Big Chill opens new Ruakura Superhub depot in ‘Golden triangle’


Kiwi temperature-controlled logistics company Big Chill Distribution, together with Tainui Group Holdings, has oepned a new purpose-built cool storage facility at the Ruakura Superhub in Hamilton.

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate officially opened the new super site that also included an inspiring kapa haka performance by Fraser High.

The 32,200 square metre facility on 3 hectares of Waikato-Tainui land will hold up to 16,500 pallets of chilled and frozen food ready for distribution to retail and food service businesses by Big Chill’s network of 180 temperature-controlled trucks and trailers.

Big Chill was acquired by listed company Freightways in 2020 and the new facility is the second investment the business has made to scale up Big Chill’s operations in the national delivery and 3PL & 4PL space.

At 490 hectares in total, the Ruakura Superhub is one of New Zealand’s largest multi-use developments, equivalent to the size of Auckland’s CBD. Located at the nexus of the ‘Golden triangle’ between Auckland and Tauranga, the Superhub is anchored by the Ruakura Inland Port.

Big Chill general manager Phil Clarke says the new site allows the company to better service its customers far wider than the Bay of Plenty and Auckland regions alone.

“We’ve been able to increase our warehousing capacity by 30 per cent at Ruakura and can now increase same day and overnight delivery services. We chose the site for its location and increased access to a comprehensive network of road and rail.

“It means we can spread the load between not only our Putaruru and Auckland depots, but all eleven of our facilities across the country to give our customers a more efficient storage and delivery service.”

Logistics supplier to high-volume chilled food manufacturers that stock petrol stations, supermarkets and the hospitality industry, the 13,000 square metre Big Chill Ruakura warehouse runs 24 hours a day, 6.5 days a week. Chiller storage sits at 2 degrees and frozen goods are lowered to -23 degrees Celsius.

The world class facility, owned by Tainui Group Holdings and leased long-term to Big Chill, has a 4-star Green Star rating. It took 24 months to build from breaking ground to its soft opening in October 2023.

“Since we got the keys last year, the customer demand and transition into Ruakura has exceeded expectations, and now that we’re officially open, we expect to move an average of 68 20-foot containers per week via rail alone. The super site has created a high level of interest for businesses that service the chilled and frozen food sector.

“Having the inland port and State Highway 1 a stone’s throw away is creating efficiencies we couldn’t have achieved at our other depots.

“Tainui Group Holdings has been fantastic to work with. The team has thought of everything to make the process seamless, and we’re really proud to be a part of the Superhub,” says Clarke.

Tainui Group Holdings chair Hinerangi Raumati-Tu’ua, says the benefits already being experienced by Big Chill are very much in line with the original premise for developing the superhub in this location.

“Ruakura Superhub is all about enabling a significantly more efficient transport supply chain network that benefits our tenants, their customers and ultimately the New Zealand public, so it’s rewarding to see the immediate gains it is delivering,” she says.

The site was designed with future planning in mind, featuring acoustic fencing to mitigate truck noise in consideration for the district’s future residential neighbours. Across the road, a landscaped 2.2km walk  and bike trail through wetlands is in an advanced stage of development by Tainui Group Holdings with plans to open this to the public once the extensive planting has taken hold.

Big Chill’s acquisition by Freightways in 2020 has scaled up its operations by opening two new purpose-built facilities bringing the company’s nationwide total to 11, increasing its team and investing in a new transport management system and new fleet. Forty-five new jobs were created at the Ruakura site, which will accommodate the company’s next ten years of growth.

“It’s an exciting time for Waikato-Tainui, our Big Chill team and our customers. We’re optimistic for what 2024 and beyond will bring,” says Clarke.