Port of Tauranga set a new container throughput record of more than one million TEUs processed in a year – a first for any New Zealand port.
The one millionth container this year crossed the wharf on June 6.
With this milestone, the Port of Tauranga continues to be the busiest container port in New Zealand.
Mark Cairns, Port of Tauranga Chief Executive, said that reaching the one million TEU record “is extremely gratifying” after taking the strategic decision to become “big ship” capable.
“We have spent NZD 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,” Cairns commented.
“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,” he added.
“The Port of Tauranga is a leading New Zealand port for container throughput and the largest port in terms of volume in New Zealand. It’s great to be able to mark this milestone,” Simon Bridges, New Zealand’s Transport Minister, said in a separate statement.
“Ports are our gateways to the world. In the 6 months to December 31, 2016, the volume of imports passing through Port of Tauranga increased by 7 per cent, while exports increased by 9 per cent,” Bridges further said.
The dredging program deepened and widened shipping channels in and outside Tauranga Harbour. The first Maersk ships of 9,500 TEU capacity 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 Süd launched in March.
Apart from 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.
Port of Tauranga said it has stepped up productivity to manage the larger cargo transfers per shipment, achieving 64% higher productivity rates than the Australian port average and well above other New Zealand ports.
The port handles more than 20 million tons of cargo annually, including 41% of the country’s exports.