Wet weather back in May has put the upgrade of a section of Whanganui's port a little behind schedule.

The reconstruction of No 1 wharf at Castlecliff will cost about $1.8 million and Concrete Structures started the upgrade in February. It's expected to be completed in September.

The contact is part of the Whanganui District Council's plan for future-proof the facility which has been languishing and falling into disrepair in recent years.

But now the council, its holding company Whanganui District Council Holdings Ltd and iwi have been considering various options for the future of the port, taking account of business potential, the state of the infrastructure, freight potential and growth in recreational boating.


Rowan McGregor, council's special projects manager, said physical works on Wharf 1 began with the installation of sheet piling to replace the rear timber sheathing.

"The work so far has been confined to one section to allow the port to maintain its loading-unloading capability," Mr McGregor said.

"The works are a little behind programme as wet weather during May delayed progress and caused issues with satisfactory compaction."

He said it's expected that backfilling the upgraded section of the wharf and construction of the decking slab will continue until late July. The first stage of the concrete pour took place on June 28.

The work is the first visible sign of progress on the district council's plans for port development.

The old timber sheathing wall is being replaced with a sheet piled wall for the first 150m of the wharf and a heavy-duty loading area will be created. Piles under the remaining 75m of the wharf would be upgraded and some of the decking removed to make the area safe.

Mr McGregor said the contractor was working around the port's existing operations.

While closing the commercial port was one option council considered, it decided to make the commercial port more viable for future use, focus on more onshore-related business, and develop the recreational boating area.

A working group for recreational boat owners is working through a concept design for the staged development of the Wharf St boat ramp, including options for a user-pays system.

A refitted barge has been purchased for $200,000 to dredge navigable depths in the port. That was financed through the harbour endowment fund.

Other plans include upgrading the North Mole and repairing erosion-control structures on South Spit.