A short-term solution to revamping Queens Wharf could be on the cards if Auckland cannot get its act together.

Prime Minister John Key said a short-term option is being looked at and could cost between $15 million and $20m but half of that will be capital expenditure which can be used in the final design.

He said the wharf was an important part of Auckland's waterfront and the design needed to reflect that.

"If it is in fact too rushed to reach a conclusion on a quality development for the site in the long-term perspective then the Government will have no qualms about erecting a good short-term live-site solution for the Rugby World Cup," Mr Key said at a press conference this afternoon.

He said the Queens Wharf was important both for the Rugby World Cup and the long-term development of Auckland, namely an international passenger terminal.

Meanwhile, a larger and more expensive revamp of Queens Wharf has been labelled a last-minute kneejerk reaction to the Rugby World Cup by Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney.

"When are we going to stop and take a longer-term view on the way we develop our city?" he asked.

Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully is pressing Auckland leaders to adopt a grander vision for the historic 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 at the design contest stage to about $100 million.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee is keen to proceed with a cruise ship terminal in time for the cup if a new design appeals to the public.

He is at odds with Auckland City Mayor John Banks, who wants to spruce up the wharf for the cup and wait for the Super City when a plan can be put in place for the entire waterfront.

Mr Swney said the city needed to provide "party central" at Queens Wharf for the cup but also commit to a long-term masterplan.

"We need a plan that sees ports rationalisation, the freeing up of Bledisloe Wharf - a far superior site for a cruise ship terminal - and a plan that integrates the Tank Farm to the west with Queens, Captain Cook and Bledisloe wharves to the east," he said.

Labour's Auckland issues spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government's determination to bully Aucklanders into an inadequate quick-fix solution seemed to be driven by Prime Minister John Key's desire to create "party central" for the rugby cup.

"We are only 10 months away from a newly elected mayor and council for Auckland. It seems appropriate to wait to determine the future of the waterfront and cruise ship terminal until this occurs and decisions can be made in a democratic and accountable way," he said.

Mr McCully said the Government explained in November an intention to step back, check the assumptions and look at all the options for Queens Wharf in conjunction with Auckland leaders early this year. He said some extra work had been done on the contest-winning design by architects Jasmax and Architectus. There were four or five other proposals on the table, but he declined to say what they were.

One option being considered by Auckland City Council is to spruce up Queens Wharf at a cost of $18 million, plus or minus $2 million, to provide services, safety, lighting and dress up the two 1912 cargo sheds for the rugby cup.

Mr McCully indicated the process was being driven by the need for a cruise ship terminal, expected to cost more than $50 million.

The other $50 million would be spent on strengthening the wharf and providing public open space. He said the cruise ship industry was worth $400 million a year.