Two investigators from the Transport Accident Commission have flown to Akaroa from Wellington to begin an inquiry into how a luxury cruise liner managed to crash into another ship in Port Timaru.

The Seabourn Encore, nicknamed the "sexiest ship at sea'' arrived in the Port of Timaru on Sunday morning.

However, it soon got itself into trouble when it collided with another vessel.

The investigators will board the ship, which is docked in the town, this afternoon.

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Lead investigator Captain Martin Harper said they would spend the afternoon gathering information, before disembarking this evening and then travelling to Port Timaru.

"We need to understand the circumstances and causes surrounding this accident so lessons learned can be passed to the transport sector."

A witness told Fairfax he and his wife had been passing the area when they saw the incident.

"We were ... looking at the stern when a southerly came up,'' he said.

"I said to my wife: 'That mooring line's not set right for this kind of wind'.''

The witness said the wind strengthened and up to four of the ship's mooring lines broke, resulting in the Seabourn Encore hitting another vessel nearby.

A two-week stay on the 604-person cruise liner would cost $40,000.