Port of Tauranga today celebrated a new record of more than one million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) processed in a year – a first for any New Zealand port.
The milestone cements Port of Tauranga’s position as the busiest container port in New Zealand, the port said in its announcement.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, said that reaching the one million TEU record is extremely gratifying after taking the strategic decision to become “big ship” capable.
“We have spent $350 million over the past six years to get ready for bigger ships and larger cargo volumes. Some were sceptical that average ship size would grow as much as it has, and so quickly,” he said.
“We were convinced of the trend towards larger vessels. It has paid off and we saw big ships start to arrive as soon as we completed our dredging program last September.”
The dredging program deepened and widened shipping channels in and outside Tauranga Harbor. The first Maersk ships of 9,500 TEU capacity, 347 meters long, started calling last October. Ships of between 7,500 and 11,500 TEU capacity are now calling on a weekly basis, including a new seasonal service from Hamburg Sud launched in March, the port said.
“We’re delighted to see shipping lines take advantage of our increased capacity. The economies of scale mean New Zealand importers and exporters can access cost-effective, direct links to international markets,” added Cairns.
As well as the dredging program, Port of Tauranga has invested in additional gantry cranes, straddle carriers for moving containers around the terminal, and extended the container wharf length. Storage areas have also been increased and additional trains are now transferring containers to and from Tauranga.