New shipping services skipping Port Otago

Container vessel Maersk Willemstadt docked at Port Otago yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Container vessel Maersk Willemstadt docked at Port Otago yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
An international shipping company says it has enough capacity on its existing network and does not need to extend its new coastal shipping services to Dunedin.

Last week, Maersk announced it had started two dedicated domestic New Zealand coastal shipping services.

One service would link Auckland, Tauranga, Timaru and Lyttelton, while the other would see Nelson replace Auckland and link with the other three ports.

That would mean fortnightly connections for Auckland and Nelson, and weekly for the others.

The aim was to offer reliable coastal services and connections for domestic and international cargo, Maersk said.

"The additional investment into a dedicated New Zealand coastal service, in conjunction with recent announcement to build a cold chain facility in Hamilton, will create significant value for our New Zealand customers," the company said in a statement.

There had been growing calls to revive a coastal shipping service with New Zealand ships, as the schedules of international vessels became increasingly erratic due to the pressure of unprecedented global demand.

When asked why Port Otago had missed out on the new services, a Maersk spokeswoman said the port’s existing two international services — Southern Star and OC1 — had capacity to meet the demand and connect cargo to and from Dunedin throughout New Zealand.

The Southern Star service offered a north-to-south connection, the route going from Tauranga to Dunedin with stops in Napier and Lyttelton.

The OC1 service offered a south-to-north connection, going direct from Dunedin to Tauranga.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said while the new routes would not directly service the lower South Island’s exporters, they would help ease pressure on Maersk’s existing services into the port.

Port Otago was "fully supportive" of the shipping company’s approach, he said.

The Southern Star and OC1 routes would become more reliable as a result of Maersk’s new services as they would
not have to carry extra cargo now.

"Becoming more reliable and consistent is key here, and that clearly benefits the supply chain," Mr Winders said.

— Additional reporting RNZ