Martin van Beynen/Stuff
The port of Lyttelton is not congested like its counterparts up north, but the flow-on effects are biting.
Christchurch’s Lyttelton Port is feeling the pinch of shipping delays plaguing upper North Island ports.
Ports of Auckland is struggling with a large backlog of containers and has been accused of overloading the Port of Tauranga with diverted vessels during its peak export season.
Lyttelton Port Company container operations general manager Simon Munt said the flow-on effects of the congestion in Auckland and Tauranga were having an impact.
“We have been experiencing delays in vessel arrivals, and there have been a small number of vessels that have not made it to Lyttelton due to delays and time constraints.
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“The effect has been to delay import arrivals, which in turn impacts the availability of empty containers.
“The supply of empty containers will have an impact on exporters with increasing challenges for shipping lines to reposition empty containers to where they are required.”
The company was concerned about how long it might take for the situation to “return to normal”, he said.
Shipping lines have been adjusting their rotations and in some cases making Lyttelton their first call.
“This may help to alleviate supply issues a little,” Munt said.
Lyttelton’s container terminal has not been experiencing congestion, with import containers clearing as normal after arrival.
“While there has been the occasional delay in trucking in and out of the port due to the fact we are in our peak season, operations are proceeding smoothly,” Munt said.
New Zealand’s freight forwarders have been urging retailers and other importers to get sea freight space booked as early as possible, as severe shortages of shipping capacity loom.
Rosemarie Dawson, chief executive of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand, said last month that shortages of international sea freight capacity into New Zealand and Australia were reaching critical levels.
Lyttelton Port Company
Lyttelton’s new $67 million cruise ship berth has opened, and while Covid-19 has put a huge dampener on the cruise industry, Kiwi-only cruises will launch soon.
Demand for space was up 20-25 per cent on the same period last year due to a surge in consumer demand, she said.
Transport hubs like Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan had containers backed up waiting for space on vessels.
Australian industrial action was causing major delays in vessels leaving Sydney for New Zealand and shipping lines were starting to introduce surcharges, she said.
Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich in recent days said the council was deeply concerned about impending shortages.
Global shipping companies have been bypassing New Zealand, causing supply shortages of some products.
“For consumers, they need to realise we are going to face shortages for some products. It is not a case of never getting a product but a case of when.”