Port Lyttelton opens New Zealand’s first purpose-built cruise ship berth

   December 10, 2020 ,   Cruise Industry

The first purpose-built cruise terminal in New Zealand was officially opened by Lianne Dalziel (Mayor of Christchurch), signifying the commitment of Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) to building infrastructure to support the future of the city.

While international COVID travel restrictions have impacted season 2020-2021, the completion of the cruise berth is a "significant milestone worth celebrating," according to LPC’s CEO Roger Gray. He added the cruise ship berth had been "delivered on-time and on budget, despite the challenges of COVID-19" and that would be a "fantastic long-term asset for Christchurch and Canterbury.” 

Since 2018, contractors, engineers and project managers have worked to build the new berth. A redesign of the berth during the project's early stages minimized the wharf's size and number of piles and reduced underwater noise which could affect marine mammals (notably Hector’s Dolphins, endemic to the South Island).

The redesign of the wharf structure presented LPC a chance to reduce the wharf's embodied carbon emissions via adopting a design that reduced concrete and steel use.

From the initial concept design, it had "resulted in close to a 50% reduction in embodied carbon emissions associated with the main materials of concrete and steel used in the construction of the berth."

While the March 2020 COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown did halt work on the project, the cruise berth was completed on time and on budget - an achievement in a year that has been plagued by delays across the globe.

Large cruise ships have been unable to berth since the earthquake in February 2011. With the new cruise ship berth in place, Lyttelton Port Company will be able to welcome the full range of cruise ships, including vessels that cater to 6,000 guests and 2,000 crew.

While 70+ bookings for cruise ships have been received for the 2020-2021 season, due to current border restrictions it is unlikely these ships will visit Lyttelton during the summer months.

LPC remains positive about the future of the berth as a long-term asset for Lyttelton Port. It is also exploring opportunities to use the cruise ship berth for other inner harbour operations, such as using the space for fishing ships, Antarctic research ships and bulk cargo operations.