Ports of Auckland (POAL), the successor to the Auckland Harbour Board, is the company administering Auckland's commercial freight and cruise ship harbour facilities. As the company controls all of the associated facilities in the Greater Auckland area (excluding the ferry terminals and local marinas for recreational yachting), this article is about both the current company and the ports of Auckland themselves.
Wharves (from west to east) are:
POAL recently (2006) bought three large new container cranes from Zhenhua Port Machinery Company, China for NZ$ 27 million, now installed at the Axis Intermodal Terminal at Fergusson wharf, where they join two older cranes bought in 2001. The new cranes are the largest in New Zealand, weighing 1,250 tonnes each. Standing 103 m high with a 56 m boom length, they are capable of lifting two 20-foot containers at once, with speeds of up to 150 m per minute. They were bought to provide the necessary lifting capacity and reach for Post-Panamax ships. Their diesel-electric generators are also configured to provide emergency power to refrigeration containers in case of power failure.
Another major import are used cars, with approximately 166,000 landed per year. The cars are mainly relatively new Japanese models, due to the very strict technical requirements of the Japanese road authorities. Due to the very strict biosecurity regulations administered by the MAF, cars (and many other goods) have to pass through a decontamination facility, which strongly increases turnover times.
So far, the largest ship to visit was the Queen Mary 2 in early 2007, which had to be diverted to Jellicoe Wharf in the freight part of the port due to its size. However, the largest one-day turnover came in February 2007, when the Statendam and the Sapphire Princess were due in Auckland to exchange around 8,000 people at the terminal, the equivalent of 19 Boeing 747 jumbo jets.
Auckland's trade, by virtue of being the (now) largest city of an island colony nation, has to a large degree always depended on its harbours. Starting from the original wharves in Commercial Bay in the 1840s, and expanding via the land reclamation schemes that transformed the whole of the Auckland waterfront throughout the 19th and 20th centuries (and still continue today, especially at Fergusson Wharf), the port became the largest of New Zealand (and has been since at least 1924, incidentally the same year the Port of Onehunga was opened).
The initial establishment of the harbour facilities in Commercial Bay and Official Bay suffered from the tidal mudflats that made establishing good wharves difficult. After control of the Waitemata Harbour passed to the Auckland Provincial Council in 1853, the Council did much work on improving the facilities, which included constructing the first Queen Street Wharf, building a quay along Customs Street and a breakwater at Point Britomart.
After the Auckland Harbour Board was established in 1871 by the Council, further wharves were added and massive reclamation works were undertaken, eventually making Freemans Bay and Mechanics Bay lose their natural shoreline, while Commercial Bay (today the site of much of the Auckland CBD and the Auckland waterfront) was totally lost to history. The newly reclaimed land allowed the construction of a railway wharf and new dockyard facilities. New facilities were also built on the other side of the harbour, at Devonport, with the 'Calliope Dock' being the largest drydock in the southern hemisphere in 1888.
By the early 20th Century, commercial and passenger traffic was already very busy, with large passenger liners from Europe and the USA arriving regularly. Though the Second World War collapsed the nascent tourist trade, the US entering the war in 1941 led to it basing a part of its fleet operations in Auckland, necessitating further expansion of the harbour facilities. In 1943 alone, 104 warships and 284 transports visited Auckland. During this time, 24/7 operations began.
After the war, the expansion continued, with the Import and Freyberg Wharves opening in 1961, as well as the creation of the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Princess Wharf. During the late 1960s, the massive, deep-draught Fergusson Wharf was established to serve the beginning container trade. While finished in 1971, it took until 1973 for the first container vessel to arrive, though the general container trend was not to avoid the port.
In 1988 the Auckland Harbour Board and operations of the port were corporatised handed over to a newly formed company, Ports of Auckland, by Act of Parliament. The change in management increased productivity, but also led to substantial cuts in the directly employed workforce. Around 20% of the shares were initially floated to the public when Environment Waikato sold its stake, but Auckland Regional Holdings later repurchased all those shares from minority interests and in 2005 gained full ownership for the Auckland Regional Council.
Now being the third largest container terminal in Australasia, as well as New Zealand's busiest port, little remains in terms of the original facilities. Even so, Ports of Auckland is still expanding and changing at a relatively quick pace, with further reclamation worked planned to shift harbour operations further east, in connection with future needs as well as the plans for a more accessible Auckland waterfront (see linked article).
In 2007, with a big increase in shipping traffic being projected (due to the Maersk shipping line choosing Auckland as a hub for the Fonterra export traffic), POAL considered a merger with Port of Tauranga, which however did not come to pass. In the same year, volumes at the port rose 12.6% while profits, after deducting one-time items and property investments unrelated to the port operation, remained similar to 2006 (then NZ$ 55.9 million).
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