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One terminal to ferry them all

All Cook Strait ferries could share one multi-user terminal if a new plan is adopted.

Now-retired Cook Strait ferry Arahura loading at the Kaiwharawhara terminal. Photo by John Markos O’Neill

A joint programme has been established by Greater Wellington Regional Council to examine the best options for a new ferry terminal in Wellington. As well as the GWRC, the programme the Wellington City Council, CentrePort, the New Zealand Transport Agency, KiwiRail and StraitNZ Bluebridge.

Bluebridge ferries  currently operate from Kings Wharf, with Interislander ferries docking at Kaiwharawhara.

Both locations have been shortlisted in the search for a site for a new multi-user terminal for the Cook Strait ferries.

The consolidation of the ferry infrastructure is a “huge opportunity” for Wellington and the wider region, according to Greater Wellington Economic Development Portfolio Leader, Cllr Roger Blakeley.

“Creating a more efficient facility with increased capacity would ensure we can benefit from forecasts of substantial Cook-Strait growth, with passenger numbers expected to increase by 70 per cent by 2025 accompanied by higher freight volumes.

“Using port land more efficiently would enable other significant opportunities to be realised including the development of a new cruise ship terminal and enhancement of public access to the waterfront.

Blakeley says now is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a call on the location and design of the potential new multi-user terminal. Infrastructure of this type lasts more than 50 years and the current facilities have reached the end of their useful life.

All three ferries in KiwiRail’s InterIslander fleet – Aratere, Kaiarahi, and Kaitaki – are not far from requiring replacement, and new, probably larger, ships will require new terminal facilities and supporting infrastructure.

CentrePort is developing a plan for the redevelopment of the port in which a new ferry terminal will play a key role in facilitating cross-strait commerce.

The initiative will be brought together in a business case which will then be considered by the partners before any decision is reached.