KiwiRail has backed down over the location of a new terminal for its mega ferries.
The state-owned enterprise has been in a stoush with both the regional and city councils, CentrePort, NZTA and Bluebridge over where a terminal should be located for its new, bigger ferries.
KiwiRail wants a single-user terminal at King's Wharf in downtown Wellington to accommodate its two new rail-enabled Wellington-Picton ferries.
But the Future Ports Forum partners see Kaiwharawhara as the preferred site, which would be part of a shared terminal.
There are concerns water sports would be put at risk with a terminal at King's Wharf, and the size of a parking and traffic management area required to service it would decrease the amenity value of the area.
KiwiRail capital projects and asset development chief operating officer David Gordon fronted a Wellington City Council meeting this morning.
This was ahead of a notice of motion by councillor Nicola Young for the council to express its formal support for the new terminal to be sited at Kaiwharawhara.
Gordon told councillors "we're not here to change your minds about location", but instead to confirm KiwiRail's focus was now on Kaiwharawhara.
"We want to move at pace," Gordon said.
Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter described KiwiRail's position as a "significant turnaround".
Young joked KiwiRail had taken the wind out of her sails.
"KiwiRail has now thrown in the towel and I'd like to think this notice of motion was the final nail in the coffin."
She said the waterfront was Wellington's playground and the tranquil waters of the inner harbour were home to popular water sports like swimming, rowing, and dragon boating.
"We don't want these mega ferries in our inner harbour."
KiwiRail is concerned that if a seismic event like the 2016 Kaikōura Earthquake struck Wellington, the facilities at Kaiwharawhara would be totally destroyed.
But Ponter argued seismic risks could be planned for and if a truly catastrophic earthquake hit, it would impact the entire North Island, not just the terminal.
Gordon said the project could not be delayed any longer as the current ferries were old, in need of replacement, and KiwiRail wanted to provide two tailor-made, rail-enabled, environmentally friendly ferries.
He warned councillors that Kaiwharawhara was not the "status quo" as the project would require major redevelopment and would throw up challenges.
Gordon said all partners would need to stay the course.
"What we're here to do is to make sure that in backing Kaiwharawhara, we're backing it for the long term."
Ponter said Gordon wasn't wrong.
"It's not a small undertaking and it is quite a different proposition from what is there at the moment, which is effectively a facility from the 1960s."
The partners would need help to get the project across the line, Ponter said.
He indicated the regional council would be asking for the city council's support in going to the Government for special legislation and or fast-tracking provisions under the Resource Management Act.