An aerial picture of the lower Otago harbour. Photo from
Port Chalmers' wharves are long enough to accommodate
larger new generation cruise ships, but the width of the
shipping channel near Harington Pt may come under scrutiny.
Some of Auckland's wharves have been found to be too short
for cruise ships beyond 300m in length, but Port Otago has
already accommodated cruise ships of 311m and 317m at its
420m long Beach St wharf at Port Chalmers.
Chief executive Geoff Plunket said Port Otago had not been
approached about hosting any vessels longer than 317m; which
is the problem facing Ports of Auckland.
Auckland's Queens Wharf, already in the middle of a $18
million upgrade, is too small for the new generation of
bigger cruise ships and may need a $10 million top-up from
ratepayers, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Ratepayers and Ports of Auckland are already spending $18.6
million to turn Shed 10 on Queens Wharf into a cruise ship
terminal to replace Princes Wharf, which has acted as a
temporary terminal for many years.
Mr Plunket said the ''more critical factor'' for Port
Chalmers was the sweep of the bend at Harington Pt (not the
depth), as opposed to wharf length at Port Chalmers.
Recently granted dredging consents, to possibly deepen the
harbour channel for larger container vessels in the future,
also allowed for channel widening.
''We have that [consent] flexibility and could decide to
widen the channel for a bit of extra comfort,'' Mr Plunket
Last year, Port Otago gained 25-year consents from the Otago
Regional Council to deepen and widen the shipping channel,
between Taiaroa Head and Port Chalmers, but only if larger
container vessels indicated they would call on a regular
Port Otago is logged into a port simulator computer in
Auckland, and in order to accommodate the more than 300m
vessels, their channel passage had been trialled on the
simulator before arriving.
Mr Plunket said while on a ''perfect day'', the sweep of the
Harington Pt bend could accommodate larger vessels, is was
recognised that their ''operating parameters could be
constrained'' by the effects of wind and tide.
Waterfront Auckland and the ports company have commissioned
engineering consultancy firm Beca to look into bigger cruise
ships, more than 300m long and which carry more than 3000
Cruise New Zealand chairman Craig Harris told the Herald the
widening of the Panama Canal next year and increasing demand
for cruises by China was leading to bigger ships of 3500 to
4000 passengers in the South Pacific.
Already, 15% of cruise ship visits to Auckland this season
were too big for Queens Wharf and the figure would keep
growing, he said.
''Our problem is we are trying to create certainty for the
cruise lines and it is hard because these guys are scheduling
two, three years ahead.
''If we don't make decisions we are in danger of the cruise
lines bypassing us,'' Mr Harris said.
• At the Port of Tauranga, the first vessel to
use its new $30 million wharf extension at Sulphur Point
arrived off-loading a new ship-to-shore crane, the port's
sixth terminal crane.
The 170m wharf extension, due for completion at the end of
March, is a major part of the $180 million capital
It increases the length of continuous quay at Sulphur Point
Twenty years ago, the average vessel length calling at
Tauranga was 180m; the average is now 230m, with the longest
regular caller at 269m.