The Port of Tauranga has cemented its position as the busiest container port in New Zealand, having processed more than one million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) within the space of a year.
The milestone is believed to be a first for any New Zealand port, vindicating Tauranga’s strategic decision to become “big ship” capable.
“We have spent NZ$350m over the past six years to get ready for bigger ships and larger cargo volumes,” Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said at a celebratory event earlier this week. “Some were sceptical that average ship size would grow as much as it has, and so quickly.
“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 programme last September.”
The dredging programme deepened and widened shipping channels in and outside Tauranga Harbour.
The port has also invested in additional gantry cranes, straddle carriers for moving containers around the terminal, and extended the container wharf length.
Port of Tauranga handles more than 20m tonnes of cargo annually, including 41 per cent of the country’s exports. It is a key transport hub for a number of fresh produce exports, including kiwifruit and avocados.