Port Revitalisation FAQs

​​​​​​​​​​​​Why is the Whanganui Port being developed now?

While the Whanganui District Council has steadily been working on aspects of revitalising the Whanganui Port since it was bought back from a private company in 2010, the project was given a $500,000 funding boost by the government in August 2016 for a detailed masterplan to develop the Whanganui Port. The investment was made as part of the Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan (Accelerate 25) to generate economic development and vitality in our region.

How has the community given its input into this project?

Four reference groups, representing the recreational and community, commercial and industry and education sectors have met regularly to give their ideas to the Port Revitalisation Team and the minutes from these meetings are available on our website.

We also asked people what they wanted to see at the Port through our Viewpoint Whanganui blog and received a great deal of feedback. 

In late 2016, a draft masterplan was made available for the public to provide feedback about and we had more than 140 responses. 

We are also asking interested parties to register their interest in relocating to or starting up at the port. 

We will continue to let the community know how the Port Revitalisation Project progresses as we move through important milestones.

Who is in the Whanganui Port Revitalisation Project Team?

The team is a mix of marine experts, a skilled project management team and Whanganui District Council staff working in partnership with Whanganui District Holdings, iwi, the community and government.

How is the port going to be funded? Are you seeking Government funding? Can we sell Council controlled assets instead of charging more rates in Whanganui?

Day-to-day, the port is funded through port revenue and the Harbour Endowment Fund, which belongs to the Council after control of the port and rights to the harbour endowment lease income were bought back from a private port company in September 2010.

Within the Port Revitalisation, the variety of projects and their funding will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The initial business case will seek investment from private enterprise, central government and Whanganui District Council. The Council may choose to fund items through Harbour Endowment loans, rates or asset sales.

Does some of the port land belong to Kiwirail (and not the Harbour Endowment)?

The majority of land shown on the Port Revitalisation draft masterplan is owned by Whanganui District Council, with only a small strip of Kiwirail land, which goes as far as the Coastguard Building. Operationally, the branch railway goes as far west as Gilberd Street by the current Q-West Boat Builders premises.

How will roading issues be dealt with to ensure heavy traffic to the Port/wharves is mitigated?

There is capacity within existing arterial heavy traffic routes (Taupo Quay, Heads Road and Mosstown Road) to handle any growth in traffic which occurs because of the Port Revitalisation.

How will potential flooding issues mitigated?

The immediate port area included in the Port Revitalisation draft masterplan is generally not impacted by river flooding. The height of any new infrastructure will be considered to make sure it is well above flood levels.

Outside the area where the Port Revitalisation is taking place, the Whanganui District Council has been actively working on flood mitigation projects. This includes installing more effective pipework in Heads Road and under the Gilberd Street river stopbank and a swale on Heads Road (completed in November 2016).

The $6M Westbourne/Gonville Stormwater Project will handle stormwater as far back as the intersection of Mill Road and Manuka Street. This project will take three years to complete.

How can we connect the Port, which has a long history, to other heritage assets such as the tram, historic buildings, riverboat and other historic transport? What about other ways to promote heritage tourism?

The draft masterplan identifies existing heritage at the Port and connects the Port Basin to Castlecliff (through the Castlecliff Rejuvenation Project) and the Whanganui Town Centre Regeneration. We need to take an open-minded approach to ways the existing land and buildings at the Port can be used, re-used or developed. The Victory Shed and Red Shed are likely to be retained to maintain the history and authenticity of the Port.

How will the area from the Port to the Whanganui City Bridge be developed? Can rail be extended past Wharf One? H​​​ow will rail connections 'marry up'? For example, railway to docks.  

Although the area between the Port and the Whanganui City Bridge is not within the scope of the Port Revitalisation draft masterplan, this area will continue to accommodate manufacturing and residential use. The Urban Shared Pathway, which runs from the Whanganui City Bridge to the North Mole, will also continue to be developed in this area.

In the Port Revitalisation draft masterplan, the future use of the rail line within the Port area has been considered, although there is limited use for rail at Wharf One, primarily because there is insufficient space for large scale wharf-side sorting and loading areas. The present location of Q-West Boat Builders has been identified within the draft masterplan as a possible future inland port area for a rail terminus, inland port operators, containers, logs, and dry goods. 

Where can people swim/bomb in the river? Is there potential for a saltwater/tidal area?​​

The draft masterplan proposes a jump/dive platform to the east of the existing boat launching ramp, although there is scope to move this location as we develop the plan.

There is public support for recreating a Port Basin which will increase recreational opportunities in the surrounding area.

Re-filling the hole in the Basin Wall, with the associated expense of initial and ongoing dredging makes it more likely to be a gradually staged, longer term goal.

In the short-to-medium term, the location which has been selected for the swim/bomb area is tidal with saltwater. 

Has there been an environmental study/cultural impact report done?

Not at this time but we will undertake cultural impact studies where appropriate when one or more of the initiatives are advanced through to the planning process. 

The history of the area and the interdependencies of the environment and existing buildings have been taken into account when working on the draft masterplan. 

The Recreational and Community Reference Group brought forward a number of ideas on how to make parts of the port area into a place for people to spend time and enjoy.

Pre-consultation for any resource consent will be undertaken with Ngā Tangata Tiaki (the post settlement governance entity for the Whanganui River) and the Department of Conservation.

Most of the proposed development will require resource consents from the Whanganui District Council and/or Horizons Regional Council.

Has there been an economic development impact report undertaken on this project?

Not yet. We are undertaking a feasibility study to assess the economic development and community impacts. This will need to go to central government in the first instance, before being released to the public. Both the feasibility study and the draft masterplan are being funded by central government through the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Growth Study (Accelerate 25).

How have iwi/hapu been consulted?

Initial consultation over the Port Revitalisation has taken place with senior levels of iwi who are arranging briefings with hapu for feedback on the draft masterplan.                                                     

How does the port area connect with Mounta​​ins to Sea?

The Mountains to Sea cycle path will be extended through and around the port.

What about bypassing the river entirely and building a curved wall from the South Mole to make a bay facing south? T​​​his would possibly deflect the coastal drift and leave the entrance deep enough to enter.

The Port Revitalisation Project Team made an early decision to focus on the land and water area on the north side of the port and the draft masterplan reflects this. 

We know that predominant coastal drift is from the north, with the North Mole having the most influence on the depths within the river mouth. Whanganui District Council maintains the port (with minimal dredging) to a depth suitable for all existing users, including recreational boats and the coastal trader, Anatoki. 

We have also had a number of enquiries about the concept of extending the North Mole out to sea and creating a 30 degree 'L-shape' to close the river mouth off from the prevailing west to northwest winds and swells.  

The advantage of a structure like this is that it would deal with the issues caused by prevailing winds and seas, but evaluating such a proposal would require investment in modelling and costing. Building it would cost approximately $100,000 per lineal metre

A disadvantage is that when lateral sand begins to again drift around the extended structure, the bar would become even more complex and changeable than it is now.

Another factor is that vessels crossing a bar facing south would enter seas closer to side on, rather than bow or stern on, which would be a concern in rougher weather. 

Could the river be re-engineered to pass the airport to South Beach?

The Port Revitalisation Project Team has considered, after reviewing previous information and reports, that re-engineering the river was not justified. Instead, for the draft masterplan, the group focused on the existing Port area. 

A very comprehensive study was completed by the Whanganui District Council in October 1993 titled 'Wanganui Port Development Feasibility Report'. In the report, in 1993 dollars, a river diversion to sea near the Whanganui Airport was estimated to cost $15M, the port terminals $32M, the port plan $4.5 and the new port entrance work $19-26M, with extensive, ongoing bar dredging or a sand pumping bypass system.  

Natural forces influence our river mouth and we have a shallow, high-energy coastline which results in lateral drift of sand across the front of the Moles of about 250,000 m3 per annum.  

The only reason there is not a continuous beach on our coast is because the concentrated river flow scours it out. Diverting the Whanganui River would result in the formation of a beach where the river mouth used to flow. On a smaller scale, you can see the natural forces at work and their results by looking at the mouth of the Turakina River in the Rangitikei District.

Can you give us an update on the Midwest Ferries proposal? Are the Council and Midwest Ferries working together to make this happen?

The Council is very supportive of the concept of a ferry service from Whanganui to the top of the South Island. We have been in discussions about this idea with two parties.

The promoter of Midwest Ferries has met with Council representatives regularly for more than two years and the Council has provided Midwest Ferries with information to advance its business proposal.

The Port Revitalisation Project Team presented its draft masterplan to the promoter of Midwest Ferries in late December 2016. At this time the team explained the reasons its draft masterplan does not follow the Midwest Ferries plan, where much of the Port was developed for a multi-berthed ferry terminal. 

The Port Revitalisation Project Team's view is that a ferry service would most likely start on a smaller scale than that proposed by Midwest Ferries. Wharf One is well-positioned to accept a ferry vessel, with land within the port area available for the staging of trucks or cars. 

Expansion of the wharf to the west would allow a second vessel to be berthed in the area if necessary. We acknowledge that further dredging may need to be considered, subject to the vessels chosen by any ferry operator.

Since our meeting with the promotor in December 2016, Midwest Ferries has issued a new plan for the venture which incorporates a number of initiatives from the Council's draft masterplan. The updated Midwest Ferries proposal shows a four berth ferry terminal and is situated out from the current trailer boat ramp, covering the area where the Basin Wall is located.

While the Council is enthusiastic about the Midwest Ferries initiative, we are still awaiting detailed information and a comprehensive business proposal from the promoter. 

The promotor has told the Council we will receive a business and environmental plan by 1 May 2017.  It is important that these two formal reports are received by 1 May so the Port Revitalisation Project Team can include the information in its business case to the Government. 

While the Midwest Ferries proposal would be fantastic for Whanganui, it is a very ambitious initiative from an environmental, capital raising and operational perspective.

If there is to be a ferry service, has consideration been given to parking for cars/freight vehicles?

Yes. In the draft masterplan the ferry terminal is at Wharf One, with car and freight vehicles being staged within a purpose-built area within the port. The port area has a variety of areas that can be developed for such uses.  

Will local suppliers be used for the development of the port?

Any required work funded by the Council or the Government will go through a tender process. The Whanganui District Council has a procurement process which favours local businesses where practical.

How does the masterplan help develop a working, commercial port? 

The working area is proposed for Wharves One and Two at the western end of the port. This is where the coastal trader Anatoki currently berths and where we have proposed a location for an inter-island ferry in the draft masterplan. Additional berthage is shown to the west of Wharf One if wharfage is required for an inter-island ferry or coastal trader. The wharves are in the area of the port where existing water is deeper. 

The ferry terminal currently proposed in the Council's draft masterplan is in the most logical and financially viable location to start-up a ferry business.

While there will no doubt be changes to the masterplan following the consultation and submission process, the project team will ensure there is sufficient flexibility to provide for Midwest Ferry's future plans. 

Has thought been given to extending the North and South Moles a couple of kilometres to improve access?

There is no business justification for extending the current moles further out to sea, as there is sufficient water depth to allow all recreational and commercial vessels to visit the port. An extension of one or two kilometres is extreme and would not be required even if deeper vessels visited the port.

Do you have plans to mitigate the surge (swell)?

Reducing or mitigating the swell has benefits and there are several ways we could look at doing this. The re-creation of a feature on the south side of the river entrance, which was historically used to dissipate some of the wave energy, is being considered in detail. This man-made structure on the southern side of the river, known as the Tanea Bank, attracted waves and swell to break on it. Re-creating the bank structure has benefits for not just for the marina, but the busy boat ramp and any public areas within the basin. 

Coastal experts Tonkin and Taylor have been asked to review this and other options, as they model the lower river dynamics.

A second option for mitigating the swell is some form of attenuator adjacent to the marina.

Have you considered long term hydrologic changes to the river flow and associated erosion/deposition areas at the river mouth?  The project concept depends heavily on reinstating the river's training wall, but the photo of the existing site shows a substantial natural channel ('hole in the Basin Wall') in the river, right through the proposed basin. 

The Port Revitalisation Project Team is working with coastal experts Tonkin and Taylor to review options in regard to proposals to close or maintain the existing 'hole in the Basin Wall'. The hole was opened up in the late 1980's to automatically keep a channel along the front of Wharves 1, 2 and 3. When Tonkin and Taylor has finished its review, the Whanganui District Council will understand how much estimated silt will need to be removed annually to keep the turning basin useable. The Council can then elect to keep the wall open or closed at a later date when there is more activity to fund the cost of dredging. The Council agrees that care needs to be taken with every decision within this natural environment.

Will there be enough room for local boaties to launch? What about fishing?

In the draft masterplan the project team has considered an expansion of the parking areas for cars and trailers close to the existing boat ramp. Also included is a proposal for Wharf Street to become a through-road, allowing cars and trailers to depart from the area at the back of the existing car and trailer parking areas. This should reduce congestion within the area on busy days.

We understand the importance of the boat ramp and the Council has invested more than $300,000 to upgrade the launching area in the last financial year. If the swell can be improved within the harbour, we'd like to add floating pontoons to the ramp to assist users of this regional asset

In consultation with recreational boat users, the Council is proposing to introduce a user pays system for launching boats to help fund future staged improvements to the facility.

Does the travel lift limit the size of boats?

Smaller vessels can be launched by trailer using the boat ramp, while larger vessels will be launched using the proposed mobile boat hoist (travel lift).

Is this a two berth or four berth port?

The draft masterplan shows a concept layout for the storage of vessels, with the final layout dictated by demand. The draft masterplan shows one existing ferry berth on wharf one with expansion possible to the west to create a second berth. This is without considering the use of Wharf Two.

Would we be pre selling the berths to raise funds?

This has not be considered at this stage. Berths are shown in the draft masterplan so existing vessels from Wharf Two can be accommodated to free up space.

What about security at the port?

Security is important for any business or project in a public space. It will be considered for each and every area within the draft plan

How are you taking into consideration, when working on the river mouth, how to protect the banks which generate Whanganui's famous waves? 

Change to the banks would come if the river entrance was dredged to a deeper level to provide access for any new vessels. 
For example, if a ferry service were developed for the port, significant dredging (up to a depth of minus seven metres) might be required. Such dredging would remove a significant volume of material and would likely change the way the wave breaks are formed.

At this stage, the only work proposed on the river banks is to progressively repair many years of deferred maintenance and possibly re-instate Tanea Bank adjacent to the upstream end of the South Mole. 

Will the North Mole and Morgan Street beach be upgraded as well as the Whanganui Port? What about a sealed car park for the North Mole as well as street lights and toilet facilities?

The Port Revitalisation Project Team is working with engineers on the remediation of the North and South Mole, which will be included in the overall project. The maintenance of the North Mole may include a fully sealed car park at the start of the mole, along with maintenance to allow access for fishing and general recreation. 

What about other infrastructure at the Port such as service stations, tyre repairs and general maintenance for extra trucks which may utilise the area, especially if a ferry service is developed?

We are pleased to say that the surrounding commercial areas are well set up to be developed for such supporting services, some of which are already in business.​​

Page reviewed: 23 Feb 2017 8:48am