Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has poured cold water on the Ports of Auckland's proposal to extend one of its wharves by 13 metres into Waitemata Harbour.
"What I'm happy to say is that I have always opposed port expansion at its current site," Ms Ardern said after meeting Auckland Mayor Phil Goff on Thursday.
While the is positioning the longer wharf as part of a package that would also see another wharf removed, a spokesman for Ms Ardern confirmed the government saw the new proposal as a bid for expansion.
The port's proposal, released on Thursday morning, has irritated key ministers, who regard the proposal as being deaf to the agreement in the coalition agreement between Labour and the New Zealand First parties to investigate moving the port to another site.
NZ First leader Winston Peters campaigned on moving the port to Whangarei and upgrading the rail connection to Auckland.
A Future Port Study last year concluded the port's current CBD location would not be able to handle projected freight growth over the next 50 years. It floated alternative sites, including Northport near Whangarei, sites in the Firth of Thames, the Manukau Harbour on Auckland's west coast, and a site near the surf beach of Muriwai.
The port says any move to a new site could take 30 years and in the meantime it is proposing a five-storey car-handling building (to hide imported cars from view), deepening berths and expanding wharf space, as well as a hotel or public-use building on Quay Street linking with a 1ha park that would sit above a 2600-space car park.
Ports chief executive Tony Gibson disputes the Bledisloe Wharf extension will require any harbour reclamation it will be on piles.
The port is proposing building 1.25ha of new wharf and removing 1.25ha of old wharf, including the Marsden wharf.