No commercial shipping has used Ōamaru since 1974, but the town, including its port, is now a heritage centre. This photograph from 2002 shows the northern edge of Cape Wanbrow (left), which sheltered ships from southerlies only. The breakwater was crucial to the port, and was built between 1872 and 1884; Macandrew Wharf, barely visible at the inner end, and now surrounded by sand at low tide, was operating from 1875. By then, ships were no longer being wrecked at Ōamaru. Note how the water is calmer behind the breakwater than on the seaward side.
Normanby (the short wharf with the sheds) opened in 1878. Here, the Dunedin passenger steamers berthed. The small Cross Wharf between Normanby and the breakwater opened a year later. The long, thin, wooden wharf, Sumpter, was finished in 1884, handling the Elderslie, the first steamer ordered for the NZ–UK frozen meat trade. Holmes Wharf (right) was completed in 1907.
Ōamaru, like most ports, was built on reclaimed land. The original shoreline ran along Tyne Street (second street from top).
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Department of Conservation
Photograph by Kevin Jones
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