Ports of Auckland (POA) has released a 30-year master plan detailing prospective projects to help build the port until its site is moved from the Waitematā Harbour.
The proposal includes automating Auckland’s container terminal, adding three new cranes, deepening its berths, and possibly extending berth length past its current 300 m.
Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said: “This work, along with other projects outlined in the plan, will provide us with additional capacity in our container terminal to serve a population of up to 5 million – three times the number of people living in Auckland today.”
The three cranes have already been ordered and will go to the Fergusson North Wharf, which will become Auckland’s main container facility, alongside its three other berths.
The port will ditch its 13 m tall manual straddle carriers in favour of 15.8 m tall automated straddle carriers in 2019, which the port said will increase its capacity by a third.
POA said it already has consent to deepen its three container ship berths to between 13.5 and 14.5 m, although it will need to seek consent to deepen Fergusson Wharf to past 15.5 m.
The authority also said it will consider extending the Fergusson North Wharf 30 m to the east if ships continue to grow.
The POA said: “When Fergusson North Wharf was designed in the 1990s, it was thought that a 300-metre-long berth would be more than enough for the likely increase in container ship size.
“Back then the biggest container ships calling at Auckland were only 250 metres long. How times change.”
Auckland’s container port is facing a move to Northport, 140 km north of Auckland, after New Zealand’s Labour Party struck a coalition deal with New Zealand First to form a government earlier this year.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has been vocal in his desire to move container operations out of Waitematā Harbour in Auckland, telling local news outlet The New Zealand Herald that he wants the move done by 2027.
Peters said: “The days of the Ports of Auckland as a container port and as a car yard are numbered.
“Aucklanders want their harbour back while Northlanders want the jobs and opportunity that would come from Northport’s transformation.”