Ports of Auckland, Napier Port and cold storage specialist Icepak have formed a joint venture to develop a new $20 million inland port and freight hub at Longburn, near Palmerston North, the companies said.
The port will occupy the old Longburn freezing works owned by Icepak, and the venture will see the 9 hectare site transformed into a intermodal logistics and manufacturing hub, they said.
The site is being cleared and work will start soon on a dock to complement the existing Icepak cold store on site.
A container yard and container wash facility - to prepare containers to export-ready standard - will also be built, forming the first stage of the development.
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The site is connected to the main trunk line and the parties are in talks with KiwiRail to finalise services.
"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," Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said.
As it stands, imports come south from Auckland but not much goes back. Gibson said the new facility would allow exporters to access spare capacity and to lower freight costs.
Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie said the development was a natural extension of Napier Port's central New Zealand coverage.
Icepak is a family-owned storage and logistics business aimed at primary producers and manufacturers specialising in dairy, horticulture, pet food, edible meats, fish, pharmaceuticals, retail storage and distribution.