Cruise ships prompt port changes

Large logging ships may be travelling up Otago Harbour to Dunedin within the next five years, in a bid to make way for growing cruise ship numbers at Port Chalmers.

The initiative is one of a raft of changes planned by Port Otago to streamline future cruise ship visits to the city.

During a 2017-18 cruise ship season debriefing in Dunedin yesterday, Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said it was ''a small dinky'' port which accommodated cruise, logging, bulk, container and fertiliser ships.

However, the growing number of cruise ship visits was putting a strain on operations, and the port was having to do a lot more ''juggling'' to fit them in.

About 120 cruise ships had already booked to visit Port Otago in the 2018-19 season, and bookings for the following season were similar, he said.

''That's a significant increase on last season, so we're going to have to make some changes to make some things a bit better for next year to cope with that.

''A lot of planning has to go on from everybody to do a better job, because we want to maximise the outcome for all of us.''

Mr Winders said the growth was having an impact on forestry operations because logging ships shared the same berth as cruise ships.

He said 88 cruise ships visited last season - many in February this year, when forestry shipping was at its peak.

''So the cruise ship visits were a bit of a pain for them.

''We juggled a lot in February this year and we're going to have to juggle a lot more next year.''

He said staff were investigating deepening Otago Harbour from Port Chalmers to Leith Wharf (near Forsyth Barr Stadium) so logging ships could be loaded at the city end.

''We could fill the logging ships up in one go and they could sail straight out to sea.

''It's a big project. It will cost a lot of money and we need to get consent for that, but it would free the [Beach St] berth up completely for cruise ships.

''That's a three to five-year project, not a one-year project.''

He said large cruise ships would not be able to use the deepened channel because they were too wide to fit between Quarantine Island and Goat Island.

Only about 15% of the cruise ships that visited would fit.

Mr Winders said a $23million extension of Port Otago's multipurpose berth would be complete by October, and would also help by allowing larger cruise ships to berth while container operations continued nearby.

''Why it's important to us is, it means we can juggle things a bit better.

''We'll do a lot of work over the next six months to make sure we've got good plans in place to look after passengers on our wharf, without stopping container operations.''

Another issue to be dealt with was traffic congestion around Port Chalmers, caused by buses parking on slipways and blocking business access.

He said it had been suggested a layby be established in Sawyers Bay to avoid congestion, and Port Otago and the NZ Transport Agency were working together on the initiative.

''We think we could buffer a few buses there, just to make it a bit easier on town, and then call them in as we need them.''

Mr Winders said Port Otago was also investigating new GPS technology that would allow cruise ships to plot courses, accurate to 2cm, and enter Otago Harbour on foggy days.

Fog caused a number of delays and cancellations last season.

''If fog is going to stop it coming in, we can invest in something to solve that problem.''

He said there were also delays getting passengers back on board vessels because of the need to see two forms of identification.

He said it was time-consuming and he planned to raise the issue with Maritime New Zealand.

''I want to see if we can get something slightly more pragmatic,'' Mr Winders said.

''You can understand why we have those regulatory requirements, but for transiting passengers in and out, we need to have a look at that.''

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Comments

This just goes to show the authorities ( only used authorities to get my point across) are all running around in isolated circles doing their own little thing and not moving as cogs in a machine to benefit Dunedin. Why would you spend the coin to have ugly industrial ships up the harbour . Would it not be better for the harbour to be dreadged out to allow the majority of cruise ships to be in the harbour to view the Councils pipe dream of the Clam shells and allow Cruise ships passengers to take photos and be close to the city. This just shows how the council, Port of Otago and Regional Council are in bubbles and have little to no clues.

If the DCC and OHB want to improve the Dunedin waterfront- dredge the harbour and bring the ships in. Then, spend on things like a bridge....
I have never been on a cruise ship and do not fancy the experience either- but I presume most passengers would rather be bought into the Dunedin via the harbour (which is pretty) on their ship and land on the waterfront instead of busing in.