One of the world's largest dredging ships has arrived in the country to help deepen the Lyttelton Port to accommodate larger vessels.
The Fairway, which clocks in at 230m long and 30m wide, arrived in the country for the project after a long journey from Mumbai, India.
Lyttelton Port Company's Simon Munt says the dredging ship is "certainly the biggest that's been down in this part of the world to carry out a project".
"It's really exciting to have such a big dredge here doing this work for us," Mr Munt said.
Once the dredge is up and running, the Fairway will work around the clock for three months, with a crew of 35 working two separate shifts.
During the project, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, massive suction pipes will be lowered to vacuum silt off the seabed, which will be stored in the hold until it can be dumped 5km out to sea.
However, gaining consent has proven controversial, with local surfing groups and iwi concerned about the project's environmental impact.
"The monitoring involved in this project is the most extensive of any dredge project in Australasia," he said.
The final result will see the Lyttelton Port channel 2.5km longer, 20m wider, and 4m deeper so boats twice the current size can enter.
"Being able to accommodate those larger vessels is really important for our customers, the exporters and importers of the region."
The Fairway will begin work on Wednesday.