The inland port is essentially a facility where freight is collected and stored before being transported to ships. It also acts as a distribution point for imported freight to be distributed throughout central New Zealand.
A joint venture between Ports of Auckland, Napier Port and Icepak, the port and hub have been in planning for the last 12 months, and are the first stage of a $20 million investment into the region as the Longburn site is developed. The collaboration will provide new storage and logistics job opportunities and will help stimulate growth in regional cities and towns.
"Manawatū offers significant strategic advantages in terms of distribution thanks to our central location and excellent connections to road, rail and air, so creating an inland port here is a logical decision," says Spearhead Manawatu's Craig Nash.
"This new inland port has been in development for some time and is strongly aligned with our recently announced Central New Zealand Agribusiness Strategy, which is a collaboration between all eight local councils with the target of doubling Agribusiness exports from $1.9 billion to $3.8 billion per year by 2025. This will help our growth potential throughout central New Zealand, and we expect further investment and development activity as our capability continues to increase."
Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor welcomed the Ports of Auckland and Napier to the city. "Their decision to come to Palmerston North indicates the city is a on the radar of New Zealand's main distribution and logistics companies. We have a strong future in this sector. I am confident this will translate into more jobs and investment."
Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland, is also excited about the opportunities created by this new initiative. "There is currently a flow of imports from our port to distribution centres in Palmerston North, with underutilised freight capacity on the return leg. This new inland port allows us to capitalise on that empty freight capacity to give the region's exporters fast, efficient access to export markets."
Garth Cowie, CEO of Napier Port, sees this advanced supply chain development as "a natural extension of Napier Port's central New Zealand coverage, bringing it closer to its customers, shippers and transport partners".
Wayne Grattan, Chairman of Icepak believes that "Palmerston North is the ideal location for an intermodal freight hub. With well-developed rail and road connections to other centres, good infrastructure and plenty of space to grow and locate supporting industries, we think it's a winner. Development of the hub also enables us to clean up and reuse a brownfield industrial site."
Located on the site of the old Longburn freezing works, site clearance of the Icepak property is well underway and work will start soon on a cross dock to complement the existing cold store on site. A container yard and container wash facility - to prepare containers to export ready standard - will also be built. Palmerston North-based planners, engineers and contractors are involved in the construction programme, with completion planned for December this year.
The site is connected to the main rail trunk line and parties are currently in discussion with KiwiRail to finalise services to cater for a significant increase in the volume of rail freight.