Ports of Auckland has signed a conditional agreement to purchase land in Waikato for development as a major inland freight hub.

The 33ha development, located at Northgate Business Park, 8km north of Hamilton, is in a growing area for manufacturing, warehousing and logistics businesses.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said Waikato was one of New Zealand's fastest growing areas and it would be established as a major inland freight hub.

"Establishing a Waikato freight hub will improve access to overseas markets for Waikato-based exporters and will reduce exporters' costs because of the supply chain efficiencies we will be able to achieve," he said.


Within a number of years, the port would establish road and rail connections.

"Rail forms a key part of our supply-chain strategy. The Northgate site was chosen because it is beside the North Island Main Trunk line, with a direct link to our other freight hubs and our Waitemata seaport. The site is also located close to State Highway 1."

Mr Gibson said the key to the freight hub network was that it could be used to balance freight flows and eliminate unnecessary movement of empty containers.

"By driving out waste from the supply chain we can lower the cost to importers and exporters," he said.

The development would adopt strong environmental principles, such as storm water treatment, rain water recycling and low energy use, Mr Gibson said.

Waikato district mayor Allan Sanson welcomed the development saying the growing area was an "economic power-house".

"Waikato is now the fourth-largest regional economy in New Zealand and we're growing fast.

"Our location in the golden triangle between Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga, and our commitment to encouraging and assisting investment means the Waikato district has built a reputation as the go-to place for investors," Mr Sanson said.

Mr Sanson said the freight hub would be a catalyst for high-quality job opportunities for Waikato locals.

" ... those benefits will flow directly into our communities," he said.

"That's what we want - growth that has a direct payback for our district with the ability to stimulate further economic activity."

Ports of Auckland is in the process of discussing the conditions attached to the sale and would aim to complete the deal by March 31.