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New Zealand’s first purpose-built cruise ship facility was officially opened by the Mayor of Christchurch Hon. Lianne Dalziel yesterday, signifying Lyttelton Port Company’s commitment to building infrastructure to support the city’s future.
While COVID-19 border restrictions have impacted the 2020/21 cruise season, the berth’s completion is a significant milestone worth celebrating, says Lyttelton Port Company’s (LPC) Chief Executive Officer Roger Gray.
“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,” says Roger.
Since 2018, a dedicated team of contractors, project managers and engineers have worked tirelessly to build the cruise berth.
A redesign of the berth in the early stages of the project has minimised the number and size of piles in the wharf and significantly reduced underwater noise which can affect marine mammals – notably 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,” says Roger.
The redesign of the wharf structure also presented LPC an opportunity to significantly reduce the embodied carbon emissions of the wharf by adopting a design that reduced steel and concrete use.
Overall, from the initial concept design we were able to achieve a design that 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.
“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,” says Roger.
While the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown in March did halt work on the project, the berth has been completed on time and on budget – quite an achievement in a year which has been plagued by construction delays across the globe, says Roger.
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 6,000 passengers and 2,000 staff.
While more than 70 bookings for cruise ships have been received for the 2020/21 season, due to current border restrictions it is unlikely these vessels will visit Lyttelton this summer.
LPC remains positive about the berth’s future as a long-term asset for Lyttelton Port.
“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.”
LPC is also exploring opportunities to use the berth for other inner harbour operations, including using the space for fishing vessels, Antarctic research vessels and some bulk cargo operations.
“The berth is an asset for LPC, and will free up much needed capacity in our inner harbour. While we are disappointed this cruise season will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be ready to welcome cruise ships when they do return,” says Roger.
“LPC remain focused on creating a profitable and sustainable port across all our bulk cargo and container operations – for both our shareholder and the people of Canterbury.”
LPC corporate office
37-39 Gladstone Quay
Private Bag 501