Managing the long-term impact of cruise ships in Akaroa

Akaroa has experienced a significant increase in cruise ship arrivals over the last ten years, which has raised concerns for many in the community about the influx of tourists and the potential disturbance of the seabed and a reduction in water quality.

Environment Canterbury and the Christchurch City Council continue to work together to identify measures that will address the impact of cruise ships returning to Akaroa’s shores when the industry recommences.  

Last month, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released a report with recommendations for how the New Zealand tourism industry could have a smaller environmental footprint.

Environment Canterbury regional harbourmaster Jim Dilley agrees with the report's suggestion that the current lull in the cruise industry is a good time to engage with the community and continue planning for the management of future international visitors to Akaroa.

“We are keeping up our discussions with rūnanga, local community groups and the cruise industry and continue to work directly with the Christchurch City Council in joint management of cruise activities.”

Ongoing work to assess impacts

Following an environment risk assessment last year, stricter controls on ships wishing to access Akaroa will be implemented from 1 November this year, and the number of anchorage spaces available to ships will also be reduced from this date.

“Last year, Environment Canterbury also commenced a review of the Regional Coastal Environment Plan, which will be subject to public consultation at several key points in the review process.”

“Currently, we are working with Land Information New Zealand to undertake a survey to gain a better understanding of the seabed in Akaroa Harbour, and the condition of locations that ships previously anchored. This will help inform any decisions we make about cruise activity and allow for a clear picture of its impact.”

Dilley notes that the pressure on Akaroa will also be relieved with the use of Lyttelton Port’s new cruise ship berth.

Christchurch City Council continues to maintain the Akaroa wharf for tourism, commercial uses and recreation and will carry out public consultation later this year on the preferred location for a replacement wharf.

“By continuing to work together alongside the community, we will be able to plan and manage the impact that international cruise ships will have on both the community and the environment when our borders reopen,” says Dilley.