The sheltered inlet on the south coast of the South Island, opening out onto Foveaux Strait. The harbour has two main arms, the Bluff Harbour proper, and Awarua Bay which extends to the east. The port, which is situated on the north-eastern side of the Bluff Peninsula, is New Zealands southern most port of significance, handling a steadily increasing volume of export cargo, including logs, woodchips and frozen meat. The other major commodities handled at the port are fish and shellfish, especially the Foveaux Strait Oysters, and the raw materials and processed aluminium handled at the Tiwai Point wharf.
The port facilities were completely redeveloped in the late 1950's by a consortium of French contractors with a scheme which included the creation of a 35 hectare man made island now providing first class berthage for both coastal and overseas vessels. There is also a synchro-lift facility for the repair of boats of all shapes and sizes. One of the first surveys of the harbour was carried out in 1813 when a party led by James Gordon of Sydney, Australia, called in the sealing brig 'Perseverance'. According to a contemporary report the harbour was named Port Macquarie by Robert Jones, one of Gordonís leading men, in honour of the Governor of New South Wales at the time, Colonel Lachlan Macquarie.
In 1840 whaler Captain Edward Catlin is said to have renamed the inlet Bloomfield Harbour, after the Sydney merchants William and Richard Bloomfield.
For many years Bluff was an important port on the "horseshoe run" between Australia and New Zealand, and as the nearest port to Australia, a Bluff-Melbourne ferry service was maintained until 1939. Despite attempts over the years to give the harbour the name of various personalities considered worthy of commemoration, the name Bluff by which the headland was known by generations of whalers, has survived all others. The Maori name Awarua , means "Two Rivers" referring here to the two arms of the inlet.
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