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Regional Freight Hub

Designation announced

KiwiRail’s Palmerston North Hub designation became operative on 13 June 2023, following resolution of the RMA (Resource Management Act) designation process and is now included in the PNCC (Palmerston North City Council) District Plan. Designation details are available at: KiwiRail regional freight hub (

The KiwiRail project team would like to thank everyone who participated in the designation process for their time and energy, including iwi, Council and Hearing Panel officers and members, technical contributors, and submitters.

KiwiRail is working on an investment case to source funding to build the Hub and will then begin planning work, including considering any resource or building consents or other third-party approvals that may be required.

At this stage, we don’t expect to start enabling works before 2027. The Hub will be built in stages over a few decades, as freight volumes grow. Work is expected to begin at the southern end of the site, near Palmerston North Airport.

The Regional Freight Hub is an important project to support the long-term economic growth of Palmerston North and the Manawatū, creating jobs and bolstering the city’s logistics industry. We look forward to working with stakeholders and the community in the years and decades ahead.

For more detail about the Regional Freight Hub, the designation and next steps in its development see our Frequently Asked Questions.

The Regional Freight Hub story

Palmerston North is a nationally strategic freight location, with domestic and export goods moving to the city from Auckland and the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.

Freight volumes are expected to increase significantly in the coming decades and it is crucial that we have an integrated transport network to support this growth. Rail is an important part of this picture.

KiwiRail has progressed plans for a high-tech, intermodal freight hub which will help grow Palmerston North’s role as a critical freight distribution centre for the lower North Island.

It will support rail and road transport working together to meet the freight demand in the lower North Island, while boosting the regional economy.

The Regional Freight Hub project is a key part of Palmerston North City Council and the Central Economic Development Agency’s (CEDA) Te Utanganui multi-modal distribution hub being developed in Manawatū.

Te Utanganui will complementing the Golden Triangle (Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga) and southern Christchurch node, as the third major node in New Zealand’s national transport and freight network.

KiwiRail received seed funding through the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to undertake the high-level design (Master Plan) of the Regional Freight Hub, begin purchasing land for it, and designate the hub footprint for rail use.

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  • Reducing transport emissions and road costs - every tonne of freight carried by rail has 70 per cent fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight. Getting more freight on rail also reduces road maintenance costs and improves road safety.
  • Taking pressure off city roads - situating the Hub outside Palmerston North and integrating it with Waka Kotahi’s planned Regional Freight Ring Road and Te Ahu a Tūranga: Manawatū-Tararua Highway, will take freight traffic out of central Palmerston North and reduce congestion.
  • Growing the logistics industry in Manawatū - KiwiRail will also work with key customers on major infrastructure requirements to encourage logistics and distribution businesses into the area, to help grow the sector and create more local jobs.
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Intermodal Freight Hub design (Master Plan)

The Master Plan was developed to guide site selection for the new Regional Freight Hub.

It represents a new approach to integrated logistics for New Zealand.

The site combines a container terminal, warehousing, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.

It allows distribution companies to co-locate on the site, ensuring access to rail and improving operational efficiencies.

The Master Plan is based on best international supply chain practice and is future focused – designed to ultimately accommodate longer, more economical 1,500-metre trains.

More information about the Master Plan process is available here.


Updated Regional Freight Hub footprint and mitigation areas.

KiwiRail PN Freight Hub Masterplan

Regional Freight Hub site progress

On 2 July 2020, the preferred site of the Regional Freight Hub was announced.

The final site came after a year of work with stakeholders and experts to determine the best location around Palmerston North, beside the North Island Main Trunk rail line.

The site is partially in the North East Industrial Zone, stretching over rural land north towards Bunnythorpe. It is close to Palmerston North’s major distribution businesses and Palmerston North Airport.

In September 2020 KiwiRail unveiled more details about the proposed Regional Freight Hub footprint and mitigations.

This confirmed the location of properties affected by the Hub footprint, roading and level crossing changes and the potential measures, including land contouring, planting and wetland development, that will help fit the Hub into its surroundings and reduce impacts on the community.

More information can also be found in the following posters which were used at the community information session at Bunnythorpe School on 23 September 2020 and through the detailed cross section drawings that highlight the environment layout and various mitigation measures.

View information posters 

View detailed cross section drawings

KiwiRail sought public feedback on the Hub in July 2020 to finalise the design and develop mitigations. 

This included public drop-in sessions in Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe and an online zoom session.

Meaningful feedback from the local community and wider community was a crucial part of the final design process.

You can still view the interactive map used for online consultation to see what was said about our proposals:

The project team used the feedback we received to prepare the Notice of Requirement (NoR) – which confirms the site size and mitigations to minimise impact on the surrounding community.

We went back to landowners and the community with our plans in September 2020 and the NoR was lodged with the Palmerston North City Council in late October.  


Notice of Requirement/Designation

In late October 2020 KiwiRail lodged its Notice of Requirement (NoR) for a designation in the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) District Plan for the construction and operation of an inter-modal freight hub on land between Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe.

The NoR was publicly notified for submissions, with hearings held before an Independent Panel of Commissioners between August and September 2021.

On 2 March, 2022 the Panel’s decision to recommend the NoR was announced, with some small recommended changes to the proposed conditions. The Panel’s full decision is available at:  KiwiRail regional freight hub (

 A series of appeals were then lodged but these were resolved by 13 June 2023, making the Hub designation operative.


Project phases

  • August 2018: Application for funding to design a new road-rail hub near Palmerston North, have land designated for rail use and begin purchasing land submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • November 2018: $40 million Government funding to start development of the Hub project announced
  • November 2019: Master Plan (high level design) announced
  • July 2020: Preferred site announced
  • From July 2020: Sought public feedback as the Hub design was finalised and mitigations developed
  • October 2020: Designation process began - including public notification and public hearings
  • October 2021: Hearing by Independant Panel begins
  • April 2022: PNCC notifies submitters of the decision (and conditions) agreed to by Appeals period begins
  • June 2023: Appeals resolved, and designation became operative
  • Ongoing: KiwiRail is developing an investment case for funding the build of the Regional Freight Hub. This will be followed by planning work, including any necessary resource consents, building consents and other third-party approvals

  More information and contact details