Napier Port Chief Executive Todd Dawson says the new cargo record is a reflection of the strength of the Hawke’s Bay economy and the success of the region’s businesses.
“We saw an extraordinary amount of cargo come through Napier Port the previous financial year as a result of earthquake damage to Wellington’s port. To not only match that figure this year, but to beat it by more than 320,000 tonnes, really shows the pace of growth in Hawke’s Bay.”
“Logs were the standout performer this year, with exports up 35% on last year, and they’ll continue to climb over the next decade.”
It’s not just growth in cargo, with the port also handling larger ships and a growing cruise industry. A total of 684 ships called at Napier this year, including 57 cruise ships. Cruise tourism in the region is flourishing, with a record 103,000 passengers visiting Napier shores in the 2017-2018 cruise season. Figures from Statistics New Zealand figures show those cruise passengers spent $23 million on credit cards alone.
This year saw the first ships capable of carrying over 5,500 TEU containers arrive at Napier Port, one of which departed with a record depth of 12.2 metres.
“One of the challenges we have ahead of us is how we deal with congestion on the water,” Mr Dawson says. “With larger ships now calling at Napier, we frequently need to move other ships off the wharf and out to anchor in order to get larger ships into the port.”
In November, Napier Port was granted resource consent to build a sixth wharf, which will service the container terminal and free up other wharves for the growing log and general cargo trade. It will also allow the cruise ships Napier Port currently turns away to visit the region and mean the port can accommodate larger vessels that are too big for its current facilities.
Mr Dawson counts gaining resource consent for the development as one of the highlights of the year.
“The decision gives importers, exporters, shipping lines and the tourism industry certainty that Napier Port will be able to meet their needs well into the future. We’re looking forward to getting to work on the project soon.”
The port also generated strong financial results this year, delivering a $10 million dividend to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company. Mr Dawson says the $17.6 million after-tax profit is a record, but one that is tempered by the major investments ahead.
“We have a major investment programme ahead of us, with the build of a new wharf and the associated investment in dredging, along with the people and equipment needed to run that wharf efficiently.
“How that development is funded and what that could mean for the future ownership of Napier Port has been a challenge that we, our owner, and our community have had to grapple with this year. It’s a complex issue, but an important conversation for us to have as a region.”