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The primary purpose of this study is to identify whether a large-scale port could be located in the Manukau Harbour, not whether it should move to the Manukau Harbour.

Earlier studies identified that the current Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) freight operation in the Waitematā Harbour is likely to run out of capacity to cater for Auckland’s long-term freight needs. Some critics of the CBD location suggest that the land could be repurposed for better uses, including for tourism, accommodation and commuter transport, as opposed for storage of containers, cars and other bulk commodities. However, the issue of moving to Manukau is very divisive – many believe the Harbour is too shallow and that the tidal Bar makes it inoperable for large container vessels. Weather and sea conditions experienced on the West Coast of New Zealand are also challenging.

Despite these challenges, the Manukau Harbour was identified as one of two highest ranking potential new locations to replace the current POAL as part of the Port Future Study in 2015 the other being Firth of Thames). It was also the highest ranked alternative option following the work undertaken by Sapere in 2020. The suggested sites within the Manukau Harbour are in the Central Manukau Harbour, Puhinui and Hikihiki.

The Sapere study found that Manukau Harbour’s proximity to the existing industrial area and distribution centres of South Auckland and to road and rail networks would make it cheaper to build and result in lower transport emissions (due to proximity to end market) than other options. However, there is a view the harbour is too shallow and that the tidal bar makes it inoperable for large container vessels. Weather and sea conditions experienced on the west coast of New Zealand are also challenging.

The Sapere report recommended that this issue be investigated further and more detailed engineering assessments covering geology, hydrodynamics, sediment transport and operational reliability were needed before the feasibility of a Manukau port could be definitively confirmed. These are the sorts of areas that we want to investigate further with this study.

We anticipate the feasibility study to take around 12 months to complete and intend on engaging with a range of stakeholders to inform this work.

The work to date


Manukau Harbour Feasibility Study

Aug 2022

Request for proposal opens

We are inviting providers to submit a proposal for the Manukau Harbour port technical feasibility study contract via GETS.

More information and related documents
Feb 2023

Tonkin & Taylor to undertake technical feasibility study

After running a tender process on the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS), the Ministry of Transport is pleased to appoint the engineering firm Tonkin & Taylor to undertake the technical feasibility study. Tonkin & Taylor is leading a wider consortium consisting of Royal HaskoningDHV, MetOcean Solutions, Pacific Marine Management Ltd and the University of Auckland. The study is expected to be complete in 12 months.