Feb 13 2020

St Martins/Quarantine Island

Published by under Both Hikers & Trampers,Camps

*Click this Wikipedia entry on Quarantine Island, if you wish.
*Click here for a PDF fact sheet of the original Quarantine Island
*And here is the St Martin Island Community web page. Click the photo at the bottom to see original buildings!
*Click a quarantine-island-botanical-report for a (bit dated) 1987 report on the island’s vegetation, if you like.

4. 12/2/2020. Quarantine Island. Leaders Janice and Peter

43 hikers and trampers parked at Back Beach, Port Chalmers and walked along the wharf
edge past the stacks of logs. No cruise ship in port this time. Headed up the hill to our
morning tea spot at the beautifully maintained Lady Thorn Dell.


Photo and Caption John – “Morning tea at Lady Thorn Dell”

The lookout gave us good views of the container wharf which was busy with a container ship in.

Port chalmers from aboveres

Photo and Caption Clive _ “Port Chalmers from above.”

Meandered along the road , through the cemetery, and down to the main Aramoana road.


Photo and Caption John – “Visiting the Cemetary.”

A small detour took us down to the new extended fishing wharf at Boiler Point.


new wharf boiler pointres

Photo and Caption Clive – “New wharf boiler point”

what to see in Port Chalmersres

Photo and Caption Clive – “What to see in Port Chalmers”

Carried on to the main street of Port Chalmers and up the hill to the lookout and Ralph Houtere Sculpture Park.


Ralph Hotere sculptureres

Photo and Caption Clive – “Ralph Houtere sculptures.”

Back down a bush track to Back Beach. With half an hour to go before the boat was due to arrive
most of us lunched in the car park. Were entertained by a heap of shags and gulls feasting
on some small silver fish. By this time the weather had cleared from a slightly drizzly misty
start to a very pleasant sunny calm day. Perfect for a boat trip.



Photo and Caption John – “On our way.”

Another two hikers arrived, which brought our numbers up to 45. Because of the numbers, the boat did two trips to the island. We were met by a very enthusiastic knowledgeable volunteer who took us to the old married quarters and gave us a very detailed overview of the history of the island.

renovation inside married quartersres

Photo and Caption Clive – “Renovation inside married quarters.”


Photo and Caption John – “Time for a break.”


Quarantine Island chapelres

Photo and Caption Clive -“Quarantine Island chapel”

The renovations to this building have now been completed. Following this the majority of the
group did the half hour walk round the point, through the old cemetery, returning to the
wharf to be transported back to the car park.


Photo and Caption John – “Harbour view”


Photo and Caption John – “All aboard”

Refreshments (including a yummy Devonshire tea for some of us) were at the historic Careys Bay Hotel – a pleasant end to the day sitting in front of the hotel overlooking the boat harbour.

Taieri Tramping Club2

Photo and Caption Janice – “the Quarantine Island visitors.”

Jan and Peter

3. 18/3/2015. Quarantine/St Martin Island from Port Chalmers. Leaders: Jan and Peter.

The weather was atrocious. Twenty-four Hikers and Ramblers arrived at the Back Beach car park. The rain fell. The wind blew.  Leaders had told us our ferry to the island wasn’t to leave till 12.30 p.m. The sensible ones of us I believe waited out the morning in the shelter of their vehicles. The sillier ones were immediately into Parkas and gloves. Storm gear.

And off we set. Back the way we had come. Past the never-ending stretch of stacked logs, past the cruise ship, through the main intersection, up and along the road behind the church, across the railway line and on to Lady Thorn Dell. Here we gathered in the most sheltered (??) spot for morning tea. Few sat and even fewer partook. It was wet and cold.


Then surprise, upon the scene came up the two Lions Club members we had met as we entered the Dell, engaged in tidying the place up in preparation of a forthcoming important visit. They welcomed us and told us everything we could wish to know about the Dell’s history, from early quarrying of the rock, which initially was a hill stretching out to the water’s edge and whose stone now graces many of Dunedin’s buildings, notably the Railway Station, on through its life as a rubbish dump and subsequent clearing, to enable the further rhododendron planting and the present day. Wonderful.

Whereas we had earlier briefly entertained the idea of taking hot coffee in the warm embrace of Careys Bay Hotel, more time had now elapsed, so it was back down to the town,…

Local graffiti

Local graffiti. On a shed wall a little way down from the Dell.

…in search of coffee that was more local. But the town was asleep, despite the cruise ship’s presence. No tourists. No cafes.

So we wandered around a bit, eventually sloping off in twos and fours back to the cars. We lunched separately, some in cars, some in other shelter, some exploring, until ferry-time arrived. Jan collected our ten dollar notes for paying the fare, and we boarded.

The VIvienne I

The VIvienne I

A lovely boat. Powerful too. The channel was a bit rough but in the lee of the island, all was smooth. And the sun had appeared and the rain had gone. A brightening-up afternoon. Hurrah.

It was no trouble alighting at the new wharf. The new island warden filled us in on local history, a salient point being that the St Martins Island Group name had very recently given way to the Quarantine Island Group name. Two other groups were there on the day, one of them being a two-day Tokomairio School Group. Our stay was a two-hour one, set to return at 3.00 p.m.

Rammed earth floor

Rammed earth floor. A feature of the Island’s Chapel.

The walk round the top of the island was only half an hour. Lovely bush. The wind was strong on the sou-west side, the one exposed towards Dunedin, but the bush part of the track provided good shelter.

Having walked the main track,…

Track to loop

Track leading to loop track

On the loop track

On the loop track

…some wandered off towards the old graveyard and the Portobello end of the island.

The Cemetery

The Cemetery

The few sheep on the island were sheltered under a small plantation of pines. A brick chimney was all that remained of the old hospital.

Back towards the main buildings, the married quarters, once two-storied but now just a large hall, had been straightened up from an earlier lean, looking good in its fresh coat of paint.


Restored outside  of Married Quarters Building

Inside old Married Quarters Building

Inside old Married Quarters Building

The ‘wanderers’ joined the others waiting in the sun till ferry-time arrived.


Waiting in sun for ferry’s arrival.

All went smoothly as we reboarded and ‘sailed’ (?) back to the car park. A significant point, picked up from the crew, was that among them was the boat’s present owner, and the new owner , the one of the Monarch. This boat had apparently had a capacity for 33 passengers.

All agreed it had been a good day, all round. A day with a difference. A day to re-establish connections between Ramblers and old and newer Hikers.

Thanks to Janice and Peter for the day. – Ian.

2. 22/4/1998 St Martin/Quarantine Island Camp

1. 5/3/1997. Martin Island Cruise.

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply