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Auckland’s downtown Ferry Basin is struggling to keep up with the demand for berth space from cruise ships and ferries, especially during commuting hours

Editorial – February / March’20

Ports of Auckland is getting it in the neck from all sides at present, with the release of the final report of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) Working Group and more recently the hassles on the water with commuter ferries vs cruise ships.

The final UNISCS report calls for Ports of Auckland to be closed and its operations relocated to Northport at Marsden Point near Whangarei – an outcome that must have been music to the ears of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. One of his key policies at the last general election was a ‘cast iron commitment’ to relocate the port to Northland within 10 years. 

One of the key findings of the UNISCS report is that ‘Ports of Auckland’s CBD freight operation is no longer economically or environmentally viable, and is constrained by landside infrastructure failure’. Now it would seem the port’s wharfside infrastructure is failing to keep up too, with a number of commuter ferries forced to wait and even cancel some scheduled runs last week while cruise ships were berthing in the Ferry Basin. One Auckland commuter tweeted a photo, saying: “Line up of ferries circling around and around, getting later and later, because of another cruise ship jam.”

With cruise ships scheduled to be alongside Princes Wharf on most days over the summer period, and the construction of new ferry berths alongside Queens Wharf narrowing the waterway even further, the Ferry Basin is a very congested place. Imagine bringing a loaded freight train into Britomart at 8am every day, holding up the passenger services, and you begin to understand the frustration of the ferry users.

Mayor Phil Goff has been meeting with Ports of Auckland, Auckland Transport, Waiheke Community Board members and ferry operator Fullers with a ‘please explain’ why cancellations and delays are happening. Fullers says the delays are caused by cruise liner berthings. The harbourmaster says there are no grounds for cancellations. The port says cruise ships are scheduled more than a year in advance. The Waiheke Island residents are calling for heads to roll. 

Add in the roadworks carnage that is Quay Street and it is an unhappy time on Auckland’s waterfront at present.

Until next time … 
Lynne Richardson, editor 


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