Large cruise liners will be able to return to the Christchurch port town of Lyttelton for the first time since the Canterbury earthquakes under a multi-million dollar plan announced last month.

A $56 million cruise berth will be funded by the Christchurch City Council which is aiming to welcome ships back in time for the 2019/20 cruise season.

New Zealand Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said the cruise industry was valuable to New Zealand tourism with numbers growing by 48% in the past five years.

“Without this long-term solution, there was a risk larger vessels would choose to bypass Lyttelton and Akaroa, impacting the wider Canterbury region,” she said.

The proposed cruise ship berth has been designed to accommodate the world’s largest cruise ship Oasis of the Seas, which at 225,282 tonnes is 362m long and carries around 5,400 people and 2,394 crew.

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