Coastal shipping route between Napier and Gisborne ‘a success’

Coastal shipping route between Napier and Gisborne ‘a success’

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Announcement of emergency shipping service, Gisborne to Napier - made at Gisborne Port

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement of an emergency shipping route between Gisborne and Napier in March.
Photo: RNZ / Ashleigh McCaull

The coastal route carrying goods between Napier and Gisborne is proving successful with the ship doing 13 trips in its first month of operation.

Dubbed the ‘blue highway’, the government last month announced a $2.75 million subsidy for the freight ship Rangitata to run an emergency coastal route between the two cities for three months.

The route was put in place due to road closures caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.

Eastland Port charters the Rangitata. Its chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum said since launching the service the ship had made 13 trips between Napier and Gisborne – carrying mostly primary industry goods.

“It’s carried a whole of meat, some squash for Leaderbrand, a few containers for a company which process fruit and vegetables locally and we’re just starting with the apple season, getting them to Napier for export.

“The ship, which can carry 32 40-foot containers, has been relatively full for most of the trips.”

Gaddum said the coastal shipping route had provided certainty for producers that they could get their products where they needed to go.

“I think just by the number of the containers we’ve put on the shipping route has certainly exceeded our expectations to be quite frank, so I think it’s been a success.”

The blue highway route had proved there was a place for coastal shipping of local produce, he said.

“It was a steep learning curve for us; we don’t do containers out of Gisborne, it’s predominantly a log export port, but we’ve made it work.”

Gaddam said if the route were to be made a permanent fixture – instead of it just being a point-to-point service between Gisborne and Napier – Gisborne would probably just become a calling stop for ships already going past – which would reduce costs.

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