Hundreds of jobs will be created in the next few years after one of two massive inland ports near Hamilton secured its first tenant.

Ports of Auckland  is building a major freight transport hub at Horotiu, just north of Hamilton city, and have done their first deal with Open Country Dairy (OCD). The business should be operating from the site within the first half of next year.

OCD are New Zealand's second largest exporter of whole milk powder.

The first building under construction at the Waikato Freight Hub. Open Country Dairy.


The first building under construction at the Waikato Freight Hub. Open Country Dairy.

The Waikato Freight Hub which sits on 33 hectares, will  have a rail connection added in the next two to three years. 

Until then, freight will travel by road to Hamilton and then by rail to Ports of Auckland's Waitematā sea port.

Ports of Auckland CEO  Tony Gibson in front of the construction of their first tenant at the Waikato Freight Hub.


Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson in front of the construction of their first tenant at the Waikato Freight Hub.

A strong freight and logistics sector is key to supporting the region's growth believes Waikato District Council Mayor Allan Sanson.

"Waikato is New Zealand's second fastest growing region after Auckland. It makes up the heart of the 'Golden Triangle' bounded by Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, and our region is a major contributor to national export earnings which continue to be dominated by our primary industries."

When fully operational  the hub is expected to provide around 300 new jobs for the region. 


The Waikato Freight Hub is at Horotiu, north of Hamilton.

"It's great for the district but it is also great the region. Obviously you look up the road four or five kilometres and you've got Hamilton, so I am under no illusion that quite a number of employees will come out of Hamilton."

Sanson believes the region can sustain two large inland ports - with work also underway on Tainui's inland port based in Ruakura.

That project will consume 485 hectares of land east of the city, from the Wairere Dr and Gordonton Rd intersection in the north, to Silverdale in the south. It will cover an area larger than the Auckland CBD.

"[Horotiu] is far more advanced and they're looking to start operations with the dry store here in the coming months. I know Tainui are working hard on finding tenants for themselves and no doubt they will do in time.

"We now have Open Country Cheese here and we have up to potentially four dairy factories being built in Pokeno.

"They all require large logistics, movement of product, so this location is ideal for that," Sanson said. 

Road safety shouldn't be a factor as, in theory, the hub should cut down the number of truck movements through to Auckland.

"At the moment I would agree that there is currently a large amount of freight that is moved by road that needs to be on rail. By putting it here it means those trucks no longer have to travel through to South Auckland to unload or even to the port. So I think having it here and centralising freight in both the Waikato and the southern half of the North Island is a major point for this port."

Port of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said that they are thrilled to have secured OCD as their first major tenant. 

"This new facility will give Waikato farmers a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to send their exports overseas, improving their competitiveness and sustainability.

"This is part of Ports of Auckland's strategy to support regional growth with freight hubs in South Auckland, Mount Maunganui, Manawatu and now Waikato. All are located next to rail and are in regions that generate significant volumes of exports that need to be efficiently transported to a major port.

- Article by Stuff


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