Lyttelton Port has been showing off the first stage of its $1 billion redevelopment.
The port's ability to continue operating despite the earthquakes has been well publicised, but before yesterday's guided boat tour there had been few opportunities for the public to witness first hand the extent of the damage the quakes caused.
At present, ships carrying logs and fertiliser unload directly in front of the township.
The port's operations manager, Paul Monk, said the plan was to reclaim a further 20 hectares so these vessels could be accommodated to the east of the port, next door to the container ships.
"And the trade-off is we then free up areas of the inner harbour for public access, an increased marina, those types of developments."
While being able to walk from the township down to the waterfront for a coffee is still a long way off, more immediate plans are afoot to build restaurants and bars in an area to the west, known as Dampier Bay.
One of those on the tour, Wayne Priestley, said he could not wait for the waterfront to be opened up to the public.
"Try and do a little bit like what they've done in Auckland. If they could do that kind of development, I'm sure it would be an awesome place to come."
Mr Monk said the port's bread and butter would remain container ships and pointed proudly to the just completed 230-metre long wharf known as Cashin Quay Two, which would allow larger container ships to visit.
"It's a unique time in the history of Lyttelton and the port. Out of the terrible time that was the earthquakes, there is some real opportunity here."
Many on the tour were keen to know whether a new cruise ship terminal was part of the port's plans.
Mr Monk said at a cost of $40 million, a cruise ship terminal did not stack up financially for the port, and plans by the city council to fund one were on hold pending a risk assessment of the oil tanks that would be alongside it.