The restoration of Kaikoura's earthquake-damaged harbour will be completed by mid-year, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
He says it's essential to the local economy and at the moment it can only be used four hours a day - two hours each side of high tide.
"Commercial operators can only schedule between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of their previously planned tours and the district's commercial fishing industry has also been adversely affected," Mr Brownlee said.
"The importance of tourism and fishing can't be under-estimated - the annual tourism spend in Kaikoura is $120 million and the annual fishing catch is approximately $25m to $30m."
The November 14, 7.8 magnitude earthquake lifted the seabed between one and two metres in some places, severely damaging the harbour.
Mr Brownlee says a $5m government grant has seen work started on the marina and the commercial slipway.
The channel to the main harbour is being deepened by dredging out the new sea floor, and so far about 5000 cubic metres of material has been excavated.
"It's a big job that will result in the channel being two metres deep at low tide and able to be used all day," Mr Brownlee said.
"Work is expected to be complete by mid-year."