Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully is pressing Auckland leaders to adopt a bigger and more expensive revamp for Queens Wharf than was proposed in the much-maligned design contest dumped in November.

This would push the cost of redeveloping the wharf from $47 million to about $100 million.

Last night, Mr McCully said the Government was considering options for Queens Wharf, including improving the winning design competition entry to build a cruise ship terminal and turn the wharf into "party central" for the cup tournament next year.

Mr McCully, Rugby World Cup deputy minister Gerry Brownlee and Ministry of Economic Development officials are determined to see a beefed-up version of the contest-winning design by architects Jasmax and Architectus, sources say.

Other options include scaling back the design and spending about $18 million to spruce up the wharf for the rugby cup.

Mark Ford, executive chairman of the agency designing the Super City, has been given the job of salvaging the project.

The issue was discussed four days before Christmas at an extraordinary meeting of the Auckland Regional Council attended by only seven of the 13 regional councillors.

The behind-closed-doors meeting included a presentation from Jasmax and Architectus on what councillor Joel Cayford said a "titivated and tarted-up" design could look like.

Dr Cayford said the process was reminiscent of former Rugby World Cup Minister Trevor Mallard's waterfront stadium proposal in 2006.

"What is happening is not a positive reflection on Auckland planning," he said. "By all means spend $10 million, or even $20 million, on party central on Queens Wharf. But don't rush something ill-thought-out for Queens Wharf. It's too precious."

ARC chairman Mike Lee said the council was determined to proceed with a cruise ship terminal for Queens Wharf, ideally in time for the World Cup, if the design was good enough.

"But it will have to go before the public to see if it cuts the mustard," said Mr Lee.

Auckland City Mayor and Super City mayoral contender John Banks said he was not going to be told by Wellington what could be built at the bottom of Queen St in Auckland.

"There is some enthusiasm for a quick fix and a cheap build, but that is not the expectation of citizens across Greater Auckland.

"People want something great for the bottom of Queen St and they are prepared to wait until we put in place a comprehensive masterplan for the entire waterfront."

Mr Banks favours sprucing up Queens Wharf for the cup tournament, and has said that if he became mayor of the Super City he would like to build an international convention centre, hotel and cruise ship terminal further east, at Bledisloe Wharf.

It is unclear how a $100 million Queens Wharf revamp would be funded.

The Auckland City Council has budgeted $54 million for the wharf, but Mr Banks said he would not commit money to anything that smacked of bad taste.

The regional council has no money set aside. It went halves with the Government in the $40 million purchase of the wharf from Ports of Auckland.

Two Auckland sources said that with the approval of Mr Ford, the Government could take out a $100 million loan in the name of the new Super Auckland Council and dump the cost on Auckland ratepayers.

It is thought that the $100 million budget includes $50 million for the cruise ship terminal and up to $50 million for other enhancements to the wharf, including strengthening and public open space.


* Grand plans for Queens Wharf were reduced in November to a modest $10 million spruce-up.

* Political leaders had called a halt to the much-maligned contest for a design to turn the wharf into a combined cruise ship terminal and "party central" venue for next year's Rugby World Cup.

* A joint entry from architects Jasmax and Architectus was the winning design for the original $47 million budget. But the winner was never announced.