First vessel berths at refurbished Ravensbourne Wharf

17 March 2023

The Magpie SW berthed at Ravensbourne Wharf at 1230 hours today, the first vessel to come alongside since the wharf's $6 million refurbishment.

For several years, Port Otago and Ravensdown had been discussing how best to deal with the ageing wharf infrastructure. The original structure was built in the 1930s, extended in 1968 and had a new concrete deck and berthing beam installed in 1994.

Last year, the two companies agreed to remediate the wharf structure, prolonging its life for another 10 years. The plan involved building a new 145-metre long berthing beam along the wharf length which connected to new anchor piles on the rear of the wharf. This will result in the loads imposed by berthing vessels effectively bypassing the existing timber wharf structure and transferring them to the 900mm diameter anchor piles.

Beginning in October, a total of 27 new piles were driven and 12 steel struts then secured the new piles to the anchor piles. At the same time, significant maintenance work was also carried out on the existing timber part of the wharf to prolong the life of the 90 year old timber structure. (Context: The wharf has over 300 hardwood timber piles holding it up.)

Ravensdown General Manager Supply Chain Mike Whitty says it was great to land on an economic solution that met Ravensdown's operational requirements. "A year ago, Port Otago said it would deliver the upgraded structure by March – and here we are.

"By using the wharf, we're removing around 2400 truck movements from the road each year. So the refurbishment stacks up from both an environmental and a community perspective."

Port Otago worked with long-standing partners, HEB Construction and consulting engineers Beca for the wharf refurbishment. HEB Construction built the Port Chalmers Multipurpose Wharf extension in 2019 and is soon to begin the Cross Wharf, also at Port Chalmers.

Port Otago Civil Engineer Andy Pullar says that all parties – Ravensdown, Beca, HEB, and Port Otago – worked extremely well together. "It's not just about the timeliness, cost and quality of the outcome. The most important aspect to us is how we can complete the job safely in sometimes challenging conditions. This was achieved through ensuring the guys completing the build were fully engaged in the design process from the start.

"The Beca team were fantastic in listening to the feedback from all parties and incorporating this into the final, innovative design. The Ravensdown team were right on board with this approach and provided great support to the site team. All in all, it was a very smooth, satisfying project with no harm to our people."