Trucks being loaded at night

Trucks being loaded at night.

Tugs pulling ANZDL 'Kookaburra'

Tugs pulling the ANZDL "Kookaburra".


Cloth from London, hardware from Sheffield, sugar from Mauritius, tea from Ceylon, gold from Coromandel, kauri gum from Northland, dairy produce from the Waikato-goods and people were a constant flow across the Port of Auckland in the nineteenth century demanding constant increases to the scale and scope of activities. Ships also changed. Clippers in the 1870s, were soon outmoded by steamers in the 1880s, which then gave way to steam turbine-driven luxury passenger liners in the early twentieth-century, as well as cargo ships of all descriptions, many of which serviced remote rural communities around New Zealand in the South Pacific.

As the size and speed of shipping changed, so too did the demands of cargo. Goods which were once shipped in barrels, boxes, and sacks, were by the 1920s shipped on pallets, moved around by cranes instead of by hand or cart. Further, the Port of Auckland provided extensive passenger services both for the overseas trade, and the inter-harbour ferry services to Devonport and gulf islands.

By the 1950s, over 64 mobile and fixed cranes worked the docks, supported by an array of large storage sheds and support services. Tractors pulled flat-top trailers around the port, while forklift trucks off-loaded and discharged cargo to trucks or railway wagons.

    However, two factors signaled a dramatic change to port services. While passenger liners were still an important feature, by 1958, passenger air travel across the Atlantic had surpassed passenger ship numbers. In New Zealand, TEAL, which had operated air services since 1940, commenced the Coral route to the Pacific in 1951, and in 1965, jet aircraft began to fly international routes out of New Zealand.

    Containerisation, also first trialed in the late 1950s, saw the introduction of cargo moved in standard sized prefabricated metal containers. This provided a reduction to both labour costs as well as cargo handling times, altering the provision of goods and services in the ports. Instead of long finger-wharves, broad expanses of hard surface were required to store containers and manoeuvre machinery. Following significant investment, Ports of Auckland opened its Fergusson container wharf in 1971.

    Loading containers Loading Containers.

The container train The Container Train.

Straddle crane in action Straddle crane in action.

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