About 2000 people assembled on Queens Wharf today calling on Ports of Auckland and Auckland Council to put an immediate halt to two massive wharf extensions at the end of Bledisloe Wharf.

They were supported by a flotilla of about 300 yachts and boats of all sizes circling the end of the wharf and nearby port.

Yachting commentator Pete Montgomery got a huge cheer when he said the Bledisloe Wharf extensions must be stopped immediately.

Chris Dickson speaks to hundreds of people protesting the expansion of Auckland's port today. Photo / Jason Dorday
Chris Dickson speaks to hundreds of people protesting the expansion of Auckland's port today. Photo / Jason Dorday

Another speaker, yachting identity Chris Dickson, said the harbour used to be 2000m wide. Now it was less than 1000m.

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"The same amount of water goes in and out as it always has but it is squeezed through half the space.

"That means the current has doubled. It's a rip. There are whirl pools. There are over falls. It's dangerous.

"It's an asset we shouldn't be losing. We have got boats out here protesting for good reason..it's not right," Dickson said.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby said: "Today is the day we draw a line in the sand."

A number of politicians attended the protest, including National MP for Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye, and Labour's Jacinda Ardern and David Shearer.

Former Auckland City Mayor and Act Party leader John Banks was also present.

The pro-business Mr Banks said he supported an end to port expansion, saying at the end of the day it was incremental creep into the harbour.

"My advice to the Ports of Auckland is they have to start looking at economies of scale and alternatives to seizing the harbour," he said.

The protest has been sparked by plans by the port company to begin building two massive wharf extensions and Auckland Council voting to ease rules for further reclamation.

The protest also featured a large flotilia of sea vessels looping past Bledisloe Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday
The protest also featured a large flotilia of sea vessels looping past Bledisloe Wharf. Photo / Jason Dorday

The "stop stealing our harbour" campaign says the wharf extensions will destroy views from Queens Wharf that Aucklanders paid $40 million for, and that the eventual reclamation will be for parking thousands of cars and stacks of containers.

In open letter to the port company, published in the Herald on Friday, the group said it was not against the port operating in the city, "but we are against you grabbing more space, narrowing an already congested Waitemata Harbour and blocking connections".

The ports company plans to begin construction of the wharf extensions, about 100m out from the end of Bledisloe Wharf, next month and says it will need to reclaim 3ha of seabed between them over time.

Twice in the past five weeks, the council has narrowly voted to ease tough rules for reclamation. Both Mr Brown and deputy mayor Penny Hulse support inserting easier rules for reclamation in the Unitary Plan, a new planning rulebook for the Super City.

A secret legal opinion, obtained by the Herald, shows the council could have pushed for tougher rules.

Prominent members of the city's commerce, environment and culture, including Sir Stephen Tindall, Lady Pippa Blake, Barbara Kendall and Neil Finn, are among 110 people to have signed an open letter urging the port company to "stop stealing our harbour".

Mr Brown has reneged on a promise in 2013 to undertake a robust study on the economic, social and environmental impacts of the port on wider Auckland before any decisions were made about port expansion.

The mayor has defended his position of not having a position on port expansion, saying he had to maintain "impartiality and open-mindedness" until the council finalised the planning rules for reclamation in 2016.

A number of councillors strongly oppose further expansion, including Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee, North Shore councillors Chris Darby and George Wood and Albert-Eden councillors Cathy Casey and Chris Fletcher.

Mr Darby said the proposed extensions of Bledisloe Wharf were nearly the length of a rugby field.

"The scale of the expansion inflicts environmental vandalism in our blue front yard unseen in recent times," he said.