Port Otago Limited is the port authority responsible for the Port Otago and its two parts (Port Chalmers and the Dunedin container terminal). New Zealand’s modern export trade was born in Port Chalmers in 1882. Today, the Port Otago and Port Chalmers continue to lead the country’s export trade.
Port Otago is South Islands main international export port, largely because of its proximity to an important production area, its protected location in the harbor, and its deep waters. The multi-modal Port Otago is critical to the economy of southern New Zealand. As Dunedin has emerged as an important regional hub for export industries like meat, dairy, and forestry products and containerization of ocean-going cargoes has expanded, Port Otago has grown to be the southern gateway for New Zealand’s international trade.
New export products have been added to exports passing through Port Otago. They include fish and agricultural products like apples. Increasing demands for processed timber have also increased export volumes through Port Otago.
In 2008, Port Otago saw increasing growth in the number of containers it handled, with 209 thousand TEUs passing through its berths. Most of the growth came from transshipments (72.8 thousand TEUs). Port Otago handled 959 thousand tons of conventional cargo in 2008, a slight decrease from the prior year. Port Otago was visited by 551 vessels in 2008.
The entrance to Port Otago’s Harbour is almost 10 kilometers northeast of Port Chalmers and 22 kilometers from the port and city of Dunedin. Port Otago’s deep-water port is not affected by tidal variations, and it handles the biggest modern container vessels 24 hours a day. The harbor is dredged to accept vessels to 12.5 meters’ draft to the Port Otago’s Port Chalmers container facilities. From there to Dunedin, the Port Otago channel is dredged for vessels with up to 8 meters’ draft.
The Port Otago container facility includes 15 hectares of paved area with capacity to store more than four thousand containers. The facility also has a wash pad that can handle 72 dry or reefer containers and the most reefer points of any port in New Zealand. With three cranes, Port Otago can handle two ships at the same time.
Port Otago contains more than 32.6 thousand square meters of covered on-wharf warehouses that receive cargo for packaging/unitizing, palletizing, and labeling. The dry goods warehouses are adjacent to the container berths, and the docks have excellent road and rail access to the warehouses. Port Otago includes an all-weather load-out bay and container vanning for all kinds of export products. Port Otago operates a computerized inventory management system to keep track of and manage container traffic. The Dunedin Wharves have on-wharf facilities to food standard where both imports and exports can be warehoused.
Port Otago’s Port Chalmers handles conventional, multi-purpose, roll-on/roll-off, and container vessels. The basin is dredged to 128 meters, and it has a 700-meter diameter turning basin. The Dunedin Wharf system serves vessels with lower draft of 8 meters and no more than 150 meters long, primarily tankers, smaller conventional vessels, and fishing boats. Vessels over 150 meters can transit only in daylight. Port Otago’s Dunedin Wharves are located less than two kilometers from cold storage facilities that store meat, dairy, fishing, and horticultural exports from the Otago Region. The Ravensbourne Fertilizer Pier is located between Dunedin and Port Chalmers.
Port Otago contains eight piers. The Oil Jetty is 220 meters long with alongside depth of 8 meters. The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Berth is 62 meters long with alongside depth of 5.7 meters. Specializing in roll-on/roll-off cargoes, the Leith Wharf is 153 meters long with alongside depth of 7.4 meters.
Port Otago’s Victoria Wharf contains four berths with alongside depth of 8 meters. Berths T and U are 176 meters long. Berths X and Y are 245 meters long. The Rattray Pier is 435 meters long with alongside depth of 5 meters. The Birch Street Pier is 310 meters long with alongside depth of 7 meters, and the Ravensbourne Pier is 150 meters long with alongside depth of 7 meters.