Marsden Point lies at the entrance of Whangarei Harbour. Its natural deepwater entrance allows ships of 13 metres draft to berth at the new port. New Zealand's only oil refinery is also at Marsden Point and can handle tankers up to 150000 tonnes deadweight with a maximum draft of 15.2 metres.
BACKGROUND: A container port facility at Marsden Point was first proposed in the late 1960's by the Northland Harbour Board, the controlling authority at the time. A futuristic drawing was published but it was not until 1976 that the proposal was moved ahead when the first of several environmental reports was written. As part of that first report, a hydraulic model was constructed and tidal flow data was fed into it to give a realistic model of the effects on the harbour at the site of the proposed port. During the 1980's the plan faltered but it was not until the Northland Port Corporation was formed in 1988 that it gained momentum again. Northland's forestry industry was slowly increasing in production and it was the catylist for the building of the new port. For economic reasons the port had to be available at a time when cargo volumes would provide income to make the project viable. Much hydographic data and environmental information was collected in preparation for Resource Management consents which were applied for in 1995. Final consents for a two berth port were granted in 2000 and the Northland Port Corporation then entered into a joint venture with Port of Tauranga to form Northport Ltd. Construction of the new port facility commenced towards the end of 2000. The first berth opened for business in June 2002. In late 2004 further consents were obtained for the construction of the third berth of the proposed four with construction commencing in late 2005. The new berth is expected to be fully completed by July 2007 when it will be available to be used for cargo operations. In April 2007 all cargo operations were transferred to Marsden Point which meant the closure of Port Whangarei to commercial shipping. The construction of the fourth berth to the east will not take place until cargo volumes make it viable.
NORTHLAND HARBOUR BOARD: The Northland Harbour Board, the Northland Port Corporation's predecessor, was constituted in the early 1960's after amalgamating all the northern New Zealand ports. Its function was to administer those ports and assets on behalf of the people of Northland and was the regulatory authority for those harbours. At about this time the decision was made to build New Zealand's only oil refinery at Marsden Point and the Northland Harbour Board subsequently supplied the marine services to the oil industry.
NORTHLAND PORT CORPORATION and PORT OF TAURANGA: The Northland Port Corporation and Port of Tauranga were formed as a result of the Port Companies Act 1988 which required Harbour Boards to form companies to take over the commercial port related assets of the Boards. Section 5 of the Act provided that " the principle objective of every port company shall be to operate as a successful business".
The Northland Port Corporation was incorporated on 18 October 1988 and purchased the required assets from the Northland Harbour Board, which was subsequently disestablished. The Harbour Board's statutory obligations were transferred to the Northland Regional Council. With the formation of Northport as a joint venture with Port of Tauranga, the Port Corporation ceased to be directly involved in port activities and instead became focused on investment opportunities.
NORTHPORT LTD: Northport began trading in July 2002 as the port operating company when it took over the port activities of the Northland Port Corporation at both Marsden Point and Port Whangarei. With the closure of Port Whangarei to commercial shipping, all cargo operations have transferred to Marsden Point. In April 2003, Northport formed a joint venture, North Tugz, with Ports of Auckland to provide Pilotage and Tug services for ships arriving at Marsden Point at Northport's berths and the New Zealand Refining Co. jetties.
Northport's Port Information (pdf file 2mb) 1960's Proposed Container Port Development
Northland Port Corporation Northport Ports of Auckland Port of Tauranga