Aotea Maersk pulling into port

Crowds of people have gathered at Salisbury Wharf to see the biggest ship ever to enter the Port of Tauranga.

The Aotea Maersk marks the first call on the New Zealand coast of a larger class of container ship making the run from West Coast South America to Asian ports.

Its arrival at the Port of Tauranga marks the beginning of a trade partnership between Maersk, the Port of Tauranga Ltd and Kotahi which have collaborated to provide the shipping, the facility, and the cargo volumes to make regular port calls at Tauranga worthwhile for a ship of the Aotea Maersk’s 9,640TEU container capacity.

Aotea Maersk is 347m long, 43m wide and draws about 14m. Tauranga is the only New Zealand port in which it will fit, and that’s only after the port has spent about $350 million over recent years deepening and widening the harbor channels and buying new cargo handling gear, preparing for ships of its class.

Aotea Maersk, the largest container ship to ever visit New Zealand waters capable of carrying 9,640 TEU, was officially welcomed to the Port of Tauranga by Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges today, marking a new era in ocean freight.

Maersk Line Oceania Managing Director Gerard Morrison says the company is able to bring in the larger ships as it becomes the first container line to successfully tie New Zealand to its global mainline networks. 

“The arrival of the Aotea Maersk marks a step change towards creating a network that is more fuel-efficient on a per-container basis whilst also significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the ocean freight component of the supply chain."

The Aotea Maersk is deployed on Maersk Line’s enhanced Triple Star service which now offers 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. The Aotea Maersk, one of 11 vessels in the service rotation, will be capable of holding more than double the number of containers of ships that currently dock in New Zealand. The ship is 347 metres in length – longer than three rugby fields, end-on-end.

Kotahi Chief Executive David Ross says the Aotea Maersk arrival was a great step in the right direction to ensure New Zealand achieves a secure, sustainable export supply chain.

“Seeing this vessel arrive puts into perspective what can be achieved by working in collaboration with logistics and infrastructure partners, exporters, importers and the wider industry. It recognises Maersk Line’s commitment to the New Zealand market,” he said.

Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Mark Cairns is pleased to see the Port’s recently completed $350 million infrastructure upgrade being utilised so promptly.

“The arrival of larger ships to our waters is a key milestone for New Zealand on its journey to become a more efficient trading nation and will enable New Zealand to better compete with export nations which already have big ships on their main trade routes."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller welcomes the arrival this morning of the huge megaship Aotea Maersk in Tauranga.

"This enormous vessel is opening up huge opportunities for Bay exporters and the wider country. 

"A direct line from Chile to China via NZ is something our forebears could only imagine and now we have the opportunity to build off this to become a true Australasian port hub. 

"The countries that are opened up to more efficient and frequent trading through this route will benefit our local kiwifruit industry hugely who have deep trade connections to all those countries," says Todd.

"But its more than kiwifruit and other local export opportunities, it signals Tauranga has come of age as a truly global port. A huge congratulations to Mark Cairns and his staff for their drive and foresight and to the wider community for their support of this vision."

The Aotea Maersk pulling into port. Photo: Andrew Campbell.

Photo: Andrew Campbell.

Photos: Chris Callinan.

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