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Port of Tauranga Sets New Zealand Container Throughput Record

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 one millionth TEU crossed the wharf on 6 June and the Company celebrated with customers and stakeholders at an event today.

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 says.

“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,” says Mark.

The dredging programme 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.

“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,” says Mark.

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.

Port of Tauranga 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 is also seeing an increase in the average vessel size of cruise ships and bulk cargo ships, including logging vessels. Royal Carribean’s cruise ship Ovation of the Seas, 340 metres long and carrying 4,900 passengers, made its maiden visit in December.

Port of Tauranga handles more than 20 million tonnes of cargo annually, including 41% of the country’s exports.

It is estimated that the port is responsible for 43% of the Bay of Plenty’s GDP. The region has the fastest-growing economy in the country, increasing 7.7% in 2016.

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