Port of Tauranga marked a new record of more than one million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) processed in a year, cementing its position as the busiest container port in New Zealand.
Port of Tauranga handles more than 20 million tonnes of cargo annually, including 41% of the country’s exports. Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, Mark Cairns, says 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.
The dredging programme, completed last September, deepened and widened shipping channels in and outside Tauranga Harbour. The first Maersk ships of 9,500 TEU capacity, 347 metres 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.
As well as the dredging programme, 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 been increased and additional trains are now transferring containers to and from Tauranga.
The port is also seeing an increase in the average vessel size of cruise ships and bulk cargo ships, including logging vessels, as Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, carrying 4,900 passengers, that made its maiden visit in December.
“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,” stated Mr Cairns.