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Plan approved for berthing large cruise ships

Published: 23 November 2017

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New mooring dolphins will berth large cruise ships on Queens wharf

Auckland will soon be able to accommodate an increasing number of large modern cruise ships providing millions of dollars for Auckland and thousands of jobs.

Auckland Council agreed today to proceed with the development of two outer dolphin mooring structures located between 80 and 85 metres off the northern edge of Queens wharf, connected by a walkway, as the safest option for berthing ships over 300m long.

The dolphin, available for the 2019/20 cruise season, will allow more large 350 metre cruise ships to visit Auckland providing a boost to the $220 million and 4,000 local jobs the cruise industry already adds to the region’s economy.

Auckland is an increasingly popular stop on the South Pacific and Australia cruise ship circuit. Ship visits have grown from 40 in 2006 to 135 in 2018 and passenger numbers from 60,000 to 220,000 over the same period.

Auckland is also an ‘exchange port’ where passengers and crew are exchanged at the start or end of their journey and cruise ships are resupplied with goods and services from local businesses. This includes refuelling, provisioning, hotel stays, airline bookings, airport activity and transportation.

The international trend is now for larger cruise ships. In 2006, the largest cruise ship visiting Auckland was 294 metres long. Today it’s not uncommon for ships to be over 350 metres long and 50 per cent of new ships on order are too big for Auckland’s old and small wharves to safely berth.

The council’s decision to use outer dolphins follows independent technical and engineering studies and a Auckland Harbourmaster risk assessment that found Auckland Council’s preferred choice of an inner dolphin at the end of Queens wharf would be unable to safely moor vessels over 300m long.

The independent assessments found that to meet functional, operational and safety requirements for larger cruise ships an intermediate and an outer dolphin were required with a walkway to meet the necessary safety requirements. The dolphins will be smaller in size than those previously proposed.

They also recommended future proofing cruise infrastructure for future growth in accommodating the new Oasis class cruise ships of 362 metre long cruise ships expected to visit Auckland in five to 10 years.

The outer dolphins will enable larger ships to berth to the east of Queens Wharf and will also enable cruise ships to berth on the west of the wharf with the planned modifications to the ferry terminal as part of the council’s Waterfront Plan. 

They are one part of a phased solution for cruise infrastructure that may eventually see Captain Cook wharf used as a cruise ship terminal and will support the growing cruise industry and its importance to Auckland’s economy.

The estimated cost of the outer dolphins is $10 million with the capital costs recovered over time through cruise ship passenger levies imposed and collected by Ports of Auckland Limited.

In order for the dolphin to be constructed for the 2019/20 cruise season, the resource consent will need to be lodged early next year. Detailed design work will also need to be completed.

The resource consent will be lodged requesting full public notification.