Skip to main content

Port Chalmers

Events In History

15 February 1882

New Zealand’s first successful shipment of frozen meat to Britain in 1882 had a huge impact on the colony, paving the way for the trade in frozen meat and dairy products that became the cornerstone of New Zealand’s 20th-century economy.

23 March 1848

Otago celebrates the arrival of the immigrant ship John Wickliffe as the founding day of the province.


Antarctica and New Zealand

NZ and Antarctica share a long and rich history. From Tuati in 1840 to Edmund Hillary in the 1950s and more recent scientists, Kiwis have explored, examined and endured the frozen continent. Read the full article

Page 4 - Sites of significance

There are connections between places in Antarctica and New Zealand, and between places in New Zealand and

14 km north-east of Dunedin, Port Chalmers is on the north side of Otago Harbour. The locality, known to Māori as Kōpūtai, is where local Ngāi Tahu sold the Otago block to the New Zealand Company in 1844. A European town was founded there when Otago was settled in 1848. The Union Steam Ship Company started in 1875. In 1882 the first frozen meat shipped from New Zealand to the northern hemisphere left from the port. From 1881, when the Otago Harbour Board opened the dredged Victoria Channel from Port Chalmers to Dunedin, the ‘port’ and ‘city’ factions fought over which would be the main port. Port Chalmers finally won that battle when it became the lower South Island’s deep-water container port (opened in 1977).
Meaning of place name
It was named after Thomas Chalmers, the Free Church of Scotland leader who had died in 1847, the year before Otago was settled.