Rich legacy, bright future


LPC’s dry dock’s new edge protection.

Opened in 1883, the dry dock is listed as a Category 1 heritage site. Today, the dock remains an essential piece of Port infrastructure.

Just one of two permanent dry docks in New Zealand, it’s in continual use, housing both national and international vessels as they undergo maintenance and repair.

Of course, expectations around safety and amenities have evolved significantly over the last 138 years, and a programme of improvements is now under way.

First up has been the development of new edge protection to keep people safe as they work beside the 8-metre deep volcanic stone chasm.

Following collaboration between dock users, a solution to replace the existing edge protection has been devised and fabricated with help from Lyttelton Engineering.

The solution sees 3-metre long removable sections of railing installed around the edge.

This allows machines to access ships without compromising the integrity of the entire protection structure.

The railings are housed in bespoke steel frames, which add strength and protect the historic capping stones beneath.

With improved edge protection in place, the next elements in the dockside safety upgrade can be tackled.

Project Manager Hannah Fyffe says the process is a bit like doing a giant puzzle.

“Because of the dock’s heritage nature plus its busy schedule, we have to be thoughtful in how we tackle our improvements. Now that we’ve installed new railings, we can move to upgrade the stairs.”

Further improvements are wide-ranging and include a solution to replace the original stairs into the dock (which are steep and lacking handrails), a new ship crew amenity building, a complete overhaul of the electrical infrastructure and a new sluice gate.

Pictured left: two people working on a vessel in the dry dock in 1900.

Pictured right: The vessel Tomoana in the dry dock for repairs in August 1901.

Hannah is excited to have recently taken the helm in this highly collaborative programme of works.

“The dry dock is a unique place that demands unique solutions. I love the challenge of honouring the dock’s heritage while ensuring operational safety for the people who work here.

“With the right measures in place, we can modernise this historic structure, keeping it functional for many years to come.”

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