On 31 July 2022, New Zealand reopened its border to the world’s tourists. For the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC), this promised a welcome return to cruise ships and the chance to finally showcase its brand-new cruise berth completed in November 2020.

For Beca’s team of engineers, it provided an opportunity to reflect on the part they played in New Zealand’s first ever purpose-built ‘port of call’ cruise ship facility and to celebrate the collaborative efforts of all involved in the design, including main contractor HEB Construction and LPC.

The berth measures 148m long by 10m wide and is connected by 22m wide by 40m long landspans at either end. It can accommodate a range of cruise vessels, including the very largest ships – currently MS Oasis of the Seas, which is 362m long and carries up to 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.

The design process began back in 2016 with a site selection study before moving into an optioneering phase during which the port’s needs were refined. Engagement with the cruise industry was undertaken to seek input as to the functional requirements of a cruise berth for both waterside and landside facilities.

The concept was further developed and refined during a multi-stage ECI process to arrive at a design that met the brief of being seismically resilient, minimised capital costs, efficient to construct, and that caused little disruption to existing port operations. The design was further optimised to reduce the amount of concrete and steel needed.

As for the marine life during construction – the berth being a piled structure meant significant pile driving would be needed, not something the resident Hector’s dolphins would have welcomed. The world’s smallest marine dolphins are highly sensitive to underwater noise, so to mitigate the adverse effects of this activity, we refined our design to require fewer piles and with diameters limited to 900mm in diameter. This was achieved by providing land-based 150 tonne bollards in lieu of traditional mooring dolphins.

These mooring bollards were configured along with those on the cruise berth itself to cater for both the Oasis Class of ships and a mix of smaller cruise and alternative trade vessel types, to ensure ships could be moored safely in Lyttleton’s strong wind and wave conditions and maximise the occupancy of the berth outside of cruise season.

Construction began in July 2018 and was completed in November 2020 within budget despite construction delays incurred due to Covid. The return of cruise vessels to New Zealand marks the final stage of the project and reaffirms Christchurch as cruise destination.

More information about the new cruise berth, is avaliable here.

148 metre

long berth


passengers can disembark

362 metres

length of cruise ships

Our team says

This was an exciting project with multiple variables to consider. It required us to come up with innovative design aspects to meet seismic requirements, cope with Lyttelton’s strong and wave conditions, and avoid harm to the resident Hector’s dolphins during construction.

Letitia Drury

Beca's Project Director

Our People

Andy Harvey

Technical Director - Ports and Marine

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Letitia Drury

Regional Manager - Southern, New Zealand

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Richard Young

Technical Director - Geotechnical

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