Getting to the Island by boat or kayak

You are welcome to visit in your own boat.  Please be considerate about where you moor as other boats may want to tie up too, please do not tie up on the Keeper’s boat line or to the wrecks.

Charter boats

There is no regular ferry service at this time. Talk to our Keeper about which charter boat is appropriate for the size of your group, or opportunities to ‘piggy back’ on other transfers.

On ‘open days’ and events organised by the QIKT Community, we can sometimes subsidise boat transport, related to particular grants, for example for weed control work, biodiversity monitoring, or for those with financial hardship. We also subsidise preschool and primary school aged children at our monthly open days.

The usual departure point for the Vivienne J and Ally J is from the jetty at Back Beach, Port Chalmers (see map below). Pickups are also possible at Portobello township (best at higher tides, see below). The trip itself takes about 10 minutes, but allow at least another 10 minutes for loading/unloading.

East Coast Charters; Wheels over Water: John McLachlan 027 681 4778

The usual cost is $15pp return or $7.50 one way.

Groups 13+  the Vivienne J   can take approx. 18 people at a time.(Minimum charge $100 each way).

For smaller groups of 12 and under, or if the Vivienne J is unavailable, there is a water taxi  option, the Ally J (AJ), with the same $15 p.p. rate, but a minimum charge of only $40 each way. Vista Viv jNatures Wonders operate the catamaran, the Albatross Express, which is another option for large groups (26 – 50 ppl). Usual departure point is the Portobello Pontoon or fisherman’s wharf at Careys Bay. Contact 03-478 1154  info@natureswonders.co.nz

Additional option of a wildlife cruise to Taiaroa Heads: East Coast Charters offer a discount for groups who would like a tour to the Heads during their visit to the Island. $20 pp duration 1 ½ hrs to 2 hrs (dependent on tides and sea conditions). Minimum 10 people. If the group is larger than 18 (maximum on VJ) then the groups can split into two with one remaining on the island while the other group is on the cruise.

Pickup point 1. Via Port Chalmers, Back Beach by the Port Chalmers Yacht Club.

Park in the single parks (e.g. near the jetty) in the big carpark here, near the Yacht Club.


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Pickup point 2. Alternative pickup near Portobello township.

Pickups are possible at the floating jetty, unless at a very low tide. Park there or by the hall.

Coming from Dunedin: The left turn is easy. (Note: The Marine Studies jetty is closed due to renovations (7/2016 on).)

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Warning: Coming from Portobello: The right turn: If heading in the direction of Dunedin (e.g. coming from the Marine Studies centre) be careful turning right into the Jetty area. Best to turn after (around) the yellow ‘<<<< 45’ sign and post (in the photo) as you can see oncoming traffic better.

Portobello road