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Do we need a port in downtown Auckland?

The Port of Auckland is back with another expansion plan after the last scheme to reclaim land proved to be very unpopular with locals.

The latest proposal is something of a Hobson’s choice. Option 1 involves a fairly modest extension Bledisloe Wharf and retaining Captain Cook Wharf for offloading imported cars. Option 2 is a slightly larger extension of Bledisloe which allows Captain Cook to be handed over to public uses.

I personally prefer Option 2, this consolidates all port functions at the east end and opens up all the downtown waterfront for civic uses. WhiIe both are actually pretty low impact I can’t see either of those being particularly satisfactory to the public, simply because they involve more port and less water. There is a real spatial tension here, the port can only expand at the expense of one thing Aucklanders universally love: the harbour.

Options for expanding the Bledisloe Container Terminal, courtesy of The Herald.

Options for expanding the Bledisloe Container Terminal, courtesy of The Herald.

So is there any alternative to expanding the port, assuming we have expanding demands for imports and exports?

Well I think there are two alternatives, the first is simply to not have a port at all. This seems like an aberration, Auckland is a port city, founded on a port and dependent on a port, right? Having a well functioning port is essential to our economic well being and productivity. Or is it?

I would argue that having a port in Auckland isn’t so critical, rather it is good access to a port that we really need.  Maybe we don’t need a port actually located in Auckland for Auckland to benefit from a port, as long as we can efficiently get our goods and materials to or from a port somewhere else. This is the case already to an extent. The port of Tauranga operates an inland port in South Auckland, and tranships an appreciable amount of cargo between Bay of Plenty and Auckland by rail.

Could we not just extend this pattern entirely, say get rid of our port on the Waitemata, and leave the freight task to Tauranga and Marsden Point instead? That would probably require the Marsden rail link and an upgrade of the North Auckland Line, but those are both relatively cheap projects. Likewise Marsden and Tauranga would need to be expanded, but that is presumably much cheaper and easier than expanding a port in downtown Auckland. So would that be so bad? Assuming we can just as cheaply ship our goods in and out of Northland and the Bay of Plenty the only real loss to the local economy would be the 419 full time jobs at Ports of Auckland. One assumes most of those could relocate to the other ports in sunnier climes anyway.

But on the flipside Auckland is New Zealands largest import market, and it’s only going to get busier as the city grows. There is a simple logic of having you main port in your main city next to your main market. So the second alternative: move the port to somewhere else in Auckland.

It’s a hard task, a port needs a good supply of waterside land, good deepwater access under all weather conditions, and excellent transport links. There isn’t anywhere in Auckland that immediately jumps out as the ideal location. Personally I would like to see the port shifted to the Manukau harbour, at Puhinui Reserve immediately east of the airport. This site has land available on the waters edge and is very close to the main trunk railway and both SH20 and SH1 motorways. It’s also close to the centre of industry and manufacturing in south Auckland, next to an existing logistics hub at the airport, and perhaps most importantly it is located in the airport flight path so it’s unlikely to upset anyone as nobody currently lives or works there. There isn’t much else you can do with that piece of land except industrial uses like a port. The major downside I can see is the fact it’s on the shallow tidal Manukau harbour. That would require major dredging to maintain an all-weather deep water shipping channel, although to be fair the Waitemata harbour does require as similar channel so it might not be much different in the long run.

There are many other possible locations I’m sure, I leave that up to you to propose better alternatives in the comments section.

So what would a move cost? In the article cited above the port CEO suggests it would cost four billion dollars to move the port, a huge chunk of change, although many cities have done the same. Sydney is perhaps the best local example. They shifted their downtown port to Botany Bay and have had a series of waterfront redevelopments ever since, culminating in the ambitious Barangaroo scheme.

That partially answers the next question: what benefit is there of moving or closing the port? The short answer is land and access. Lots of very valuable premium downtown waterfront land would be freed up for other uses, other uses that don’t require ongoing expansion and don’t seal off half the waterfront from public access.

Waterfront land, and lots of it!

Let’s put some numbers on that. The container port and its two main wharves occupy some 70 hectares (700,000m2) of flat downtown waterfront land. That’s five times the size of the viaduct harbour and almost twice the size of the Wynyard Quarter.

So if we assume 20% of the land for streets and public open spaces, that leaves 560,000m2 of land for development.  What is that worth? Well using council rates valuations we can make some comparisons. At the lower end the land the new ASB building is on in Wynyard is worth about $2,500 per square metre, as are the new developments around Quay Park. These prices probably reflect their locations in new and partially undeveloped parts of the city centre. On the upper end the new BNZ building on lower Queen is worth about $10,400 per m2.

Using this as a guide, the port land is probably worth somewhere between $1.4 and $5.8 billion dollars. A wide spread I know, but I’m tempted to think that it would be towards the upper limit because of the sheer amount of harbour frontage afforded by the projections of the various wharves, about 5km of water edge in all, and because the site runs east to west most of the land has a north facing aspect for lots of sun along with the water views. Also given the position of the port relative to the city and far from residential and view shafts, a large portion along Quay St could support skyscrapers without blocking any views or shading any properties (Wynyard is limited to low and mid rise development for urban design reasons). Quay St could end up an amazing boulevard, perhaps something like Melbourne’s St Kilda Rd which is a row of high rises nestled between a lakefront park and their Domain.

Transport is another consideration. The port places a large freight demand by truck and train squarely in the centre of Auckland, exactly the same place that sees the greatest demand for commuter and general transport in the region.  Trucks have to battle it out with commuter gridlock for hours every day, while the demand for suburban train services is squeezing the ability to run freight on the same tracks. Moving the port moves that transport demand and the conflict with other transport users. I could also mean there is no need for the rail yards along Tamaki Drive, allowing them to be put to better uses also. In fact it might even make sense to divert the eastern line into the port land to provide a station there on the way to Britomart, and naturally bus links, ferry stops and waterfront trams could all be put into place.

So… even if it does cost four billion to move the port, it might still be a very profitable venture for the city in financial terms. Once you factor in the transport and land use change, agglomeration benefits and centralisation it could be very worthwhile. Part of the site, say the Fergusson Terminal to the far east, could be a primarily residential location. You might get fifty thousand people living there alone in a mix of luxury waterfront and affordable streetfront properties. What would that mean for housing affordability, the CBD economy, the average journey  to work?

A massive undertaking for sure, I guess the question is when would or could we need such land. We have the Wynyard Quarter to develop and fill up, plus the likes of Aotea, K Rd and Newton around the CRL stations once those are build. There is plenty of scope for our city centre just yet, but maybe a second or third decade plan to relocate the port should be on the agenda?

85 comments to Do we need a port in downtown Auckland?

  • Sacha

    Some have suggested relocating the port South-East near Clevedon – eg: http://voakl.net/2012/01/08/possible-port-of-auckland-relocations/

    • Adam W

      Clevedon appears a good bet – it would be interesting to see what an expert would say.

    • MFD

      How is this a good idea? A new port immediately adjacent to a regional park in an area with no rail access and poor road access. An area with high recreational value (I have fond memories of water skiing there in my younger days) with shallow water unsuited to even modest-sized ships let alone the new generation of deep-draft monsters. An area of natural beauty to be destroyed so that ACC can extract more value from the current downtown waterfront. Truly bizarre.

      This country has too many ports for the amount of trade as it is. A scaling back of POA with more business directed to Tauranga and Marsden Point with upgrades to the respective rail links (perhaps with building the Avondale-Southdown link seems a far more rational approach.

      • Yes, I agree, exactly. Clevedon is an absolute non starter.

        • Sacha

          I recall Clevedon being mentioned some years back. It sounded like the deepwater access was straightforward, as was laying a rail spur directly to the main trunk. But I don’t know much about it myself and I couldn’t see the reference when I looked earlier. May have been a print magazine story?

          • Jeremy

            There was an article in the Herald about locating to Matingarahi Point last year.

          • Well that has deeper water but is even further away from transport and services, and well, everything. And turning this relatively unspoilt bit of coastline into heavily industrialised infrastructure looks entirely unwelcome to me. Work with the three ports we’ve got, sort the freight links.

    • I was wondering why I got a spike in traffic for what are usually quite Sunday’s. Thanks for the consideration Sacha :)

      As for kicking out to Clevedon, I am not the only one to suggest it and I wont be the last either. But the reason why I put it on the table initially was that the original review into the upper North Island ports has two parts. Part One which Council has released was looking at the current operations of the ports and what they are likely in for in the next 30 years. PART TWO which got voted down thanks the visionless Councillor Ann Hartley was designed to review and consider ALL options in POAL relocation; to measure costs and benefits if the port was to be relocated to: Clevedon, Manukau, Marsden Point, or Tauranga.

      Part Two needs to be reopened again and undertaken in the POAL review study so we can get the experts opinions on ALL options!

  • Gary Bennett

    The simple answer is no we do not need a downtown port and there are many good reasons to move it; including it would have a profound change on the transport structure. Isn’t the third rail line planned in the transport budget from Westfield to Britomart largely revolves around freight going to/from the port in Auckland; so that money could be added to the budget for a move as well?

    On another post the other day I mention using San Francisco as an example for Auckland planning and this would be another reason why; just look at what they have done with their abandoned port areas as far as public use.

    The harder question is where do you relocate too? As far as positions I think you have picked the best place possible place around Auckland, but isn’t the Manukau an extremely costly prospect to maintain as far as dredging goes due to large currents moving materials around constantly?

  • Adam W

    This is the most interesting piece I have seen on the whole Port Issue, it was the detail on the financial benefits which was well done. This really makes me think it should be moved – it would be very visionary so I am not holding my breath as Auckland does not do visionary very well.
    Auckland does need to keep it within the Council area because it is a good income for Auckland Council, and the more income it has, the less it needs to get from our rates.
    If the Government can get behind moving the ferry terminal at the top of the South Island to save an hour of travel time, these figures you have estimated make this seem far more important.

  • Bbc

    Not forgetting the port is also pushing for the grafton gully motorway to be extended down to them at a cost of several billion dollars – money better spent on improving Auckland not further strangling it in motorways.

  • I’m not so sure that Marsden could be a realistic alternative unless you brought it to an inland port somewhere around Kumeu or even the developing Westgate area with the intention of it serve the North and West. We see the problems already from having so many freight trains on the southern line and that is why hundreds of millions are being/proposed to be spent on adding a third main down there. We simply can’t add a third main cheaply to the western line, e.g. imagine how much it would cost just to do New Lynn again. With the CRL we are likely to be running 5 minute frequencies out west and put simply there is no space for freight trains except for the middle of the night.

    I do think it is time we started making some visionary decisions and moving the port would be one of those. As you say, the area makes a perfect place for expansion after we have finished with Wynyard and around the CRL stations. I don’t think we would necessarily need to divert the eastern line though, A station at the Strand would only be about 800m from the end of Fergusson Wharf plus gives good coverage to the northern end of Parnell.

    • Matt you answer your own question: an inland port for Marsden on the northern edge would be a good part of the process.

      Nick I can’t see Manukau Harbour being viable, the dredging would have to be constant, expensive, and environmentally prohibitive.

      We certainly should have a national ports strategy rather than the simplistic private company model which seems only to suit the international shippers.

      • Yes but what I’m saying is you wouldn’t be able to bring any of the goods from Northland through Auckland by train. Would be ok if all of the goods were only going to the North/West but if you needed to get them to the southern industrial areas then trucks would be needed because there are no freight paths available during the day.

        • Sailor Boy

          Would Avondale Southdown not thelp here? Plus I assume that we can add a 3rd and 4th main out west on another alignment?

        • Nic

          What is the worth of the land that the port currently occupies? Would that not offset the additional rail construction and the expansion of Marsden or similar?

          Interestingly, Singapore are going to move their port, one of the busiest in the world, freeing up a substantial amount of central city land. The lease expires in the next few years, but they have already constructed a new underground MRT line (the Circle line) that forms a complete circle, only broken by the port land. When the lease goes, they will be able to connect up both ends, providing transport links through the area.

          • Somewhere between $1.4 and $5.8 billion dollars by my estimate.

            Singapore are only planning on relocating a relatively tiny part of their massive port complex, albeit many times the size of our port alone. The downtown docks have been superceeded by huge reclamations to the west many years ago.

  • obi

    The trend overseas (London, Sydney, etc) is for inner-city ports to move to locations where the land isn’t some of the most expensive in the country. We’re storing containers right on the edge of the CBD where we should be building some of the best offices and apartments in the city and that is just mad. There is no need to relocate to another site in the city… Tauranga and Whangarei have the requirement covered, and Whangarei also delivers some regional development benefits.

    NBR (http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/wr-opening-salvo-auckland%E2%80%99s-container-port-must-go-108818) looked at the land value issue last year. In order to produce an acceptable book rate of return, the port company undervalues the land it is sitting on. If you apply a reasonable land value then the real rate of return is just over one percent. That is a pretty poor investment for the Council, and rif the port were closed and the land sold then the money could be used for other things with a better return. Like a rail tunnel.

    Lastly, I’m not sure what the Navy is doing based on some of the best harbour-side land in Devonport. Why not move them to Whangarei or Tauranga as well? Build that area in apartments and give them quick and easy access to the CBD via a second ferry with a terminal where the Navy is now.

    • I agree about the navy, especially given that position in front of the cliffs. You could fill that with six or eight stories (like the north shore of Sydney) and not block any existing views. There is already a ferry service right there at Stanley Bay that could be upgraded.

      I heard of one suggestion that we could move the naval base to Picton, in the event the inter islander terminal were moved to Clifford Bay. That would save the Picton economy while utilising much of the ship infrastructure there that would otherwise be wasted.

      Another thing with moving the port to the Manukau, it would render the port of Onehunga totally obsolete. That would be another, smaller, waterfront site to develop.

      • obi

        I didn’t realise there was an existing ferry… thanks. There is also the munitions depot in Birkenhead. I don’t think storing explosives is an appropriate activity for a waterfront site in modern Auckland. You could either build on the depot, or turn it in to reserve since it is already surrounded by an existing reserve that serves as a buffer to protect the neighbours from unplanned detonation. There is a similar old (RAAF?) munitions area in Darwin that was turned in to a national park. There are mangroves and bush, but you can also explore the bunkers.

    • Dave Smith

      NorthPort does have something like 185 hectares for industrial use which is pretty reasonable. The Marsden City development nearby should also be a catalyst for taking some of the pressure off Auckland http://marsdencity.co.nz/. Think the original cost of spur freight line improvements there was around $300m which in the scheme of things seems pretty reasonable.

  • David O

    I’m an outlier on this one, I realise, but I like having the port in the city. Moving it to Tauranga is a nutty idea – something like 60%+ of the material imported through the existing port never make it south of the Bombay Hills because Auckland is where most of the market for those goods lives. A more local move might make sense, but none of the options are easy ones, and all will involve significant reorganisation of transport infrastructure.

    • I struggle to see a new site either in the Manukau or on the lovely Clevedon coast working. And instead of getting rid of it isn’t a better option to scale it back and using the two regional ports more. Foe example not expanding AK to take the new bigger cargo ships [and all the dredging of the gulf required] but instead focussing that investment in Tauranga?

      A policy all those who what more regional development should support…?

      • David O

        Inclined to agree – building the new capacity at Tauranga and upgrading the necessary infrastructure makes sense. But, requires a national port strategy. Won’t happen under the competitive model, which will dictates that Auckland and Tauranga compete with one another for the business. Almost inevitably one of them will end up wasting a heap of money building infrastructure that their business won’t subsequently justify.

      • Sailor Boy

        I agree, just slowly push the Western boundary further and further back into the water. Inland ports in South and NW auckland, improved trains etc, etc.

    • Peter

      Although Auckland receives the most imports, NZ’s largest port for exports is Tauranga. So spreading port activities between Marsden and Tauranga could be a good idea.

  • JayDee

    After the Western motorway tunnel the CRL tunnel how about a dedicated rail tunnel from Auckland Port to the inland port area.Two to four tracks freight only for all freight trains going from the port, south?

  • JeffT

    I think there should be a port in Auckland but it should be based on the eastern terminals, not in the central downtown area it is currently. Looking at the photo there’s already port development on the eastern side. Relocate it all there so we get the central harbour area back for the kind of development that should be there.

    I agree about the navy although I would like to know what their current contribution is to the local economy before relocating.

  • Luke C

    I would be interested to know how much they have looked at making much more efficient use of the land they have by shifting activites off port. For example they are several large container packing sheds right by Quay St. There is no reason at they should be here, and should be shifted to the inland port at Wiri or similar. In a related vein much more use should be made of Wiri inland port, with containers stored there until just before they are needed. Maybe another couple of these would be good, say at Onehunga, and Drury. Another important note is much of the extra land, and container growth is transshipment volumes, where containers loaded off one ship (say coming from Otago) and swapped to another ship bound for says China. There is almost no economic benefit to this at all to the wider Auckland region, apart from a minor profit for the ports company. Auckland should certainly not become the transshipment port. Also potentially all non container freight should be kicked out, with cars going to Marsden or Tauranga Very recently (last few months) POAL as even been in the business of exporting iron sand, and importing coal. These explain the large number of dump trucks currently causing trouble on Beach Road. This traffic is totally bizzare for an inner CBD port.

    • Yes exactly, Luke, and that’s why we need a national Ports Strategy, not the duplication and race to the bottom of the market only model.

      • Stu Donovan

        Hmm .. the classical liberal economist in me suspects that we would have seen much more cooperation between ports if they weren’t so bound up with regional authorities and more exposed to the ebbs and flows of market forces. I may be wrong but was not the proposed merger between PoA and PoT scuppered by the ARC, which was worried that jobs would shift south in response to Tauranga’s cost-competitiveness?

  • MFD

    “POAL has even been in the business of exporting iron sand, and importing coal. These explain the large number of dump trucks currently causing trouble on Beach Road. This traffic is totally bizzare for an inner CBD port.”

    Expect to see a lot more of this sort of traffic. The advent of heavier and longer trucks will take more and more business off the rails and onto roads. There is rail for all but the last couple of hundred metres of that journey. A significant part of the journey is on local roads funded largely by ratepayers. it’s all about increased productivity for truck operators.

  • Stu Donovan

    I’m open to the idea and agree that Puhinui makes a lot of socio-economic sense, although I would be concerned about potential environmental effects associated with dredging in such tidal waters.

    Perhaps the best option is to first consolidate port functions to the east (aka option 2) but use the time that buys us to seriously investigate options and costs of re-locating the port? Would be good to firm up some of the numbers around the benefits and costs.

  • Why, after years of cleaning the Manukau up, we would want to potentially reverse that is beyond me and the East Auckland locations would lead to huge environmental impacts. I would say no to any further reclaimation of the current POAL site as the tidal flows created are already bad enough. To me, including the ability of freight to move along the North Shore rail line and then join the NAL out Kaipara Flats way would create a much quicker freight corridor to Port Marsden and a commuter line to Wellsford, Whangarei etc. Rather than a super port, spread the load.

    • An inland port up Silverdale or Albany way wouldn’t go amiss either.

      • Sailor Boy

        Not much industrial land up here to take demand tbh.

        Would be better to have a massive one at Massey and then truck goods up to the shore on our shiny new motorway (for the mean time anyway).

    • Surely neither Manukau nor Kaipara Harbours are appropriate as either would require huge and repeated dredging, especially to accommodate the new bigger vessels. If growth was managed between the three existing Upper North Island ports Auckland could use less space especially for low value activities like storing cars.

      Marsden Pt is a natural deep water port, and makes for shorter sailing times.

      • Correct. Both are unsuitable as high volume ports without significant environmental damage. The Kaipara Flats comment was referring to a more suitable alignment for the North Auckland Line leading to Port Marsden.

  • Richard Horner

    Years ago there was a plan to move the port to Te Atatu when it was still rural and this plus Chelsea and Kauri Point were the reasons the Harbour Bridge was built with the clearance it has. Shipping has changed dramatically though and the container ships of today are a different ball game. Few cities overseas still have their ports in the central city , they moved out when containers arrived.

    Auckland must accept the port is limited and downsize it using Tauranga and Marsden as the major ports. As suggested, why not build a new realigned railway to Kaipara Flats? It would be cheaper than the Holiday Highway and frankly more functional most of the year. The south line should not be overloaded, with the upgraded commuter services most of it should now be four tracked with a slow (stopping) line and an express line.

  • Here are some online charts of the Manukau and Waitemata harbours, it seems the Manukau has a natural channel of sorts leading to the airport area, it might be improved upon without much impact?
    http://charts.linz.govt.nz/tifs/nz4314.tif
    http://charts.linz.govt.nz/tifs/nz5323.tif

    • Sailor Boy

      Thatis a huge surprise.

      That channel is quite deep, would need some MAJOR dredging for width, but maybe the mud is stable enough to support it.

      If it could be done with less impact then it should, BUT You are going to have huge issues getting over the bar of the Manukau, there are regularly 10 metre breaking waves, huge currents and shallow spots down to 5m depths. The sand moves daily and it cannot be guaranteed that it is possible to get a 500m 10m depth vessel out of the harbour in a wekk let alone when they want to go…….

    • San Luca

      New port at the Airport it is then!

  • Sailor Boy

    What about Port Waikato as a sight for a new AucklandPort?

    • San Luca

      Port Waikato is, as the name suggests, not in Auckland

      • Sailor Boy

        Rookie error.
        Port Waikato is in Auckland, well the water is anyway.
        It is only about 20 kilometres from Pukekohe.

      • Steve D

        Why does that matter? Pre-supercity, Auckland Council owned a larger chunk of Auckland International Airport than Manukau, the city the airport was in. San Francisco owns 100% of the airport named after it, which isn’t within the city at all.

        • San Luca

          I guess if it is outside of Auckland itself, why not just go for Tauranga or Marsden Point. The sandbar is much worse at Port Waikato than the Manukau Harbour

  • MrV

    Well it takes 20yrs to move a port, so Auckland better pull finger. Not something it is known for doing, so I won’t be holding my breath. Again all the auckland nimbies will come out of the woodwork to ensure it is nowhere near them. Rinse and repeat.

  • Moving the Port is a bad idea. Bad on every level. Luckily they won’t. One slight question though Nick-

    You say “(Wynyard is limited to low and mid rise development for urban design reasons)”.

    Do you really consider 52m high buildings are low and mid-rise?

    • Hamish O

      I can’t speak for Nick, but I do in the context of a CBD.

    • Geoff.

      “Moving the Port is a bad idea. Bad on every level.”
      -I may agree, but what are your reasons for this view?

      “Do you really consider 52m high buildings are low and mid-rise?”
      -In a city centre; absolutely.

    • Yes, 52m is mid rise. And there are only four small sites identified with that maximum height. Almost all of the Wynyard development is limited to 31m (in the central core) or 27-21m near the edges. thats ten, eight and six stories respectively. The eastern seaward side is limited to four stories. Absolutely mid rise. If you want high rise, lets talk 20+ stories.

      With a redeveloped port area buildings over 200m tall would be appropriate for Quay St from an urban design perspective.

      Also why do you think moving the port is a bad idea, bad on every level. It would be helpful if you outlined your reasoning!

      • Thanks Nick, my rationale is that the Port is just fine where it is. Option 2 seems like a fine compromise; POAL keeps banging on about how super efficient they are- fantastic, prove it by being way more productive on a not very big extension. The benefit for US is Cap’n Cook wharf. Join that to Queens Wharf and get that huge public space by the water we’ve always wanted?

        If the POAL site were available for development it would be Scene Apartments Blocks 4-70 in there before you could sneeze. Look how thoroughly the back of Wynyard ASB toilet tower blocks the harbour from the city. Add the new hotel, add a Fonterra office or two- wall complete. Kick out the PT, bang in the underground parking- Corporate Heaven.

        IMHO having the Ports there is protecting that area from a privatised dystopia.

        • I find it curious that your keen on public space by the water, and not blocking the city from the sea, yet you think a container port downtown is just fine where it is. Wouldn’t it be better to have public space and city out on the water instead?

          Personally I don’t want a huge public space by the water, I think Queens Wharf is to large a space in itself. I’d prefer the city had a more nuanced connection with the water, with smaller, more frequent and more intimate links between city and sea. For much the same reason I think Aotea Square is basically a failure, while Freyburg Place, St Patricks Square, Khartoum Place and Elliot St are a triumph.

          Likewise I expect that Wynyard as a whole will work out very well, I do spend a lot of time down there and I don’t feel the same way about the ASB building blocking the harbour from the city. I’ve not felt that disconnect, and if anything it brings the city to the harbour. What exactly has been blocked? I agree on the Scene buildings, they killed off a great sightline down Anzac Ave and from parts of Beach Rd. What does the ASB building block, the roof of the fishmarket? What would towers along Quay St block, the view from the rail yards to the port, from inside the Vector arena to the water? (yes I’m being facetious there).

          In fact my guess is that the large headland park will prove to be something of a failure, as a excessively large open space on the remote tip of the precinct. At the same time I think Aucklanders will lament the loss of the Silo Park along from Jellicoe St ,with it’s smaller space enclosed by city fabric and it’s subtle connections with the water, when it is replaced with the headland park.

          I guess we just have different views on what those former port spaces will and could be like… Why would it have to be a privatised distopia? Why underground parking when it is right next to the rail line, the ferries, buses and on one proposed route for a waterfront tram. Not to mention a potentially very walkable and cycleable location. Why can’t it be a Waterfront Auckland lead project that might just get us a more efficient port somewhere else, while allowing a fantastic extension of the CBD and making the council a billion or two to invest in transport or urban development somewhere else?

        • Sailor Boy

          Also Geoff, if it happens post unitary plan then the design controls will be A LOT stricter.

          • True- but in a good way or a bad way? The current lot- urban Design Panel et al, will be signing off on all the upcoming stuff, with the bonus (for them) of it being compulsory for developments above a certain size.

            They haven’t done a good job so far, the cynic in me sees that continuing until residents get an actual say in what happens in their neighbourhood.

    • Brendan

      On every level? It doesn’t sound like a bad idea on the environmental level.

      Removing the major shipping lane going through the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park (http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/conservation/marine-and-coastal/marine-protected-areas/hgmp-large.jpg) might prevent more whales getting killed by ships (like this one http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/7954697/Tests-show-whale-was-killed-by-ship).

  • Duncan

    Would be nice if we could make a Suez Canal type thing between the Waitamata and Manukau, could have ships go down to ground level or have a bridge across then could expand Manukau Harbour into a massive port, also say vessels coming from South America could cut through there for increasing revenue ?
    Massive pipe dream and wouldn’t know where to start with it, I don’t even know if there would actually be a point where we could even do it haha.

    • Steve D

      Years ago there was a designation (or whatever they used to be called) for a canal through Otahuhu from Mangere to the Tamaki river, which would have connected the harbours with a lot of dredging.

  • Peter H

    I remember seeing drawings of canal between harbours in Avondale area, and lets put canal between Manukau Harbour and Waikato river.
    http://www.bureauvoorlichtingbinnenvaart.nl/inland-navigation-promotion/basic-knowledge/waterways

  • I think the ship has sailed on our canals, so to speak. To be useful for modern container ships either the west or south routes would require some serious dredging and a very wide canal structure, not to mention completely rebuilding all the motorway and rail crossings.

  • But the north of the north Island could suceed!

  • Brian D

    I understand the worlds major shipping companies are asking New Zealand Inc to nominate a single port for international shipping. This has major implications for inter-New Zealand shipping as a large volume of containers are currently moved by international ships. This would have to be taken up by New Zealand companies using road, rail or ship. This could re-vitalise Onehunga as a small inter-New Zealand port as the shipping distances to other parts of New Zealand are less than from Auckland.
    From an international perspective, Marsden Point is the shortest shipping route to Asia and North America but probably has the biggest impact on inter shipping (rail or ship from Northland). Perhaps a comprimise is to nominate two New Zealand ports. It is likely that New Zealand Inc would need to take the lead in this initiative. Food for thought.

  • Tauranga has some ownership of Marsden, and has the jump on Auckland in terms of preparing for larger vessels. The logical thing is for these two to be our international hubs with Ak downsizing as a distribution port, including using Onehunga more….?

  • Bob Scott

    Marsden Point makes a good deal of sense, to bring much needed jobs to the area, but it would have to be in conjunction with the rail link being built from the existing Noth Auckland line at Oakleigh. The prospect of YET MORE trucks on the roads in Northland is terrifying. The danger is that this government and the road lobby would see that as an opportunity to build a six lane highway from Whangarei to Tauranga and to allow even bigger trucks on the roads.

  • Mr Plod

    Hi Team,

    Sorry I’m late posting to this as I’m only just catching up with a backlog of blog feeds and as this post has created a wonderful outpouring of passion I really must contribute.

    My thoughts; The end of PofA as a BIG working port is going to happen and provided the unions & management of POAL continue to behave the way they have been it will happen sooner because the smart foreign shipping coys will move to TGA. Also the smart team running PoT are now also part owners in WHG so expect to see that port upping its game and pressure coming on the govt to upgrade the rail. PoT are doing a wonderful job with trains to SouthPort and probably doing wonders on the Kaimai tunnel payback so don’t get too hung up on the trucking risk. Buy up some land just south Kumeu and lay down a railyard & freight hub; logs from Riverhead & Woodhill north to WHG, consumer goods south for redistribution.
    Auckland is going to be cut out of the next size of ships anyway. TGA has beaten them to the punch having worked through the consent process and are starting to dredge this year. POAL haven’t even lodged a consent and it will take years to get through. By the time they’ve done it the business will have gone and they will be only be able to capture the low value sand & coal cargo which is already happening.
    But really, we need a proper National intergrated freight strategy that ties together ports, trains & trucks. Ignore the people transport, they’ll use whatever someone else pays for. Regrettably that wont happen either so I’m putting my faith (& money) in the Board & Management of PoT in running a pincer movement on POAL out of TGA and WHG – All power to them, I suggest you buy shares.

    Cheers & have a lovely evening.

  • San Luca

    What about Kaipara harbour? Supposedly the second biggest harbour in the world:
    http://www.smartmarine.co.nz/images/products/xlarge/nz4265.jpg

    • The bar/depth/tidal situation looks worse than the Manukau.

      Helensville area might be a reasonable site from the landside perspective, the rail line is right there with reasonable highway links to SH16 and 1. You’d probably see the motorway right up to Helensville in that case, and an upgraded Flat road.

      Still an issue of all the freight going crosstown all the time.

      • Yes that’s the problem, just where we need the trucks off the road, there isn’t an obvious way to run the trains through all the increased passenger traffic. Depot out of town on the northwest then running through the night to southern destinations?

        • That’s why I favour a solution in South Auckland, close to industry and close to rail and road links. The Puhinui Reserve site would be perfect if not for actually getting the ships to it!

          • I think local Maori fought long and hard for that reserve, from memory, do you know it’s status?

          • I don’t myself, but it has the appearance of a pretty significant ecological reserve so there would be all sorts of issues.

            However that big green area isn’t just a reserve, it’s also a motorsports park and a quarry according to the GIS viewer, and at around 3.5 million m2 it’s maybe two or three times the area needed for a jumbo port. The part north of the reserve proper and back to Puhinui Rd and the Motorway is also about 3 million m2, not sure how the waterside access would be up in behind the little island off the airport runway though.

            Here’s a though, perhaps a fully reclaimed artificial island south of the airport like Brisbane has? Use the spoils of dredging to build up the shallows, too megaproject? Or Maybe just further reclaimation south of the main airport runway and a road and rail bridge heading east? Or off the end of Ihumato?

  • Mr Plod

    Nick, I love your enthusiasm for Puhinui but it’s just not a goer. The Manukau bar is just too tough an obstacle for modern container ships. Doable in for the smaller coastal shipping but a non starter for bigger ships. The same applies to the Kaipara Harbour. The dredging PoT is doing will allow ships up to 8,200 TEUS (20′ container equivalents). Current the biggest ships in there are around 4,500 TEUs and the same probably applies to POAL. I am an enthusiast for ramping down the POA over time – eventually leaving it with only car carriers, maybe. However that’s a huge ask with POA still the largest port for imports in NZ. Refer to page 46 of this; http://www.shipperscouncil.co.nz/documents/The_Question_of_Bigger_Ships.pdf and although it’s a 2008 report, you’ll see the size of the ask in terms of removing POAL from NZ’s import/export infrastructure. It’s a big ship to move and this blog is just a small tug boat by comparison so we need to keep pushing hard and eventually opinions will turn. cheers

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