A controversial extension at the end of Queens Wharf to tie up large cruise ships has hit a snag in the form of Environment Minister David Parker.

The Auckland Council, with strong backing from mayor Phil Goff, is pushing ahead with plans to build a 90m fixed gangway and two concrete mooring structures fixed to the seabed - known as dolphins - at Queens Wharf.

The dolphins, measuring 15m by 15m, mean a handful of cruise ships a year that currently anchor in the harbour will be able to berth at Queens Wharf.

Last week, the Herald revealed the cost of the project has blown out by 75 per cent from $9.4 million to $16.9m with a senior council bureaucrat hinting the cost could rise further.


On top of that, $1.7m has been spent on professional fees for the mooring dolphins.

The Government co-owns 50 per cent of Queens Wharf with the council after it was purchased by the Auckland Regional Council in 2010 to become the "people's wharf" and "party central" for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

But Parker has now said the Government has not been asked for its agreement for the proposal to build the dolphins.

"I have some issues I want to work through with the council and until then I have no further comment," Parker said.

A council spokeswoman said the Crown has been kept aware of the proposed Downtown works which impact on Queens Wharf, including the mooring dolphins.

"The joint owners of the wharf will need to agree to variations of various licences and management agreements to enable the works to proceed," she said.

Environment Minister David Parker.
Environment Minister David Parker.

The dolphin plan is not the first time Parker has intervened in wharf extensions into the Waitematā Harbour, which were a big concern for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she was a Labour candidate for Auckland Central.

When the first plans for a cluster of America's Cup bases on wharf extensions emerged in 2017, Parker was instrumental in reducing the amount of reclamation and saving tens of millions of dollars.

It is not known what Parker wants to work through with the council at Queens Wharf, but it could include a condition in the consent allowing the dolphins to be in place for 15 years.

This is longer than the five to 10 years that Ports of Auckland hopes to free up space used for car imports on Captain Cook Wharf for use by cruise ships. The port company has started building a five-storey building on Bledisloe Wharf to store up to 1700 cars.

An artist's impression of the 90m gangway and concrete mooring dolphins off the end of Queens Wharf.
An artist's impression of the 90m gangway and concrete mooring dolphins off the end of Queens Wharf.

Architect Julie Stout, a key figure in an appeal in the Environment Court against the resource consent for the dolphins, was pleased to hear Parker is raising issues with the council.

She hoped the Government would become part of mediation before any formal court proceedings filed by several groups.

The groups are Urban Auckland, Stop Stealing Our Harbour, Yachting & Boating Association, Parnell Community Group, Devonport Heritage, Civic Trust and the Auckland Architecture Association.