The Anatoki cargo ship is only a baby in shipping terms, owner Doug Smith says, but it's big enough to help make the case to redevelop the Whanganui Port.

"We've done a lot to re-establish a small bulk shipping on the coast," he said. "It hasn't been easy."

This ship has the capacity to take 22 trucks off the road, an environmentally friendly transport option, but it does have its drawbacks.

"People are used to the just-in-time culture and shipping needs a lot of infrastructure and bulk storage around the country," Smith said. "They're used to a couple of trucks a day coming in. We'll bring in 800 tonne and they go 'well that's great, where we gonna put it?'"


This is where the Whanganui Port comes in - a remote but fully functioning hub left untouched for years.

"One of the beauties [of it] is that all the old infrastructure is still in place here and it hasn't been trashed because there's been no need to trash it," Smith said.

"Most ports are geared around international ships these days, and so they have minimum costs involved in entry. So in some cases, if you're carrying 600 tonne of grain, it can be as much as $10/tonne."

The port had already been earmarked for development but has applied for a matching amount from the Provincial Development Fund.

"The council has brought forward $12.3 million worth of funding for infrastructure, this is already in the long term plan, the PGF application got for a similar amount of money to match that," ports manager Phil McBride said.

The planned development is large in scope and scale. A number of businesses are set to benefit.

"The plan for the port revitalisation project is to do up Number One wharf to commercial standard, Number Two wharf will be brought up to light commercial, fishing boats those sorts of things. And Number Three wharf is small commercial and recreational boats.

"Part of the project is the purchase of a dredge. It'll be a small cutter suction dredge which will open up a channel alongside the wharf consistently which will allow the small boats and the coastguard boat to get out more regularly.


"We're still at the mercy of the river though, so any logs that come down could potentially block up the boat ramp and we can't do anything about that."

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