Auckland Council has 2 competing views before it on the future of a section of city waterfront – a report out last week saying the port operation needs more space, and another this week advocating more non-cargo use of the central wharves.
The council commissioned a study from NZIER (the NZ Institute of Economic Research) to inform decision-making on the draft rule on port reclamation provided for in the proposed unitary plan. “Our key finding is that ultimately, Ports of Auckland Ltd will need more multi-cargo wharf space to grow or some of its business will go to competing ports,” NZIER chief executive Laurence Kubiak said.
For the second report, which will go to the council’s Auckland development committee on Thursday, the council’s city centre integration unit put together a team representing the council, Auckland Transport, Waterfront Auckland, ATEED (Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development) & Ports of Auckland to investigate options for the development of the central wharves from the Viaduct to Bledisloe Wharf, and to provide quality public space & access to the waterfront, providing for the continued growth forecast for ferries, cruise ships, tourist services & superyachts.
They have recommended endorsing the extension of Captain Cook Wharf (option 4) as the preferred option for the development of the central wharves, and want to write a further report describing issues & opportunities, timing & funding options for any development.
The proposal would enable redevelopment of the Downtown ferry terminal and would allow Queens Wharf to achieve its role as the “people’s wharf” and host more major events.
City Centre Integration general manager Rick Walden said in the report the development of Captain Cook Wharf for larger cruise ships would impact on Ports of Auckland’s ability to handle the growth of multi-cargo, which would require “modification & addition to berths & storage space in the Port precinct”.
Opening the red fence east of Queens Wharf for public access is one of the key actions in the city centre masterplan intended to turn the waterfront into “a world-class destination that excites the senses and celebrates our sea-loving Pacific culture & maritime history”.
The Downtown framework added to this, identifying the need for a central wharves strategy to “balance the growth of ferry, cruise, visitor services & port operations in a limited space with aspirations for a vibrant people-oriented waterfront….
“The proposed option benefits Auckland’s economy through the growth & attractiveness of public transport use, increased cruise ship & superyacht visits and improved visitor services. Opening up the waterfront and extending the public realm provides iconic locations for major events and complements projects to improve the liveability of Auckland, attracting people & investment. There are also benefits for the rest of New Zealand, primarily through the development of Auckland as a cruise hub, with a resultant increase in ship visits to other regional ports.”
Setting the port accommodation question aside, Mr Walden said the council agencies had examined the operational difficulties & growth projections for ferry services, cruise ships, tourist vessels & superyachts. Their conclusions:
- Ferry development plans will result in a 50% growth in patronage by 2026. This growth is limited by the availability of ferry berths at the Downtown terminal and the inefficiency of the terminal facilities. The proposed option allows growth in ferry berths to meet demands
- Cruiseship visits currently contribute $160 million to the Auckland economy, delivering nearly 3000 jobs. Cruise ship visits are projected to grow from 100 to about 150/year by 2030, and passenger numbers from 200,000 to 350,000. Cruise ships are getting larger, but the new larger ships are not able to berth in Auckland. Cruise lines are indicating that these ships will come to Auckland within 5 years. The projected increase in annual value to the Auckland economy to $300 million will not occur without additional infrastructure. It is noted that other New Zealand cruise ports need Auckland to be able to accommodate these ships, otherwise they will not come to the country and hence a lost benefit nationally
- Touristservices on the harbour and in the gulf are increasing. Anticipated growth in the range of tours offered will add to Auckland’s visitor attractiveness, but these services are spread across the waterfront. Consolidation in a ‘tourism hub’ will enable visitors to readily access these services
- Superyachtvisits are restricted by limited infrastructure both for larger vessels and for the growing demand. Superyachts contribute about $30 million/year to the Auckland economy, three-quarters of which is spent with the marine sector.
Attribution: Council report.