Akaroa Wharf replacement

This outlines our plan for replacing the wharf. Is there anything else we need to know?

Project status: Decision made
Open for feedback: 1 December 2021 to 31 January 2022

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Consultation on Akaroa Wharf replacement has now closed.

We accepted feedback from Wednesday 1 December 2021 to Monday 31 January 2022. During this time we heard from 47 businesses, organisations and individuals.   The table of consultation feedback is now available [PDF, 8.8 MB] and also find out how this influenced the Council decision(external link).

You can also read the Newsline(external link) article regarding the Council decision.

Work on this project will start in 2024 with a target completion date of 30 June 2025.

The 134-year-old Akaroa Wharf, originally constructed in 1887, is an iconic landmark for the town – with significant cultural, historical and social value for the community. It is important recreationally and commercially to the seaside town, as well as the wider Canterbury region. 

A structural condition assessment in late 2018 identified that the wharf is reaching the end of its viable life and it is no longer possible or economical to keep repairing and maintaining it. Much of the structural damage is to the hardwood timbers, particularly to those beneath the water such as the piles.

Some remedial repairs have been carried out on the existing wharf since the structural assessment was carried out, while we have been working on the replacement plan. These repairs were necessary to ensure it could continue to be used for commercial and recreational purposes.

The new wharf needs to take into consideration modern needs for commercial fishing, tourism and recreational use by both Akaroa locals and visitors, as well as sea level rise.

Funding of $19.1M for a replacement wharf was included in the Long Term Plan 2021-31. The Council is keen to replace the wharf as soon as possible to keep within budget due to escalating construction costs in the COVID-19 environment.

Cultural significance

Council staff have been working in partnership with, and receiving input from, Ōnuku Rūnanga on the cultural opportunities the new wharf brings. A draft Cultural Design Narrative is underway.

Ōnuku Rūnanga have also been involved in the planning and design of the new wharf.


The existing wharf is an integral part of Akaroa’s heritage. It has high historical, social, cultural and contextual significance. It is more than timber, concrete and iron; it holds stories and memories for the people that use it.

We are keen to ensure the full history of the wharf is captured and recorded, as well as collecting its intangible heritage including personal memories and stories from the community.

Elements from the wharf which have been identified as having high heritage significance will be salvaged wherever possible. We are exploring ways that some of these can be incorporated into the new structure, or utilised for interpretation. There may also be an opportunity for the community to access and use some of these salvaged materials for other projects in Akaroa.

We will let the community know more about the salvage project and how to share their stories about the wharf as the project progresses.

What we’ve done so far

We sought feedback from the community in mid-2019, to find out what you think works about the current wharf and what could be done to make it better when a replacement was built.

This led to a list of location options that were analysed with Ōnuku Rūnanga and key stakeholders. Refer to the Multi Criterial Assessment Report(external link) on the Have Your Say website(external link) for more information about the different options considered.

A preferred location and design approach for the new wharf has been developed based on previous community feedback(external link) and ongoing engagement on a variety of options and the associated benefits and risks of each option. The preferred location from this work takes into consideration the budget available and the needs of existing user group activities including commercial fishing, tourism and recreation.

Discussions are ongoing with the owners of two buildings that connect to the current Council-owned wharf, who will be significantly impacted by the project, to resolve any technical matters prior to design and build.

Our approach for the new wharf

We are proposing to rebuild a new wharf in the existing wharf’s location, with funding of $19.1M for a replacement wharf included in the Long Term Plan 2021-31.

A new wharf will be constructed on the same footprint as the existing structure with an increase in deck height to allow for sea-level rise. This option will also include the complete removal of the existing abutment. 

A number of alternative locations were considered but rebuilding the wharf back in its current position is favoured for a number of reasons, including it:

  • maintains the iconic setting, look and feel of the wharf within the greater Akaroa landscape and coastal context;
  • makes use of the existing transport linkages to Akaroa township;
  • allows for easier connection for the existing, privately-owned buildings that currently attach to the wharf; creates fewer environmental impacts on the seabed;
  • lessens the need for costly maintenance and annual dredging;
  • requires the least restrictive consenting requirements under the Christchurch District Plan, Canterbury Regional Coastal Plan and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement; and
  • provides an opportunity to integrate mana whenua identity and values into the design of the wharf and acknowledge the significance of the foreshore location and connection to the Britomart Reserve.

Whilst the wharf may look very similar in scale, we will be improving structural capacity for loading and unloading on the new wharf, and looking to provide some additional capacity for vessels.

Alternative access arrangements for current commercial operations to continue functioning during demolition and construction phases are being considered by local operators and Council staff.

The new wharf will not be a replica of the existing one but be its own structure – using the best materials available for the conditions, which complement the local environment and take into consideration the longer-term maintenance costs.

Increased height 

(climate change response)

It is proposed to raise the new wharf deck height by a minimum of 500 millimetres. This is to allow for sea-level rise and storm surges and to ensure the longevity and all-weather use of the structure.

Increasing the height of the wharf deck means changes will need to be made to how the wharf is attached to the land. The original abutment, or concrete structure, that currently attaches the wharf to the land is in very poor condition and will need to be removed.


The two privately-owned buildings on the wharf will remain and how they will connect to the new structure is still being discussed. It is not anticipated, at this time, that there will be any additional buildings attached to or on the wharf once rebuilt. 


We realise there needs to be increased capacity and access provided through the building of the new wharf, for recreational and commercial vessels. To address these needs, the current budget includes increasing the pontoon number from two to three. We are working with stakeholders on the best positioning of the pontoons. 

Commercial infrastructure 

The existing wharf provides access to diesel and a crane for commercial fishing vessels to use. The intention is to continue providing diesel for commercial operators and a new crane will be installed on the replacement wharf. We are exploring the possibility of also providing access to petrol on the replacement wharf, for commercial operators.

Artist impressions/conceptual designs

Next steps

1 December 2021 to 31 January 2022 Community feedback
First-quarter 2022 Report to Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū-Banks
Peninsula Community Board, then to Council
for approval to design, consent and construct
30 June 2025 Target date for completion - (subject to approvals)

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Who to contact

Ann Tomlinson,
Senior Engagement Advisor

How the decision is made

  • Decision made

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