers bluestone, with Oamaru stone piles and kauri interiors and a roof clad in slate scales. The church is a stark contrast to the nearby busy industrial port. Port Chalmers was and is a sailors port of call. Once upon a time the town had the largest number of pubs per capita in New Zealand.

PORT CHALMERS MUSEUM

Former post office, now a museum is located in front of the port entrance. The post office (1887) is now the holder of local stories about what it is like to be a port of call for sailors. The town had an unsavoury reputation for sly-grogging and blackbirding. Check What’s so great about Port Chalmers and the Pacific slave trade

TIP

Look for a weather vane modelled after the ship Dunedin which in 1881 was the first ship to transport frozen sheep meat to England.

HUMPBACK WHALE MURAL

Look out for the humpback whale mural near the Port Chalmers wharf. The mural celebrates the town’s maritime connections with the actual creatures occasionally sighted along the Otago coastline.

ON THE ROAD TO ARAMONOMONA – CAREYS BAY

Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel is full of character, great for a stop over coffee, a leisurely watching the locals with fish, a pub speciality. Fish in all its glorious cooked forms. Standing the test of time the hotel no longer has accommodation but is still a truly Victorian pub with an excellent reputation for fresh locally sourced ingredients and friendly old fashioned hospitality. At peak times forward bookings for meals is recommended.

ARAMOANA WHAT TO SEE & DO

There are no shops or street lighting. Most of the accommodation are holiday homes (bachs / cribs). The steep cliffs plumate to the beach and water. The massive breakwater, the Aramoana Mole is now a perch for wildlife watching the harbour marine traffic. The Aramoana Spit reaches into the harbour and is a rare salt marsh. There is a boardwalk through the nearby salt marsh. It leads to a viewing platform with views of incoming ships and the local bird life. At the viewing platform look towards the Royal Albatross colony across the harbour mouth to sight the magnificent seabirds as they circle in preparation for landing.

This special area is a wildlife reserve, and is the least modified salt marsh in Otago.

Many wildlife species occupy the greater Aramoana area. Native New Zealand sea lions are often found resting on the spit and mole. Yellow-eyed penguins nest near the beach in the vicinity of Keyhole Rock (marked on your route map). The best time to view penguins is early morning or dusk.

Aramoana Beach & saltmarsh walk. Isolated, pure white sand in contrast to dramatic imposing cliffs plus a saltmarsh walk across a landscape where imagination is all you want it to be.  Must visit locations for photo enthusiasts and lovers of nature at its most raw.  Aramoana means pathway to the sea, and expect to meet some local residents, sea lions. Remember to keep your distance of at least 20 metres and do not get between a sea lion’s view of the sea.

RETURN ON THE SAME ROUTE TO YOUR PICKUP POINT

TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION

SCOTTS MEMORIAL – DETOUR

17 km (one way)

  • Scotts Memorial is a Robert Scott, who departed from Port Chalmers for Antarctica in 1910. He reached the South Pole but five weeks too late to be the first, and perished on his return journey. His hut, together with its original contents in Antarctica is the subject of a conservation project.  The Scott Memorial offers panoramic views of the harbour.  For experienced cyclists the detour could include LADY THORN RHODODENDRON DELL (FORMER QUARRY) Nestled in an old quarry the spectacular site offers sweeping views of the district together with plaques describing the historic information about the area.
  • Safety warnings: Due to the port’s layout, logging trucks have to come through the main street. The trucks are headed for Dunedin.

Unique journeys, personal adventures.

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Day trip Dunedin cycling from Port Chalmers to Aramonana spit
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Day trip Dunedin cycling from Port Chalmers to Aramonana spit

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