Port of Tauranga
Review and History

The Port of Tauranga lies on the shores of North Island, New Zealand, in Tauranga Harbour off the Bay of Plenty about 196 kilometers north-northwest of the Port of Napier. New Zealand’s fifth biggest urban area, the Port of Tauranga supports the surrounding agricultural district that produces fruit (famous for its tangelos), vegetables, and livestock. It serves both cargo vessels and luxury cruise linters. In 2001, over 95 thousand people called the Port of Tauranga home, but the town is growing rapidly. An increasingly-popular tourist and retirement destination, estimates for 2008 suggest that over 110 thousand people live there today.

The region has recently acquired vineyards and wineries. The Port of Tauranga is home to oil works, cement mills, printing houses, flour mills, and boatyards. It is also home to manufacturers of pre-fabricated housing materials and clothing. The Port of Tauranga is actually located in nearby Maunganui, and it exports meat, dairy products, wool, pulp and paper, and timber.

Port History

The name for the Port of Tauranga means “a sheltered anchorage” in the Maori language. It is the biggest city in New Zealand with a native Maori name, the rest all European. The first settlers came to the Port of Tauranga from the Mataatua waka and the Takitimu in the 12th Century.

Missionaries from the Bay of Islands came to the Port of Tauranga in the 1820s to get potatoes, flax, and pigs. The flax trade was busy in the Bay of Plenty in the 1830s. Some of the traders moved in and out with their cargoes, but some stayed and married native women.

In 1828, the first European vessel, a missionary schooner, entered the harbor of the Port of Tauranga. James Farrow was the first permanent European trader, arriving in the Port of Tauranga in 1829 to get flax fiber for Australian merchants who sent gunpowder and muskets in trade. In 1838, Farrow bought a half-acre of land from the native chiefs at Otumoetai Pa, making it the earliest known land purchase in the Bay of Plenty area.

During the 1840s, a Catholic mission was constructed on land at Otumoetai Pa. However, fierce land wars in the Waikato district forced the mission to close in 1863. The land wars included the Tauranga Campaign in 1864. In 1882, the Port of Tauranga was incorporated as a borough.

In 1853, the coast and harbor of Port of Tauranga were surveyed and chartered by Captain Drury commanding the HMS Pandora. The Port of Tauranga was officially established in 1873 by order of New Zealand’s governor. The first big sailing ship to enter the harbor in 1882 was the 2.1-thousand-ton Lady Jocelyn.

The Port of Tauranga Harbour Board was established in 1912. The railway wharf was completed in 1927, although it was used for coastal shipping until the James Cook arrived in 1948 to get timber for Australia.

The first pile for the Mount Maunganui Wharf was driven in 1953, and the first ship arrived at the wharf in 1954. In 1967, the Port of Tauranga exported the first shipment of logs to Japan.

The first container was unloaded at the Port of Tauranga in 1967. In 1972, the world’s biggest refrigerated cargo vessel, the Port Caroline, called at the Port of Tauranga. The port’s first heavy-lift multi-purpose gantry crane went into operation in 1979. In 1985, the Port of Tauranga became the import/export center for New Zealand Steel.

Port of Tauranga Limited was established in 1985, and the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board was disbanded in 1988. The Tauranga Harbor Bridge, completed that same year, joined the communities of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

In 1990, the Port of Tauranga reached a milestone in handling over five million tons of cargo. The Tauranga Terminal development and wharves were opened in 1992. In 1996, a joint venture between The Cargo Company Limited and Owens Services BOP added on-wharf cargo consolidation services at the Port of Tauranga. In 1999, the Port of Tauranga began using MetroPort Auckland, the first fully-integrated inland port service, and the Australia-New Zealand Direct Line was the first shipping line to use the service.

In 2000, the Port of Tauranga entered a joint venture with Northland Port Corporation NZ to develop a new Marsden Point deep-water port. The FESCO New Zealand Express Line made the Port of Tauranga its only North Island port of call for weekly service to the Far East in 2001, and the Mediterranean Shipping Company followed suit in 2003 for its European service.

In 2004, MetroBox Auckland Limited entered a joint venture with Toll New Zealand Limited to create a new container storage, handling, service, and repair service in the Port of Tauranga. That year, MetroPort achieved significant increases in the volume of cargo through the Port of Tauranga, and plans were established to double MetroPort with the upgrade of drainage, the sealed area, and ground slots. Furthermore, the Port of Tauranga celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2004, and Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial News recognized the Port of Tauranga as a joint winner of the 2004 Australasian Port of the Year Award.

In 2005, the biggest-ever export shipment of kiwifruit was loaded on the Danish Knud Lauritzen, a load of 2.6 million trays. That year, MetroPort was expanded to include 1265 ground slots with capacity for 100 TEU trains.

In 2006, the new Maersk Line’s 4100 TEU Pendulum service began, providing New Zealand exporters with a weekly service to North America and Europe that includes trans-Tasman imports. Also in 2006, the new NZX multi-line shipping service called on the Port of Tauranga for the first time, establishing an express service between the Ports of Singapore, Lyttelton, and Tauranga.

Hamburg Sud’s new Trident service established the Port of Tauranga as its North Island port of call in 2006, delivering exports to Europe and North America’s East Coast. US Lines also made the Port of Tauranga its sole New Zealand port of call for a monthly service transporting both imports and exports between Australia, Hong Kong, south China, and Los Angeles. Also in 2006, the four-thousand-square-meter Goodman Fielder grain store was finished and received its first delivery.

Cruise ships made 2007 a record year for the Port of Tauranga when they made 33 visits to port. Hamburg Sud expanded its monthly Trident Service, bringing 104 ships per year to the Port of Tauranga, in 2007.

In 2008, the Port of Tauranga handled a record cargo volume of 13.5 million tons, with container traffic up 25% to 582.1 thousand TEUs. Another record was the import of more than 450 thousand tons of grain and palm kernel. The world’s biggest specialist reefer shipping company, Seatrade, announced the consolidation of its operations in the Port of Tauranga, and ABB Grain signed a 35-hear least with the Port of Tauranga for a new nine-thousand-square-meter purpose-built bulk facility. Cruise ships again hit an all-time high in 2008, with 40 calls at the Port of Tauranga. During 2008, CMA CGM bought US Lines and consolidated those services at the Port of Tauranga.

In 2008, the Port of Tauranga was New Zealand’s fastest-growing city, tripling in size in a quarter century. Popular with retirees and people seeking sun and surf, the city has relatively few businesses and too many retail establishments. The Port of Tauranga was recognized as a city in the early 1960s and legally incorporated as a city in 2004.

The Port of Tauranga is not just a commercial operation. The harbor is also a popular recreational and vacation destination. With a comfortable climate, rich land, and a beautiful sheltered harbor, the port has some of New Zealand’s most beautiful beaches and complete water-sports facilities and services.

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