Auckland cruise ships

(9 a.m. AEST) -- Ovation of the Seas and other large ships will soon be able to dock alongside Queens Wharf after Auckland Council yesterday approved the development of two dolphin mooring points connected to the seabed. The move boosts the Port of Auckland’s efficiency and therefore New Zealand’s potential to welcome the world’s newest megaliners.

For its maiden season last year, Ovation of the Seas had to moor in Waitemata Harbour and take passengers ashore by tender because the 348-metre  Royal Caribbean  ship was too long to fit at Queens Wharf. This season, about half of Ovation's NZ cruises do not include Auckland.

The new NZ$10 million dolphin moors are expected to be built for the 2019/20 cruise season.

The approval to use outer dolphins, connected by a walkway, follows technical and engineering studies which found Auckland Council’s preferred choice of an inner dolphin at the end of the wharf would not safely moor ships more than 300 metres long.

The structures will allow big ships to berth to the east of wharf as well as on the west with the planned modifications to the ferry terminal, according to the council’s Waterfront Plan. The plan is subject to further design work and resource consent.

According to the council’s report on its website, Our Auckland, Oasis Class cruise ships are expected to visit the port in five to 10 years.

--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor