Auckland is the turnaround cruise port of New Zealand. Since ships docking here are also being re-provisioned, the port's exchange role makes it of crucial importance for the country's and the city's economy.
Port Auckland is located in Waitemata Harbour. It is managed by the Council-owned company Ports of Auckland Ltd. It manages Greater Auckland's commercial cargo and cruise ship facilities, but not the ferry terminals and the yacht marinas.
The port has 2 harbours (excluding the ferry terminals) - the container port (Auckland City) and the port in Onehunga. Wiri Inland Port (in Wiri, South Auckland) has terminals that serving NZ's reshipment (quick turnaround cargo shipping) trade linking the seaport with the country's road and rail freight networks.
Auckland is a major containership port located on the central-eastern waterfront. The port covers an area of 0,55 km2 / 0,21 mi2 of wharves and storage facilities (mainly for TEU-containers and cars). All the land is reclaimed (from the former Commercial, Official and Mechanics bays).
- Wynyard Wharf (aka Western Reclamation) is used for chemicals and liquids storage.
- Princes Wharf (Overseas Passenger Terminal/cruise terminal and residential development) provides cruise ship berthing.
- Queens Wharf is the proposed location for a new cruise terminal.
The other freight wharves are named Captain Cook, Marsden, Bledisloe, Jellicoe (alternative dock for large-sized cruise vessels), Freyberg, Fergusson.
In 2006, Ports of Auckland Ltd (management company) bought for NZD 27 million 3x new large dockside gantry cranes (for TEU-containers) from Zhenhua Port Machinery Co (China). The new cranes were installed at Axis Intermodal Terminal (Fergusson Wharf), in addition to 2x older cranes (2001-bought). The new gantry cranes are NZ's largest - each with weight 1250 tons, height 103 m (338 ft), boom length 56 m (184 ft) and lifting capacity 2x TEU-containers (at once) with speeds of up to 150 mph. The new cranes serve Post-Panamax vessels and in case of power failure provide emergency electricity to reefers (refrigerated containers).
The port handles annually around 1600 vessels, ranking it NZ's largest commercial port with over NZD 20 billion in shipped goods per year, It handles around 60% of the country's imports and 40% of the exports. Its annual container capacity is around 780,000 TEUs. The annual number of imported second-hand cars is around 166,000 (mainly Japanese models).
In late-December 2017, the port authority company (POAL) announced its plans for building shore power infrastructure (estimated project cost NZD 18,3 million). Shore-to-ship power supply reduces significantly the number of emissions generated by visiting vessels. The technology allows docked cruise vessels to shut down completely their diesel engines and connect to the city's electrical grid for all the onboard electrical power while berthed. The annual volume of reduced greenhouse gas emissions (COx, NOx, SOx) was estimated at around 31%.
In mid-August 2020, Ports of Auckland (management/authority company) was granted consent for deepening the shipping channel from 12,5 m (40 ft) to 14-14,2 m (46 ft). The channel dredging will allow larger (New Panamax) container ships to enter Port Auckland. These vessels have max draft 15 m (50 ft) when fully loaded.
Auckland cruise port
Port Auckland's cruising industry is a large contributor to the city economy. Each ship call brings in about NZD 1 million from passenger spending. For 2010 was estimated that the region received over NZD 177,4 million from direct expenditure by arriving passengers and crew. Each cruise passenger to NZ injects into the country’s economy ~NZD 1700. In 2010, New Zealand was ranked as the 4th largest international passenger cruising market - following Australia, UK, and the USA.
(statistics) during season 1996-1997 the port handled only 27 ship calls and around 19400 passengers.
(statistics) in the season 2005-2006, the port handled 48 cruise ship calls with over 100,000 passengers.
In March 2010, the world's second-largest cruise company - Royal Caribbean (RCCL) - announced its decision to open a dedicated office in NZ catering to the increasing numbers of local residents taking cruise ship travel vacations. RCCL acquired part of the Auckland-based travel agency "Cruise Vacations", which served its brand lines since 1990. Since April 2010, the NZ office is overseen by "Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia" and supports all operations for the RCCL's 3 brands - RCI, Celebrity, and Azamara. RCCL opened its Sydney-based office in December 2008.
During season 2010-2011, a total of 87 cruise ships visited Auckland, carrying 138,200 passengers and 56,400 crew, bringing around NZD 305 million into NZ's economy, plus around NZD 177 million into Auckland.
During season 2011-2012, the cruise port handled a total of 97 ship calls from 30 different vessels, over 200,000 passengers and 88,000 crew. Those injected NZD 346 million into the country's economy and provided over 5600 full-time jobs. Compared to the 2009-2010 season (109,951 passengers, over NZD 191 million to GDP) this was an increase of 81%.
(statistics 2014) the cruise port contributed USD 190 million to the local economy, with 115 ship calls and handling 188,500 passengers plus 75,000 crew.
According to CLIA, 2015 was a record year for NZ's cruising market. A total of 66152 local residents booked a ship cruise, which was a 10% increase over 2014. The statistics showed NZ as the 3rd international cruise market with a record double-digit increase in 2015 (preceded by China and Australia). The increase in NZ cruisers traveling to Australia was 71%, and to Asia - 64%. Over the period 2010-2015, the NZ's cruising market recorded an ~65% growth.
(statistics 2015) the cruise port reported a record passenger spending of about USD 484 million (port's worth USD 220 million to the local economy). This was an increase of 15% over the season 2014-2015 season. During season 2015-2016, Port Auckland had 105 cruise ship visits and served around 230,800 passengers.
Princess Cruises 2015-2016 itinerary program for the first time ever included a round-trip departure out of Auckland. The 9-night itinerary visited Melbourne, Burnie (Tasmania), Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln and Portland (Victoria), with prices starting from AUD 1200 pp (quad cabin). The cruise line's 2015-2016 program had scheduled more than 80 departures out of Australian ports (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne) and also from Auckland NZ.
In 2016, NZ's economy received a total of USD 484 million from the 249,000 cruise tourists. NZ's season 2016-2017 (September-April) ended with a total of 41 vessels (22 different companies) and 760 ship calls to 31 port- and island destinations. New Zealand's economy received over USD 490 million (across all regions).
In 2018, the port handled 113 ship calls and over 285,000 passengers. The number of cruise ship tourists to NZ (2017-2018 season) was estimated at around 280,000. For 2019, the cruise port had booked a total of 131 ship calls, with expected 322,000+ passengers (24% increase over 2018). Among season's highlights was the homeported Majestic Princess (port's largest liner so far). The 330-m, the 18-deck ship was launched in 2017 and has a max capacity of 4270 passengers plus 1350 crew.
In 2019, Stats NZ reported record levels of total cruise ship expenditure in New Zealand - NZD 569.8 million (~USD 363,5 million) to June 30, 2019, or an increase of 28% over 2018.
Cruise itineraries to and from Auckland New Zealand
Follows a list of destinations visited by cruise ships leaving out of Auckland:
World Cruises from Auckland are offered mostly as one-way segments from around the world itineraries by UK-based lines - like Cunard, P&O, Princess, Cruise Maritime). Full-length itineraries (eastbound or westbound) can be up to 110+ days round-trips starting from Southampton England). On those, just like Australia, New Zealand is only a mid-itinerary destination offering one-way departures from Auckland back to Southampton (disembarkation port). The longest eastbound itineraries from Auckland generally include USA ports (including Hawaii, California, Florida, often New York) and feature Panama Canal transition and Transatlantic crossing to Europe (UK). Longest westbound itineraries include the Suez Canal transition and ports in the Mediterranean Sea.
With the constantly growing popularity of cruising vacations among New Zealanders, the "World Cruises" round-trip from Auckland is starting to appear on the market. Such a deal is the Sea Princess ship's 2017 world itinerary (104-days westbound, May 16 through August 29) visiting ports all over Europe (including Norway and Iceland), also Canada New England, USA and South America (through Panama Canal). Princess started to offer round-trip New Zealand to Hawaii itineraries that include stops in Australia, Western Samoa, the Hawaiian islands and French Polynesia (with overnights in Papeete (Tahiti Island)).
Cruise to Nowhere Auckland deals is on 3-day round-trip itineraries without any ports of call along the route. Generally, these are themed voyages with themes like "food and wine" (most common), also comedy, sports, wellness, music, etc. There are onboard pre-scheduled theme events and activities like parties, concerts, meetings, presentations, tastings, etc.
Short-break ("Mini Cruises") are round-trips visiting Napier (4-day eastbound) or Bay of Islands (4-day northbound).
One-way cruises to Sydney from Auckland are 14-15-days in length and often visit Tasmania and Melbourne before Sydney.
The "South Pacific Islands" group of itineraries offers round-trip voyages with duration 8-9-10-15-days. They visit ports in New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo, New Guinea, Tonga.
Repositioning cruises from New Zealand to Asia are mostly offered by luxury ships as segments of their around the world itineraries. They end up in either Singapore or Hong Kong and include ports in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan. Longer segments may also include ports in China, Japan, and South Korea.
Repositioning cruises from New Zealand are between Auckland and the USA (via Hawaii) ending up in Honolulu or in California - Los Angeles, San Francisco or San Diego. Rarely, there are itineraries going all the way to Alaska ending in Vancouver BC (Canada) or Seattle WA (USA).
Auckland cruise terminal
Auckland cruise port terminal is part of Waitemata Harbour. Liners berth right at the heart of the city.
Port Auckland's principal cruise terminal is at Princes Wharf. The second facility used for cruise vessels is Queens Wharf. There is approved funding for “Shed 10″ (Queens Wharf) upgrade. Upon completion, it will become the port's primary cruise berth.
Queens Wharf cruise terminal
In 2010 was made the decision the old Shed 10 (2-story historic building, former warehouse) on Queens Wharf to be rebuilt and refurbished as a modern cruise terminal. The project's interior designers were from Jasmax.
City Council spent over NZD 23 million on the new terminal. Refurbishment works started in 2012 and were completed in 2013. The new cruise ship terminal is equipped with Customs, lounge, processing/waiting area, and various service facilities. The building's ground floor is used for pax luggage, security and border agency processing. Queens Wharf is a popular public space also used for themed event space by locals and tourists.
In September 2016 started the building of a mooring structure at the end of Queen's Wharf. The "mooring dolphin" was sunk into the sea bed (off the wharf's end) to provide a mooring point for longer / larger cruise vessels without spending much more money on a wharf extension. The structure cost USD 10 million and was completed and usable for the season 2017-2018.
In 2017, the port was visited twice by its ever-largest vessel - RCI's Ovation of the Seas. During both visits, the 348-m liner had to be moored in Waitemata and its passengers ferried ashore via tenders. The new mooring dolphin (location 75 m / 246 ft off Queens Wharf's end) is used for berthing only of the largest cruise liners.
In September 2018 were announced plans for a 90-m (295-ft) long mooring extension to be constructed off Queens Wharf. The 42 m (138 ft) long extension will be partially served by a gangway and will allow berthing for larger vessels - with LOA length up to 337 m (1105 ft). The new plan also includes the building of 2 mooring structures (48 m and 82 m dolphins) out from Queens Wharf. Walkway to the first mooring will be available to the public when liners are not docked. A smaller gangway will give port workers access to the 2nd structure. Once started, the project could be operational by summer 2020.
- address - "Queens Wharf, 150 Quay Street, Auckland New Zealand"
- location - near City Centre (Downtown Auckland), close to main transportation connections
- finger pier structure with 4 berths (one either side of both piers)
- Princes Wharf berth - max LOA length (1050 ft / 320 m), draft/depth (33 ft /10 m), served by jetway (airbridge) covered gangway
- Queens Wharf berth - max LOA length (968 ft / 295 m), draft/depth (33 ft /10 m), served by jetway (airbridge) covered gangway
Tidal Range: 0.2 to 3.3 metres
- The ship arrival times (mentioned above) show Pilot boarding times. To those must be added approx 1 1/2 hour for docking alongside the berth. This means if the Pilot boarding time is 6:30 am, the ship should be berthed and tied up around 7:30 to 8 am.
- Passenger disembarkation starts ~ 30 min (varies by vessel) after the ship has berthed.
- Meeting arriving passengers - Princes Wharf's passenger exit is located outside Shed 21. Queens Wharf's best place to meet quests is between Ferry Terminal and Cloud (the adjacent wharf).
- Public access to the port's working areas and the docked ships are forbidden (restricted to port staff, crew, and passengers only).
- The only people allowed to board the docked vessel are its crew, embarking (cruise ship) passengers and pre-approved visitors.
- The terminal has no luggage storage facility for disembarking passengers.
- The nearest supermarket is Countdown (on 76 Quay Str).
- The facilities at Auckland cruise port terminal include MAF agency, customs, stevedores, tour information. The port is located close to the Auckland International Airport, the city highlights, and the business district.
Cruise ship terminal directions & parking
- Exiting the airport turn left at first traffic lights (George Bolt Memorial Drive) and continue as the road runs into motorway route 20. Exit route 20 at the 2nd off-ramp to City and Nelson Str. Continue straight through the traffic lights at Nelson Str. and to the intersection of Nelson and Sturdee. Turn right into the left lane of Sturdee and at the 2nd street on the left turn in to Lower Hobson Str. Stay in the left lane and continue to the next set of traffic lights to the cruise terminal.
- Airbus Express leaves from the bus stop at Downtown Ferry Terminal. It takes ~ 45-60 min in each direction.
- Bus and train services are provided via Britomart Transport Centre, located across the street from Queens Wharf, and it's at ~ 5 min walking distance from Princes Wharf.
- Both cruise terminals have dedicated taxi ranks.
- Downtown Ferry Terminal (between both cruise ship wharves) is for ferry services to Devonport, West Harbour, Half Moon Bay, Pine Harbour, and Waiheke Island, plus various tour destinations.
- Queens Wharf and Princes Wharf are both public accessible. On-site traffic control gives directions for pick up / drop off zones. Both wharves don't offer public and long-term parking. Nearby located public parking facilities are the car parks Downtown, Viaduct and Britomart.
- The Red LINK bus line runs around Downtown and links Britomart Transport Centre, Queen Str, Karangahape Road and Wynyard Quarter. The bus is every 15 min (between 6.30 am - 11.30 pm).
- Green LINK bus line runs around the inner suburbs and major shopping areas. Among those are Parnell, Auckland Museum, Newmarket, Karangahape Road. The bus runs every 10 min (between 6.30 am - 8 pm).
- Orange LINK bus line runs the Green LINK routes plus Mt Eden, St Lukes Mall, MOTAT, Herne Bay. The bus runs every 15 min (between 6.30 am - 8 pm).
- Auckland Explorer Bus (hop on - hop off the bus stopping at Queens Wharf) circles around 14 of the city's main attractions.
Auckland port beside its passenger (cruise ship) terminal also has facilities to handle oil tankers and cargo ships (vehicle carriers, bulk carriers, and container vessels) and dry dock facilities for marine vessel refurbishments and repairs.
- UN-LOCODE (United Nations location code) - NZAKL
- supported by excellent road, rail, and air infrastructure
- deep channel water and berths - channel draft (41 ft / 12,5 m), berths draft (33 ft /10 m)
- sheltered harbor area
- access unrestricted by tides
- capability to accommodate 4 vessels at a time
- The Auckland cruise ship terminal doesn't provide shore-to-ship power (shore-side electricity supply) which could reduce significantly the levels of emissions, noise, and vibration in port.
- The cruise port is accessible the whole year round – 24/7, 365 days a tear.
- Cruise ships usually arrive in Auckland in the early morning (at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30 or 7:30 am) and depart from Auckland in the late afternoon or in the evening (at 4, 5, 6 or 7 pm).
- The cruise ship terminal is at approx 14 ml / 22 km from Auckland International Airport, which is ~ 30-40 min drive distance.
- The best vantage points to see ship arrivals/departures are public areas on both docking wharves, along with Quay Street (near Ferry Terminal), Fred Ambler Lookout, Gladstone Road, Mt Victoria, North Head, the Devonport Wharf, the East Coast Bay beaches.
Auckland tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Auckland War Memorial Museum: the largest museum in Auckland, dates from 1852. You will find different exhibitions.
- Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World: see the vision of the ocean by Kelly Tarlton, great inventor, explorer, famous Kiwi adventurer, and diver.
- Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT): 40 acres interactive journey through great achievements in the technology at the largest museum for transport and technology in New Zealand.
- Waiwera Thermal Spa Resort: it is located 40 minutes away from the Auckland’s center, direction North. The best place to relax not only your body but your mind too.
- Waiheke Island: catch a ferry and after 35 minutes you will reach this charming island. Explore the historical Stony Batter, beautiful vineyards, relax at the beach or have a picnic.
- SKYCITY: this casino and entertainment complex is located in the city center. It has stunning architecture. It offers a wide range of entertainments and a lot of places for dining.
- Auckland Zoo: the largest animal collection in New Zealand. It is next to Western Springs Park, just 5 min away by car from the central part of the city. You will see more than 750 animals and 120 different species.
- Vineyards: you can just visit a vineyard or join a tour for wine tasting. Try the Turanga Estate in Whitford, the Soljans in Kumeu, the Stoneyridge on Waiheke Island and the Babich Wines in Henderson.
- Beaches: the most popular is Takapuna and Eastern Beach at Mission Bay. If you prefer the quiet and peaceful place, visit Cockle Bay or Maraetai Beach.
- Cafes, bars, and restaurants: this city has to offer “something for everyone.”
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