New shipping link a great opportunity for Northland business

20 April 2018

The first containers to be used on a new direct shipping service between Whangarei, Brisbane and Singapore were delivered to Northport today aboard a vessel named, appropriately, Northern Diplomat. The seasonal fortnightly shipping service is being offered to Northland businesses by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a global leader in sea cargo transportation and logistics, and will improve sea freight transit times for local importers and exporters.

Customers already signed up to use the service include Northland growers of kiwifruit and other fruit, and exporters of manufactured timber products.

The service will run for the remainder of the 2018 fruit export period but will be available for any kind of import or export container shipment. Northport’s commercial manager David Finchett said it represented opportunity for all industries across the region. He urged Northland business, both importers and exporters, to explore the opportunities presented by the new MSC service.

“Our goal is to build cargo volumes to the point where the service becomes regular instead of seasonal. If we can demonstrate consistent demand for this shipping link from Northland importers and exporters there is no reason why it should not become a weekly service instead of a fortnightly one.

“It’s a great option for Northland business that has taken a lot of work and co-ordination by Northport, Northland Inc and many other parties, to bring about. But, like all things, if we don’t use it we’ll lose it. So we really hope that Northland makes the most of it.”

David Wilson, chief executive officer of Northland’s economic development agency Northland Inc, said new sea freight services linking the region directly with international markets presented significant opportunity for its economy.

“Until now many Northland businesses have had to incur cost and time penalties to either bring things in through, or ship products out of, other ports. Links like this one, using our very own local port, bring new levels of competitive advantage to Northland and should be both welcomed and supported by local business owners.

“The growth of Northport is a project within the Northland Tai Tokerau Economic Action Plan and will be an important part of any integrated logistic solution for Auckland and the top half of the North Island.”

Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai described the opening of the new route as “fantastic news” that would further connect Northland with the world and strengthen the case for the relocation of Auckland-based manufacturers to Whangarei and the Marsden Point area, with its abundance of inexpensive industrial and port-zoned land.

Carl Muller, general manager of Orangewood Ltd, a post-harvest and orchard management company in the Far North, said the new service was “a real coup” for the region’s kiwifruit growers. It was more efficient and cost-effective than export routes they had been using previously and MSC’s Singapore hub gave exporters easy access to markets virtually anywhere.

“It’s hard to over-state the importance to our region and our industry of an efficient, well-connected local port that gives local businesses great access to the world,” he said.

Mr Finchett said the new service fitted perfectly with Northport’s vision for growth.

“Ports don’t drive economic growth but certainly can facilitate it. Northport has plenty of ability to grow the port, as required, to help Northland importers and exporters reduce shipping costs and improve efficiencies.”

The service starts in early May. Interested parties should contact:

Northport’s commercial manager: David Finchett  Tel: 09 432 5062, or

MSC’s North Island manager: Richard Allan  Tel: 09 909 2773

- ends -

About Northport

Northport, situated at Marsden Point at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour, is New Zealand’s northernmost deep-water port. It is a flexible facility catering for large, multi-purpose vessels and full cargo handling facilities are available from its 570-metre linear berth.


Logs, woodchip and processed timber for export comprise the bulk of cargo processed by the port. Recent investment in container handling equipment has seen an uptake in coastal and international container trade. Other export items include kiwifruit, dairy products and manufactured goods. Imports are an important part of Northport’s business and include fertiliser, gypsum, coal and palm kernel.


The port is owned and operated by Northport Ltd, itself owned jointly and equally by Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd and the Port of Tauranga Ltd.