'Fantastic asset': NZ's first purpose-built cruise ship berth opened

New Zealand’s first purpose-built cruise ship berth was officially opened by Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel today in Lyttelton.

The Covid-19 border restrictions have impacted the 2020/21 cruise season, but the $67 million berth’s completion is a significant milestone, Lyttelton Port Company chief executive Roger Gray said.

"The cruise berth has been delivered on-time and on budget, despite the challenges of Covid-19. This will be a fantastic long-term asset for Christchurch and Canterbury," he said.

"Since 2018, a dedicated team of contractors, project managers and engineers have worked tirelessly to build the cruise berth."

The new berth. Photo: LPC
The new berth. Photo: LPC
Gray says a redesign of the berth in the early stages of the project minimised the number and size of the piles in the wharf and reduced underwater noise which can affect marine mammals - particularly Hector’s dolphins, which are endemic to the South Island.

“The project raised the standard of practice in protecting marine mammals in construction projects in New Zealand by designing with nature in mind," Gray said. 

"Overall, from the initial concept design we were able to achieve a design that resulted in close to a 50 percent reduction in embodied carbon emissions associated with the main materials of concrete and steel used in the construction of the berth.

Roger Gray.
Roger Gray.
“As a major player in Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour we know we have a responsibility to not only protect our marine environment but also play our part in contributing to addressing climate change.

He said the berth was completed on time and on budget in spite of the level 4 lockdown earlier his year.

Large cruise vessels have been unable to berth since the February 2011 earthquake. With the new cruise berth in place, LPC will be able to welcome the full range of cruise vessels, including ships that cater for 6000 passengers and 2000 staff.

Gray said more than 70 bookings for cruise ships have been received for the 2020/21 season but, due to current border restrictions, it is unlikely these vessels will visit Lyttelton this summer.

“Last week, we welcomed Heritage Expeditions' flagship vessel Spirit of Enderby to the berth, which has been granted an exemption by the government to operate domestic expedition cruises in New Zealand this season.”

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