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Solutions To Lyttelton Community Cruise Concerns Underway

ChristchurchNZ wishes to thank the community for turning up to the recent meeting about cruise in Lyttelton. This is a follow up from ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Destination and Attraction Loren Heaphy: 

The meeting was a productive and robust discussion and we appreciated the community’s frankness, while also taking the time to listen to some of the proposed solutions to the challenges presented by cruise. What we heard from the community was a compelling case for addressing the impact that cruise ships are having on Lyttelton. 


We heard 4 consistent themes of the impact of cruise on the township, those being:

  1. Public transport – cruise ship passengers are taking space on the Number 28 (now Number 8) bus which is greatly interrupting the way members of the community go about their day to day lives. The impact of this public transport issue is creating significant and long-lasting impact on the community. 

  2. The impact on community vibe and fabric – the volume of cruise ship passengers arriving in Lyttelton is damaging the community’s experience of their own place, dispersing residents from their township, and impacting the unique culture of Lyttelton.

  3. A lack of positive economic benefit – the economic benefit is not being seen by the wider community and there is currently limited economic value from cruise for Lyttelton (although some businesses acknowledge it does form a considerable part of their income). However crew were identified as positive contributors to the economy.

  4. Impact on the environment – the cruise industry creates environmental degradation and it was considered it will not decarbonise fast enough. There was a view from the community that an environmental stand needs to be taken around the impact of cruise. 

In the meeting, ChristchurchNZ agreed that while as an agency it could not control the outcomes of cruise, it would be an advocate for creating change for Lyttelton. Lyttelton Port Company and Environment Canterbury, who were also in attendance at the meeting, agreed that they wanted to support the community in having a more positive experience with cruise and were committed to supporting looking at solutions.

ChristchurchNZ and Lyttelton Port Company discussed that we would: 

  1. CNZ & LPC: Advocate to cruise lines for a short-term solution for the coming season, with a particular focus on a transport solution that directly transfers passengers from the berth in Lyttelton to the central city of Christchurch. Some varied models of this would be trailed across the season to test assumptions and better models for transportation of cruise ship passengers. There was some interest in having passengers come back to Lyttelton town on their way back from the city in the afternoons/evenings, which can be part of the trial transport solution.

  2. CNZ: Work with the Community Board on Lyttelton cruise representation and membership within the Destination Management Plan Governance Group which is being established, with Cruise as a standing agenda item within this group’s meetings. Work alongside the Community Board to consider other avenues for resident feedback on the impact of cruise, and community channels for updates on cruise.

  3. CNZ & LPC: Work to better communicate and provide real time updates on cruise ship timings, anticipated passenger numbers and any updates on cruise schedule changes to the community, in an easy to access way to allow for rostering staff and amendments to any business or community planning.

  4. CNZ: Undertake a full Cost Benefits Analysis of the 23/24 season including resident satisfaction, visitor experience, environmental and full economic impact considering any economic dispersal created by cruise visitation. This would include consideration for proposed limits to the number and size of ships as well as numbers of passengers visiting at the same time and over a season. This also allows for building a data set that can more accurately convey the value of cruise ship visits, as the current Electronic Card Transaction (ECT) data set only captures one point of value.

  5. CNZ: More widely consider the future role and impacts of cruise tourism within the Banks Peninsula Destination Management Plan, and in the long term undertake work on what the cruise industry could, and should, look like for Lyttelton and greater Christchurch. This includes reviewing ship sizes, passenger numbers, the impact on the environment and social license to operate. This consideration needs to also look at central government’s position on cruise within the context of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan for the Environment (led by MBIE), the Milford Opportunities Project (led by MBIE) and the New Zealand Cruise Strategy (led by Cruise NZ)

Since we met with at the community hui, we have made considerable progress on what we heard at the meeting.  

The actions we have undertaken have included: 

  • Briefing central Government including Minister for Tourism Peeni Henare
  • Briefing CCC including Deputy Mayor Pauline Cotter and Mayor Phil Mauger
  • Briefing Environment Canterbury Councillors and continuing communication with the Public Transport team on updates and progress
  • Met with the ground handlers and tourism operators who support the cruise industry in order to get their feedback on the importance of the cruise industry to their businesses, but also any proposed solutions the local tourism industry might have to the challenges faced by Lyttelon
  • Presented at the Cruise NZ conference to wider cruise industry and cruise lines on the feedback received at the community hui
  • Contributed to the scoping framework of the New Zealand Cruise Strategy, including providing the community feedback to be inputted into this piece of work
  • Met directly with the cruise lines in particular Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess to work through the transport solution/s, with another meeting with full costs and scheduling to be presented by the cruise lines in the next week
  • Connected with the Cruise Line Industry Association to discuss Lyttelton challenges

Next steps and timeframes:  

We’ll plan to continue to keep you updated through various community channels as we progress. To manage expectations, we want to be clear that we can’t make any promises about the outcomes proposed above however we are liaising directly with the cruise lines who have heard loud and clear the Lyttelton community’s perspective. It is our hope that we can find a short-term solution that alleviates the community concerns and challenges, while taking the right strategic approach to the long term future of cruise in both Lyttelton and Christchurch. 

We anticipate that any solutions will be communicated to the community by early to mid-October, however as these are entirely reliant on external parties agreeing to changing schedules and covering costs, we cannot make a firm commitment to this. We recognise this ambiguity makes it challenging for the community to plan ahead but we remain confident of a positive plan being announced in the near future.