German Leibherr 357 Luffing Crane rises on site

New time-lapse video of what will be New Zealand's tallest crane shows the structure rising on the $850 million Commercial Bay site in downtown Auckland.

Nicknamed Eenie, the huge red and white crane has been erected between Lower Albert St, Customs St West, the foot of Queen St and Quay St.

The video shows parts of the crane arriving via trucks, sections being hauled on to the site, then craned into place, all with Fletcher Construction's distinctive lion logo on the side.

At the end of the video, the boom is finally lifted up via crane and placed atop the entire structure, which will eventually be nearly a quarter of a kilometre tall.

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The German Leibherr 357 Luffing Crane is initially only 97m high. But it will climb to 225m by the end of the project, as the new 39-level tower rises on the site.

Deane Manley, managing director of NZ Crane Hire, said Fletcher Construction built the super crane using a number of mobile cranes including his company's 450 Grove GMK7450 - New Zealand's largest hydraulic crane.

That mobile crane has a maximum load capacity of 450 tonnes and a telescopic boom of 60m with a further 79m of lattice jib extension giving it the capability to lift up to 7.2 tonnes at a height of 130m, he said.

NZ Crane Hire had worked on many big projects in its 60 years and working on the Commercial Bay project, assisting building such a tall crane, might seem like a big challenge, he said. But the fundamentals of all of jobs remain similar, regardless of the size.

The crane, eventually to be nearly a quarter of a kilometre tall, going up on the Commercial Bay site in Auckland.
The crane, eventually to be nearly a quarter of a kilometre tall, going up on the Commercial Bay site in Auckland.

"Although cranes are still based on simple geometry and we are forever creating leveraged points of balance - which we've been doing ever since the Egyptians - a job like this highlights the need for careful planning, a high level of skill from the crane drivers and teamwork," Manley said.

The Fletcher Construction crane rose on this site near Auckland's waterfront.
The Fletcher Construction crane rose on this site near Auckland's waterfront.

The final stage of the crane build, in which the boom was put together, required two mobile cranes with the larger 450 Grove crane doing most of the high lifting and a smaller crane helping out.

"The 450 is perfect for this job because it has the capability to lift heavy weights to an extremely high level but because it's highly mobile it's able to work in a reasonably confined central city space," Manley said.

The City Rail Link tunnels are being built beneath the Commercial Bay site. The rail project is estimated to cost up to $3.4 billion.

The latest RLB Crane Index showed how an unprecedented number of cranes had risen across New Zealand's cities.

The research out this week revealed there are 132 cranes and 72 alone in Auckland - a record high in numbers and for the index.

"In Auckland, in particular, strong economic growth driven by high inward migration and increasing tourist numbers, along with solid housing activity, manufacturing and consumer spending, has seen the rock star economy continuing to drive the construction industry, where demand is stretching the current supply," said Chris Haines, Rider Levett Bucknall's Auckland director.

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"Auckland continues to dominate New Zealand skies with 72 long-term cranes, 55 per cent of all cranes observed across the seven key centres," he said.