At the southern, “English” end of Akaroa, a public jetty was built at the end of Church Street in 1858-59. In 1887, the Akaroa Borough Council approved construction of a new main wharf. It was described at the time as the largest undertaking the “little borough” had yet attempted.
The wharf was built in 1887-88 and opened on 22 August 1888 by the mayor. A plaque set in concrete at the base of the wharf records the opening. From the concrete base a timber wharf extended into water deep enough for large coastal steamers to tie up. Though most shipping used the new wharf after 1888, the old Church Street wharf remained in use mainly by fishermen until it finally disappeared in the 1930s.
The structures on the Town Wharf have changed in size, appearance and use through the years. With the decline of both coastal shipping and, somewhat later, the local fishing industry, the wharf is now used mainly by boats taking visitors to Akaroa out onto the harbour for sight-seeing or to swim with the local population of the rare Hector’s dolphin.