Port Noise

Port Otago’s main site is situated in the heart of Port Chalmers’ township. We work hard to be a responsible and good neighbour. That includes taking proactive steps to mitigate noise originating from our business activities.

In recent years, we have undertaken several initiatives aimed at minimising noise and improving communications with our community. These include:

  • Improved noise monitoring and independent annual reviews of our noise output.
  • Use of social media to alert our community to noise-related issues, outline actions being taken to reduce the impact, and encouraging two-way dialogue.
  • Lobbying for the installation of silencers on the Rio ships. Our consultants Marshall Day Acoustics received the Australian Association of Acoustical Consultants’ 2022 Hugh Vivian Taylor Award for the effectiveness of this work.
  • Working with other ports to see the withdrawal of notoriously noisy ships from New Zealand shipping services.
  • Development of a New Zealand Ship Noise Specification. See below
  • Replacing mobile plant reversing beepers, with squawkers.

Port Noise Complaints

Port Otago takes noise complaints seriously. We encourage the community to contact us – any time, day or night – with any concerns or complaints. We aim to respond to complaints within 24 hours. This allows us time to investigate the source of the noise and respond with meaningful information.


If you wish to make a noise complaint, please either:

Port Noise Liaison Committee

The Port Noise Liaison Committee provides a forum to monitor the Port’s performance against the Port Noise Management Plan.

The committee’s role is to:

  • Implement and develop the Port Noise Management Plan and the port’s Mitigation Plan;
  • Review practices and procedures to reduce noise output from port operations;


  • Encourage the port to maintain awareness of noise matters, via staff training and other pro-active steps.

The committee meets a minimum of four times annually and is made up of representatives from Port Chalmers community groups, Port users, the Otago Regional Council, Dunedin City Council and Port Otago.

Port Noise Liaison Committee

Port Chalmers community representatives:

Kristina Goldsmith – West Harbour Community Board Representative
Joe Cecchi – Carey’s Bay Association
Mary McFarlane – Carey’s Bay Association
Steve Duder – Port Chalmers Yacht Club
Kathryn van Beek – West Harbour Community
John Perry – West Harbour Community

Port users:

Kent Chalmers - City Forest
Dave Cormack - Wenita Forest Products

Otago Regional Council:

Tami Sargeant

Dunedin City Council:

Alan Worthington
Carlo Bell

Port Otago:

Kevin Winders - Chief Executive 
Joanne Dowd - Senior Environmental and RMA Planner

Independent Consultants:

Marshall Day Acoustics - Acoustic consultants  

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes – 15 December 2022

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes – 1 March 2023

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes – 7 June 2023

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes – 6 September 2023

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes – 6 December 2023

Port Noise Liaison Committee minutes - 17 April 2024

New Zealand Ship Noise Specification

In order to adaptively manage particularly noisy container vessels visiting New Zealand, the country's ports have developed the Ship Noise Specification.
From June 2024, all new container vessels visiting New Zealand will be required to provide an acceptable and certified Neptunes Noise Label Score OR confirm a silencer is fitted to one auxiliary engine/generator.
In the period up until June 2024, New Zealand ports and the shipping lines will continue working together to understand noise issues across the country's port network and fine tune our collective approach, including identifying engineering solutions, where possible.

New Zealand Ship Noise Specification - Community Summary - June 2023

Port Otago Noise Management Plan

New Zealand ports are subject to national, regional and local legislation and standards, when it comes to noise. These standards are in place to ensure the long-term compatibility of ports and their neighbours. They recognise the need for ports to operate effectively, while also providing guidelines so adjacent residential communities can co-exist alongside port activity.

The Port Otago Noise Management Plan sets out the company’s long-term commitment to assessing and managing noise from port-related activities at the Port Chalmers site. It is a living document, updated when appropriate.

Port Otago Noise Management Plan – March 2020

Port Noise Model

The Port Noise Model is prepared and updated annually by Marshall Day Acoustics and concentrates on the Port Chalmers site. It incorporates the Dunedin City Council’s Second Generation Plan (2GP) port noise control boundary and draws on noise monitoring data from the previous year.

The computer-based model represents the “average” noise emissions from port operations over the busiest five-day period each year (i.e. the year’s peak week) with a 10 decibel penalty for noise that occurs during the night-time period. The noise model provides detailed noise maps of Port Otago and its nearby neighbours.

Port Noise Model – December 2022

Noise Monitoring

Port Otago monitors noise from four points in our community:

  1. Scotia Street, Flagstaff Hill (blue)
  2. Cemetery, Port Chalmers (yellow)
  3. Henry St, Careys Bay (green)
  4. Light Tower 4, Port Chalmers container terminal (red)


As well as measuring the average noise level, these monitors automatically record audio of any high noise events (events above 75dB L AFmax ). Such events can be generated by port activity, trains, wind, local vehicles, or birds close to the microphone.

Port Otago worked with Microsoft to develop software capable of analysing these audio recordings and determining their likely source. This groundbreaking system will allow for much greater analysis and management of noise events from port activity.

Noise Mitigation Packages

Port Otago works with its immediate neighbours to ensure appropriate acoustic treatments are made available to affected properties. There are three noise zones – red, blue and yellow – with the red zone containing the most adversely affected properties.

Port Otago’s contribution to noise mitigation within the noise zones is detailed in the Port Noise Mitigation Plan.

Port Noise Mitigation Plan – March 2023

ZoneNoise LevelsSubsidy and Options
Red > 65 dB Ldn 5-day

- Port Otago to provide acoustic treatment up to the value of the “Specific Acoustic Payment1”.

- Port Otago offer to purchase the property for “Property Value1” plus additional payments

Blue 60-65 dB Ldn 5-day

- Subsidy of up to a maximum of $31,544 (subject to approval by Port Noise Liaison Committee).

- Committee has the discretion to consider application for 100% the actual cost up to the maximum figure.

- Port will consider purchase of property on the basis of a “willing buyer/willing seller” and without any additional payments3

Yellow 55-60 dB Ldn 5-day

- Subsidy of up to a maximum of 50% of treatment cost to $31,544 2 (subject to approval by Port Noise Liaison Committee).

- Property owner contributes 50%.

1 Refer to Noise Mitigation Plan
This value is inflation adjusted each quarter. Updated December 2022.
3For Noise levels 61 - 65 dB Ldn 5-day

If you think port noise is affecting your property, please contact us