Cruise Berth

Welcoming the world to Canterbury

We’re helping to bring the world’s largest cruise ships to Canterbury through the construction of New Zealand’s first ever purpose-built cruise ship facility.

The new berth represents a significant investment into our region and will be a major contributor to the future economic growth of Lyttelton, Christchurch and Canterbury.

The cruise berth was successfully completed in November 2020.

How it worked

Constructing the berth

The berth is located on the eastern side of the inner harbour entrance. It measures148 metres long by 10 metres wide. It is designed to withstand significant seismic events and ensure ships are safe in our wind and wave conditions.

Through a multi-stage design process, LPC developed a cost-effective design for the new berth which minimised impacts on the environment. There were two components of construction – the wharf itself and landside works to support the wharf and provide land transport services for the cruise passengers. Landside works began in July 2018 and wharf construction in 2019.


Cruise ships in Port

Large cruise vessels have been unable to berth at Lyttelton Port since the February 2011 earthquake. With the new cruise berth in place, we will be able to welcome the full range of cruise vessels, even the MS Oasis of the Seas which carries over 5,000 passengers and 2,000 staff! Overall the Port expects to host 75 or more ships per year.

Managing noise levels

Constructing the new berth entailed pile driving which unfortunately created noise for Lyttelton residents and businesses. The noise levels sounded similar to the construction of the Cashin Quay wharf in 2014/15 or piling for new buildings in the Christchurch CBD.

While we couldn’t reduce the noise levels we hoped to minimise the inconvenience by clearly showing our piling schedule so people could plan around the noise.

Environmental effects

We are committed to the dual goal of a healthy harbour and a thriving port. Environmental impact assessments were undertaken to ensure there will be no negative environmental effects of the construction and operation, of the cruise berth.

Marine mammals

Marine mammals, in particular Hectors’ dolphins are highly sensitive to underwater noise. Throughout the design process, the size and number of piles in the water were decreased to reduce noise during piling activities. Underwater noise modelling shows that these changes significantly reduce the amount and duration of underwater noise the dolphins will experience.

A marine piling management plan was in place throughout the construction to further minimise effects on dolphins. This included marine mammal overserves, procedures to shut down if mammals were sighted and soft starts to give the mammals a chance to leave the area before full piling commences.


A number of seabirds seasonally nest and live in the adjacent Z-Berth. We continue to carefully monitor the area and put measures in place to ensure their safety throughout the construction period.

Water quality

The construction had the potential to generate sediment in the water. A Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) was in place throughout the construction period, detailing management steps to ensure harbour water is not compromised during construction.

More information on the environmental management of this project can be found on our Harbourwatch publications page. 

Piling Update

Key Facts

$700 million

Annual cruise industry value to NZ

26 months

Construction period

75+ ships

Expected vessels per year

Up to 8000 people

Passengers and crew on board

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