With the start of the 23/24 cruise ship season approaching, here’s what to expect over the coming months as cruise ship passengers start to arrive in Christchurch. The upcoming season is from 7 November through to 8 April, with 77 ships expected to arrive in Lyttelton and 12 scheduled for Akaroa.
Christchurch is planning a red-carpet welcome for cruise passengers with the help of 55 volunteers who will once again serve as City Champions. These generous cruise ambassadors have the important role of greeters, navigators and sources of information for cruise passengers who arrive in the central city from the cruise berth at Lyttelton Port.
This season the volunteers will be able to direct passengers wishing to take a tour or experience a tourism product to the official isite (information centre) which will open on 6 November in Cathedral Square’s The Grand.
ChristchurchNZ GM of Destination and Attraction Loren Aberhart says, “Christchurch is primed and ready for cruise ship visitors arriving in the city. By creating a traffic management plan which ensures cruise ship passengers can access Christchurch directly rather than via Lyttelton, a small township which is not set up for large numbers of visitors, we know that both visitors and residents will have a more positive experience in our destination.”
ChristchurchNZ GM of Destination and Attraction - Loren Aberhart
Christchurch is primed and ready for cruise ship visitors arriving in the city. By creating a traffic management plan which ensures cruise ship passengers can access Christchurch directly rather than via Lyttelton, a small township which is not set up for large numbers of visitors, we know that both visitors and residents will have a more positive experience in our destination.”
Central Christchurch is now a vibrant destination and recent openings such as flagship stores for Mecca and Nike have made it even more desirable for cruise passengers. It is also a more convenient connection point for those passengers who wish to experience the city’s core attractions such as the tram, gondola, punting or waka on the Ōtākaro Avon River, the International Antarctic Centre or Christchurch Adventure Park. Many tourism operators are looking forward to welcoming passengers for bespoke tours weaving in both city and regional products and experiences.
While the central city is ready to be buzzing with international visitors, there have been preparations and work over the last few months to ensure the cruise season is a positive experience for both passengers and local residents in Lyttelton, where cruise ships berth before passengers make their way into the city.
A key issue from last cruise season was transport for cruise ship passengers, who were opting to catch the Number 28 (now Number 8) bus into the city from the small Lyttelton township which acts as the gateway to Christchurch. This was causing congestion and interrupting the way Lyttelton community members would go about their day to day lives.
The issue of cruise transport is complex with a number of agencies responsible for the system. ChristchurchNZ has been investigating transport option models alongside Environment Canterbury, Lyttelton Port Company, and Christchurch City Council’s traffic team. ChristchurchNZ has appointed a traffic and logistics consultant to work through the best options.
In both the Lyttelton community meeting on August 8 and subsequent discussions with the Lyttelton Community via the Banks Peninsula Community Board, the Lyttelton Harbour Information Centre and the Lyttelton Community Association have indicated that the Lyttelton community’s preferred option is to transfer passengers directly from the cruise berth into the central city in order to reduce the impact of large numbers of cruise ship passengers in their small township.
This season a trial model for cruise transport will mean that cruise passengers will catch a free shuttle from the Lyttelton cruise berth directly into the central city. This aims to reduce the number of passengers who enter Lyttelton and eliminate the strain on the public bus system. This is an interim solution while the city works with cruise lines to create a transport plan that will ensure a positive visitor experience and create a traffic management plan which will enable managed numbers of cruise passengers to access Lyttelton directly.
Aberhart says, “We acknowledge that changes to the way that cruise lines need to transport their passengers around the city, particularly at this late stage, will have cost and logistical impacts for the coming season, but we wish to reassure the cruise lines and their passengers that they are warmly welcomed in both Ōtautahi Christchurch and Lyttelton. A managed approach to the way cruise ship passengers are transported throughout the city ensures social licence to operate, and a positive experience for both visitors and residents.”
ChristchurchNZ and key city stakeholders will continue to monitor cruise operations across the season and work alongside the cruise lines to create a sustainable future plan for cruise management in Christchurch so the city can continue to welcome cruise ship visitation, which forms an important part of the visitor economy.