Giant cruise ships will soon be able to berth in Auckland's harbour thanks to the council agreeing to develop two mooring dolphins off Queens Wharf at a cost of $10 million.

The dolphins will stop monster ships of around 350m being forced to moor in the middle of the Waitemata and ferry passengers ashore.

The mooring structures, which are connected to the seabed, will be placed 80-85m off the northern edge of the wharf and connected by a walkway.

Larger ships will berth to the east of the wharf and cruise ships to the west following planned modifications to the ferry terminal. The dolphins will be available by the 2019-20 cruise season.


Auckland is an increasingly popular stop on the South Pacific and Australia cruise ship circuit. Ship visits have grown from 40 in 2006 to 135 in 2018 and passenger numbers from 60,000 to 220,000 over the same period.

In 2006, the largest cruise ship visiting Auckland was 294m long. Today it's not uncommon for ships to be over 350m long and 50 per cent of new ships on order are too big for Auckland's old and small wharves to safely berth.

The council's preferred choice was for a less intrusive option of an inner dolphin at the end of the wharf, but studies found the dolphin would be unable to safely moor vessels over 300m long.

The two structures will cost around $10 million, to be recovered through cruise ship passenger levies.

A request for resource consent will be lodged by early next year, with full public notification.