Port Nelson rebuilds wharf

Port Nelson’s new wharf will be able to withstand earthquakes. Credit: Getty Images

A NZD20 million (USD13.22 million) redevelopment of Port Nelson’s Main Wharf North has begun in New Zealand.

The first phase of the project is to demolish the century-old wharf before replacing it with a concrete and steel berthing facility. The new section of the wharf will be operational by late 2020.

A further 100 m of wharf, the majority of which is almost 100 years old, will be rebuilt to a strength of 100 tonnes axle load that will give Port Nelson a full heavy-duty berth of 280 m in length. This will ensure that the port can accommodate larger container and cruise vessels. This project will also enable port Nelson to withstand damages that could occur from a major earthquake, allowing the import of emergency supplies and fuel to continue.

McConnell Dowell, a New Zealand-based infrastructure builder, is designing and reconstructing the wharf.

Port Nelson’s general manager for infrastructure, Allanagh Rivers, said that the investment will also improve the port’s resilience and move its main operations further away from residential areas.

She said, “Port Nelson is a lifeline utility provider under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act and, in the event of a natural disaster, would be critical during the recovery phase if the region was not accessible by road or air. This redevelopment will ensure the port can be operating in a limited capacity within days of a disaster.

“Once completed, the new section of the main wharf will assist in enabling the port to attract larger 260–270-m vessels and 300-m cruise vessels, creating growth opportunities for our importers, exporters, and the community.”

The existing 2,400 m2 Main Wharf North has deteriorated with age. The wharf was primarily used for bunkering, and the tying up of the non-operational bunkering vessels.

Rivers said, “With the condition of the wharf deteriorating and the importance of a fuel supply, the fuel berth was relocated to Main Wharf South in 2016. Since then, Main Wharf North has had no operational function.

“The port is committed to being a good neighbour and this redevelopment will help mitigate and reduce the effects of noise generated from port operations. The additional footprint on the main wharf means ships can be berthed further north and further away from residential properties.”

The redevelopment of the Main Wharf North also forms part of a wider programme of works, including the purchase of a new 70-tonne bollard pull tug, future crane replacement, and proposed additional dredging of the harbour channel.