Water level forecasting using recorded time series can provide a local modelling capability to facilitate local proactive management practices. To this end, hourly sea water level time series are investigated. The records collected at the Hillarys Boat Harbour, Western Australia, are investigated over the period of 2000 and 2002. Two modelling techniques are employed: low-dimensional dynamic model, known as the deterministic chaos theory, and genetic programming, GP. The phase space, which describes the evolution of the behaviour of a nonlinear system in time, was reconstructed using the delay-embedding theorem suggested by Takens. The presence of chaotic signals in the data was identified by the phase space reconstruction and correlation dimension methods, and also the predictability into the future was calculated by the largest Lyapunov exponent to be 437 h or 18 days into the future. The intercomparison of results of the local prediction and GP models shows that for this site-specific dataset, the local prediction model has a slight edge over GP. However, rather than recommending one technique over another, the paper promotes a pluralistic modelling culture, whereby different techniques should be tested to gain a specific insight from each of the models. This would enable a consensus to be drawn from a set of results rather than ignoring the individual insights provided by each model.