A special suction hopper dredger will be stationed off Northport, at Marsden Pt, from today to dredge the seabed for the first time in 17 years.

Maintenance dredging is due to start at Northport today.

The work to remove sediment build-up in the ship turning basin near Snake Bank, along Northport's linear berth and at Refining NZ's Jetty 1 berth pocket, will continue for most of the month.

Northport said the work has nothing to do with either its vision for growth, unveiled earlier this year, or Refining NZ's channel deepening programme.

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"The operation will be highly visible so we wanted to head off at the pass any concerns that it has anything to do with either of those projects," said Northport chief executive Jon Moore.

"It is purely to bring the depth of these operational areas at the harbour entrance back down to consented levels."

The work will be undertaken by Dutch Dredging NZ using a specialist trailing suction hopper dredger, the Albatros, which has been brought up to Whangarei Harbour from Nelson.

Northport is asking boaties to give the dredging operation a wide berth while the work is carried out.

The Albatros will be displaying the international navigation day shapes for a vessel engaged in dredging operations and restricted in its ability to manoeuvre; ball, diamond, ball and two black balls at the side on which vessels must not pass.

The vessel will only be operating during daylight hours. The Albatros will be pumping dredging spoil ashore at the western end of Northport's linear berth.

Some of this material will be used by Northport as landfill for its existing southwest development project.

Northport, situated at Marsden Pt, is New Zealand's northernmost deep-water port. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570 metre linear berth.

The port is owned and operated by Northport Ltd, itself owned equally by Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd and the Port of Tauranga Ltd.