Muriwai, Mahurangi and Kaipara harbour are among sites an independent group says should be looked at if Auckland's port decides to move some or all of its activity to another location.
The Ports Future Study, set up by Auckland mayor Len Brown, has released its long-list of port locations that could work from a purely technical perspective.
The completed study was due by the end of this June and would outline the full range of options for the port's long-term future.
That could include expanding the port's current site in Waitemata harbour, closing the port and allowing its activity to be absorbed by Port of Tauranga or Northport in Whangarei, or shifting some or all of the port's activity to another area.
The long-list released today - which only looked at that last option - included 12 areas, including "blue-sky" options that had not been considered by previous studies.
The areas ranged from Whangarei to Whakatane and included sites known largely for their environmental value, such as Muriwai and the Firth of Thames.
Study group chairman Rick Boven said the group would now seek feedback before whittling the options down to a short-list that would be analysed in more detail.
"We may find that some stack up well against future growth projections and infrastructure development plans, and others are simply not suitable because of environmental, social, economic or cultural concerns," he said.
The port study was set up last year following widespread public opposition to the port's proposal to extend Bledisloe Wharf further into Waitemata harbour.
Ports Future Study long-list:
- Kaipara Harbour
- Manukau area
- South-western coastline (includes Port Waikato)
- Upper North Auckland (includes Whangaparaoa and Long Bay)
- Waitemata and other Auckland areas
- Tamaki Strait area
- Firth of Thames
Waitemata ward councillor Mike Lee said some of the sites should never have made a the list of areas to be considered and some of the suggestions were batty.
Instead, Mr Lee said the focus should be on making the current port more efficient, without expanding further into Waitemata harbour.
Rick Boven said some areas were included in the list for thoroughness and would probably drop off the list.