A six-member independent working group selected the option of moving Auckland’s port to Northport, in Whangarei, ahead of other options. In what could be New Zealand’s most ambitious infrastructure project yet, a major expansion of the Marsden Point port could happen within 15 years.
The project, officially called the “Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy”, would include a further 900 metres of berthing space would be built at Marsden Point, including a container terminal, space for vehicle imports, and dredging of the harbour.
There will also be a major investment in rail lines including a $650 million upgrade of the line between Auckland and Northport, and the construction of a line from Avondale to freight hubs at Southdown, using a route that was designated but has never been built.
An additional track on Auckland's Western Line to Newmarket is also proposed to separate freight trains from commuter services.
The study does not disclose the details of the transition from Auckland to Northport, but suggests the vehicle trade could move first, followed by containers and bulk cargo. Auckland would retain facilities for cruise ships, and the Port of Tauranga would continue to develop its own business.
This study was part of New Zealand First’s Coalition Agreement with the Labour Party, drawn from a 2017 election campaign promise by the former party that it would move most of the operations at the Ports of Auckland to Northport. While the Coalition Government has not yet taken a position on the plan, a report will be going to Cabinet next month.
Associate Transport Minister and NZ First MP Shane Jones said that Cabinet will be able to proceed “on the basis of what I have no doubt will be a robust final report”.
"I think most people realise there is going to be a relocation, but it depends over what time," Jones told Stuff.co.nz.