1 May 2017

Cruise ships to visit Chch again from 2019

8:28 pm on 1 May 2017

Christchurch's Lyttelton Port is to get a new cruise ship terminal, which the Christchurch City Council hopes will bring thousands of tourists back to the city.

An artist's impression of Lyttelton Port's proposed cruise berth with the MS Oasis of the Seas.

An artist's impression of Lyttelton Port's proposed berth with the MS Oasis of the Seas. Photo: Image: Christchurch City Council

The $56 million facility will be funded by the Christchurch City Council and will open its doors in late 2019.

Before the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, 50 cruise ships a year visited the port, bringing in 100,000 passengers.

It was hoped the new terminal would lift this number to 120,000 passengers.

The lucrative cruise ship trade has bypassed the city since the earthquakes put large parts of the port out of business.

The port had since completed most of its repairs but said it was too busy to accommodate cruise ships, which did not bring in as much income as container ships.

It was predicted bringing cruise ships back to the port would inject an extra $113m into the region over the next decade, through extra tourist numbers.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the future of tourism in the region was at stake.

"We have had to watch the rest of the country enjoy a tourism boom over the last six years, and although the valiant efforts of our airport company and CCT (Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism) have helped keep our heads above water...

"We won't regain our share of that boom as of right. This is an investment in our future."

Lianne Dalziel.

Christchurch Mayor, Lianne Dalziel. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young.

Representing the cruise ship industry, Tony Petrie from Cruise New Zealand, said while Akaroa had done a good job of filling the gap, the region would benefit much more from having ships back at Lyttelton.

"The effect on retail businesses in Christchurch will be felt with large numbers coming into the city. Akaroa was great, and Akaroa we have really loved, but it doesn't have the variety of choice in retail and venues that Christchurch does.

"A revitalised Christchurch with choices in shopping and venues, our cruise guests will be digging much deeper into their pockets and spending much more."

Tony Petrie.

Tony Petrie from Cruise New Zealand. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young.

The new berth would also be able to accommodate much larger vessels than Akaroa including the world's largest, the Oasis of the Seas, which could fit 5400 people.

"These will be extra people coming into Christchurch that hasn't been coming here in the past. As soon as they are certain that the port is going to be ready, they will be making bookings. I can tell you there will be a stampede."

Peter Davie.

Lyttelton Port Company's chief executive, Peter Davie. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young.

Lyttelton Port Company, rather than the council, will fund the berth.

Until now, the port has always said the project did not stack up financially given it could make more money from container ships.

Its chief executive, Peter Davie, said the council, as the sole owner of the port, was looking at the wider benefit of the project, not just the port's bottom line.

"That's really why we have worked with the council because some it makes business sense not all of it, and we've talked to the council about a mixture between the good for the whole of Canterbury and the good for our business."

The berth would not include any buildings or a terminal.

The $56 million cost was to do with the amount of work needed on the wharf in order to accommodate the new wave of cruise ships which were up to three and a half football fields in length.

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