Port of Tauranga is set to welcome the largest container ship to ever visit New Zealand waters, carrying 9,500 TEU (20 ft equivalent units). Maersk Line, the world's largest container shipping company, and Kotahi, New Zealand's leading export supply chain collaboration, announced the new direct service from Asia, which will only call at Tauranga in New Zealand.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said Port of Tauranga was well- placed to handle the larger vessels. "The final stage dredging work will be completed in August as part of a $350 million capital investment programme to develop the infrastructure to become a port capable of handling larger ships," he said. "We are pleased to see that our upgraded infrastructure will be utilised so promptly. This gives us the opportunity to continue providing our customers with premium ocean freight solutions from a range of carriers. We're proud to be part of an innovative collaboration keeping New Zealand businesses competitive on the world stage."

Maersk Line Oceania managing director Gerard Morrison said the collaborative partnership with Kotahi established two years ago had been a catalyst for Maersk Line's pursuit of bringing larger ships to New Zealand. "Maersk Line's existing Triple Star service will now link its northbound export calls into the company's Asia-South America (AC) service offering a fast weekly connection to North Asia providing New Zealand exporters with a sustainable, direct service to important markets including Taiwan, China, Korea and Japan. To complement the recently announced southbound service, the enhanced Triple Star will increase its frequency from fortnightly to weekly, and from late September, call at Port of Tauranga, arriving from Chile," he said.

Kotahi chief executive David Ross said the new era of big ship visits to New Zealand had been made possible through Kotahi's collaboration with exporters, Maersk Line and Port of Tauranga to lay the groundwork to bring larger, more sustainable and efficient vessels to the country's key trade lane, New Zealand to Asia. "It's fantastic to see this now being delivered in a shorter timeframe than originally envisaged. The arrival of  larger ships to our waters is a key milestone for New Zealand on its journey to become a more efficient export nation. "The new Triple Star enhances services to Asia, and the recently announced South Pacific Express achieves a direct service to South America, enabling New Zealand to better compete with export nations which have big ships on their main trade routes."

Mr Morrison said it was predominantly the export volumes from Latin America to Asia that enabled the opportunity for New Zealand exporters to participate in the new service. "This new generation 9,500 TEU vessel is more fuel efficient on a per-container basis and will reduce the carbon footprint of the ocean freight component of New Zealand exports by a minimum of 22 per cent per container unit, compared to the existing New Zealand industry average," he said.

Source : Bay of Plenty Times