New Zealand’s Port Otago is the latest to join the race to become one of three or four big ports capable of handling container ships larger than 4,500 teu in the country. Port Otago’s NZD30 million (USD21.93 million) capital dredging programme includes dredging the shipping channel and the container berths.
Otago is already New Zealand’s deepest container port with a 13 m draught. Dredging to deepen the draught to 13.5 m has started with completion due in December.
The infrastructural works programme, dubbed ‘Next Generation Port Otago’, will allow larger ships to access Port Chalmers while bolstering the port’s services to exporters.
The capital works programme includes deepening of the shipping channel to 14 m by end-2016, deepening the berths and sheet piling to support the wharf, and warehouse expansion at both Port Chalmers and Sawyers Bay.
Port Otago follows Port of Tauranga, which will soon start dredging to accommodate container ships bigger than 6,500 teu. Maersk hopes to introduce such ships to Tauranga at the end of 2016.
Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest port, followed by Tauranga, Lyttelton, Napier, Otago, and Wellington. A recent report by the Ministry of Transport shows its preferred future hub port option involves Auckland, Tauranga, Lyttelton, and Otago.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket says the port is determined to be in that line-up. “To maintain our relevance within the international supply chain requires continued development, ensuring that we can cater for larger container ships of the order of 6,000-8,000 teu and that there is enough cargo available to fill those bigger ships for decades to come.”
From 1882 when New Zealand’s first frozen meat shipment departed Port Otago, the port has retained a strong share of the meat export trade with major meat processors in its catchment.