Ports of Auckland, Napier Port and storage and logistics group Icepak New Zealand have set up a joint venture to build an inland port and freight hub in Palmerston North.
The proposed $20 million development would transform the Longburn freezing works into an intermodal logistics and manufacturing hub, which would be connected to the main rail line, the companies said in a joint statement. Ports of Auckland said the initiative is part of a wider plan to build a cost-effective freight distribution network through the nation, and it plans to announce more developments.
"This places the port gate on the doorstep of the region's importers and exporters, creating opportunity for both and driving cost out of the supply chain," POAL chief executive Tony Gibson said. "Currently imports come south from Auckland but not much goes back."
The announcement comes more than a month after Auckland's rival Port of Tauranga announced a freight deal with the Fonterra Co-operative Group [NZX: FCG] and Silver Fern Farms-led logistics company Kotahi, which resulted in it winning a slot in Maersk's Southern Star service from Ports of Auckland.
Icepak already owns the brownfield Longburn site, and will start work to link it with an existing cold store it owns on site.
"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," Icepak chairman Wayne Grattan said. "Development of the hub enables the clean-up and reuse of a brownfield industrial site, with extensive recycling of the old building materials into the new development."
The joint venture is in talks with KiwiRail to finalise the state-owned rail operator's services.