Fonterra freight hub could be in Hamilton
Dairy juggernaut Fonterra is eyeing Hamilton for its second $100 million-plus regional freight hub development, as recognition of the Waikato as an important future import and export axis gathers steam.
New Zealand’s biggest company was expected to have outgrown capacity at its big six-year-old $100m Crawford St stores and freight hub complex at Te Rapa within two to four years and was looking for a second site, said Fonterra director of group supply chain Joe Coote.
Fonterra was well aware of Tainui Group Holdings’ plan for a 400-plus hectare, $3 billion inland port on its land at Ruakura, he said. But there were other good sites, including the ‘‘interesting’’ Northgate industrial park land north of Te Rapa.
‘‘A lot of freight comes up from the lower North Island to Auckland and Tauranga (ports) and in my mind will continue to come up through the Waikato.’’
Mr Coote said the likely investment in the second freight hub would be ‘‘at least $100 million’’.
Fonterra is the second big company in a week to announce it is considering the Waikato for freight logistics development.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said his company was eyeing the region for an inland port. The announcement by global shipping giant Maersk that it was switching 52 ship calls to Tauranga from Auckland had sharpened the focus on the Waikato, Mr Cairns said. Transport officials predicted that by 2031 the Waikato would be the biggest generator of freight in the country.
Global logistics company Mainfreight said Hamilton was a high priority for expanding its freight facilities. The company, currently based in Te Rapa had development site irons in the fire, said managing director Don Braid.
Any future Mainfreight hub had to be served by rail. The Ruakura option was ‘‘four years away and we need something sooner’’, Mr Braid said.
Kiwirail chief executive Jim Quinn said the Ruakura proposal was an exciting idea and his company was working with interested parties.
‘‘But a lot more work is required to really understand what the potential is and how much it will be an inland port versus a freight village.’’
Tainui Group Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio said the Ruakura project was different from other companies’ freight hub plans because it was ‘‘master planned’’ for 50 to 100 years into the future. It would not be developed in a fragmented way by different parties.
DRIVING FORWARD: Fonterra is the second big company in a week to announce it is considering the Waikato for a freight development.