Dunedin waterfront gets $800,000 cash injection from Government

The Government is investing more than $800,000 into a feasibility plan to redevelop Dunedin's waterfront.

The cash comes from Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones' Provincial Growth Fund - with more money promised.

It's been described as a game-changer for Dunedin, and Mr Jones - the minister of a billion trees - is confident he's backing a winner.

"We are here to celebrate a billion dreams in the form of this innovative, aspirational, and eye-catching architectural expression," he said.

He's announced $820,000 for a feasibility study for Dunedin's ambitious waterfront development. That money comes from the Government's $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

National says that's heavily favoured projects in Northland, with just 1 percent of the fund so far invested in the South Island - but the Minister insists if the projects stack up, more money will flow.

"If Dunedin is able to show the economic and civic muscle, I'll bring the political and fiscal muscle," Mr Jones says.

The harbourside vision was designed by local architect Damien van Brandenburg, and brought to life by Animation Research.

The Dunedin City Council's already backed a $20 million walking and cycling bridge, connecting the city with the Steamer Basin.

And other parties - including the Regional Council, Port Otago, Ngai Tahu, and Otago University - are behind the plans.

"This is a way of realising the potential of that waterfront area, and enhancing the community's use of the harbour edge at the same time," Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says.

The project would include a waterfront hotel and clam shell-shaped cultural centre,along with a marine centre and aquarium shaped like a whale's tail.

And while Dunedin has a reputation for being conservative and opposing change,Mr Jones believes the success of Forsyth Barr Stadium shows the city can be ambitious.