As reactions go, it's probably not what Napier Port was expecting. But you should never underestimate some people's ability to see crudity in almost anything - even dredging designs.

Costing more than $50 million, the new wharf is the port's biggest single investment since it was established.

The release of a preliminary design map included the new channel extending far out away from the port.

Some have commented that the dredging in the design had a phallic shape, but Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie preferred to say it was "like a petrol pump nozzle".


A different map would be used during public consultation, he said, and it had been changed on the Napier Port website.

Cowie previously said the new wharf was needed to cope with increasing cargo volumes and bigger ships.

The proposal for the new berth, north of the current container terminal, is subject to public consultation and a raft of reports commissioned.

The new berth would require extensive dredging, the amount of which was yet to be determined.

If resource consent was granted, which will be applied for by the end of the year, dredged depth would go to 14.5m from the current 12.8m and the shipping channel extended.

Cowie said it would "future-proof" the port.

"Shipping patterns are changing, and larger vessels are projected to visit New Zealand. At the same time, volumes are set to increase considerably," he said.

"We have already made significant investments to build capacity and increase productivity, but in our peak season there is a maximum capacity the port's main container berth can handle.

The start of the project would be tied to need.

"We're not certain of when that will be but we do know that we need to be ready to start work immediately if required to remain the port of choice for central New Zealand.

"If we are not ready shipping lines and cargo volumes could go elsewhere, resulting in increased costs in the supply chain for our local exporters and importers.

"It is quite an exciting opportunity and it will certainly make sure we can continue to be part of exporters' supply chains."

Cost for the inter-generational asset was yet to be determined, with the volume of required dredging unknown.

Napier Port has already accommodated ships too wide for the Panama Canal and recent crane purchases, part of a $34 million spend following 2014 harvest delays, could easily work with wider ships.