Nestled behind industrial sites in the Waikato is a development poised to bring 300 jobs.

The multimillion-dollar Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub - between Hamilton and Ngāruawāhia -  was officially opened on Tuesday morning.


The Horotiu hub will make it easier to get products in and out of Waikato by truck or train - the 33-hectare site is beside the main trunk line and just off State Highway 1.


This drone image shows the Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub and its proximity to SH1 for road and the main trunk line for rail. The large warehouse (centre right) will be leased by Open Country Dairy.

PORTS OF AUCKLAND

This drone image shows the Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub and its proximity to SH1 for road and the main trunk line for rail. The large warehouse (centre right) will be leased by Open Country Dairy.


Open Country Dairy is the first confirmed tenant, and the company's 7000sqm warehouse was blessed by members of Tainui iwi as part of the ceremony.


Eventually, the freight hub would generate about 300 jobs, transport minister Phil Twyford said at the opening.


The Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub spans 33 hectares in Horotiu, between Hamilton and Ngāruawāhia.

MARK TAYLOR/STUFF

The Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub spans 33 hectares in Horotiu, between Hamilton and Ngāruawāhia.


"The economic and population centre of gravity is moving south into the Waikato. We need to support that movement with infrastructure like this," he said.


"The real story here is the indirect benefits: the boost to economic development not only for the Waikato but for the country, the ability to move freight efficiently, using a range of transport modes, reducing carbon emissions, and lowering freight costs."


Rail will be crucial to the success of the freight hub, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said, and sidings will be built over the coming two to three years.



MARK TAYLOR/STUFF
"The economic and population centre of gravity is moving south into the Waikato," Transport Minister Phil Twyford said.

The hub would be a catalyst for economic growth, he said, and is "perfectly positioned in the heart of New Zealand's fastest-growing area".


The 33-hectare site was a sand quarry, and was levelled out after Ports of Auckland bought it about three years ago.


On Tuesday morning, crews were pouring the first layer of concrete on the bridge which will be the main entrance.


Open Country Dairy is the first confirmed tenant of the freight hub, and will lease a 7000sqm warehouse.
MARK TAYLOR / STUFF
Open Country Dairy is the first confirmed tenant of the freight hub, and will lease a 7000sqm warehouse.

Past a collection of earthworks machinery was an open shelter - a pallet store - and the 7000sqm warehouse which Open Country Dairy will lease.


To the south is flat, open land, ready for more warehouses.


Having Ports of Auckland in the Waikato District has piqued the interest of other businesses sounding out the area, mayor Allan Sanson said.


Businesses sizing up the Waikato District have been more interested after hearing Ports of Auckland is in the area, mayor Allan Sanson said.
MARK TAYLOR/STUFF
Businesses sizing up the Waikato District have been more interested after hearing Ports of Auckland is in the area, mayor Allan Sanson said.

District council first met with Ports of Auckland when Tuakau businesses asked about a rail siding or container terminal in their town.



That didn't work out, but Horotiu was suggested when Ports of Auckland asked about other opportunities.


The freight hub site is unique because it offers the "highest level of flexibility", Ports of Auckland general manager of supply chain Reinhold Goeschl said.


Politicians from several areas were at the official opening of the Waikato Freight Hub. Pictured from left are Hamilton Mayor Andrew King, Transport Minister Phil Twyford, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson, Ports of Auckland general manager of infrastructre and property Alistair Kirk, and Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.

MARK TAYLOR/STUFF

Politicians from several areas were at the official opening of the Waikato Freight Hub. Pictured from left are Hamilton Mayor Andrew King, Transport Minister Phil Twyford, Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson, Ports of Auckland general manager of infrastructre and property Alistair Kirk, and Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson.



Businesses can lease a warehouse to suit their specifications, or a group of users in the same industry, such as retail, could share a facility.


And, because the hub is within Waikato's Northgate Business Park, a company could also build elsewhere in the park, but still have access to some of the services.


It will also reduce the need to move empty containers around, Goeschl said.

This bridge will be the main access to the Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub at Horotiu.
LIBBY WILSON/STUFF
This bridge will be the main access to the Ports of Auckland Waikato Freight Hub at Horotiu.

Currently, Hamilton companies have to get one from Tauranga, bring it back to load, then take it over again.


Dairy and forestry industries are good candidates for the Waikato freight hub, he said.


Ports of Auckland would also be encouraging distribution centres, for example in Auckland, to move part of their operations down.


Ports of Auckland has existing sites in Manawatū, the Bay of Plenty and Wiri, South Auckland.


The Waikato hub is its fourth, and largest.


- Stuff

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