The maritime sector plays a crucial role in the movement of freight into, out of, and throughout New Zealand.

Below are overviews of the most viewed sea transport topics. You can also follow the links on the left of this page to find out more about the projects we are working on.

About sea transport in New Zealand

The maritime sector is largely led by the private sector, although a number of local authorities have an ownership interest in their local ports.

Our sea ports are responsible for moving more than 49 million tonnes of exports (99 percent by weight of all exports) and imports, with a combined value of more than $75 billion each year. The cruise industry also plays an increasing role in our tourism market1.

Domestically, shipping is also a part of our transport system for bulk commodities, and inter-island ferry services and could potentially play a much bigger role.

The government is focussed on port productivity issues, improving public information on maritime and freight transport, and improving the safety of the maritime sector.

International shipping is governed by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)(external link). As a signatory to the Convention, New Zealand has very clear obligations including being bound to have a comprehensive set of safety and security regulations based on the principles prescribed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).(external link)

Key government sea transport organisations

  • The Ministry of Transport
    The Ministry is the government's principal transport adviser. We provide policy advice and support to ministers. See About the Ministry of Transport for more information.
  • Maritime New Zealand (MNZ)
    A Crown entity, MNZ's mission is to lead and support the maritime community to take responsibility for ensuring our seas are safe, secure and clean. Read more on the Maritime New Zealand(external link) website.
  • Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC)
    TAIC determines the circumstances and causes of accidents and incidents with a view to avoiding similar occurrences in future. Find out more at the Transport Accident Investigation Commission(external link) website.

Business Structures of Small Commercial Maritime Operators

The first report of its kind shows New Zealand’s small businesses (0-19 employees) engaged in fishing, off-shore aquaculture, and water transport are small but starting to get bigger.

The report, Business Structures of Small Commercial Maritime Operators [PDF, 766 KB], maps changes in small fishing, aquaculture and water transport businesses from 2000 to 2015.

Clifford Bay

The government has decided not to proceed with a ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in Marlborough. Read more about the decision here.

Financial security regime for offshore installations

2018 amendment to the Marine Protection Rule part 102 - Certificate of insurance

The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment invite comment on the draft Marine Protection Rules – Part 102 certificates of insurance amendment 2018. Information about this amendment, the text of the draft amendment rule and how you can respond are linked here:

Invitation to comment – draft marine Protection Rules  - Part 102 certificates of insurance amendment [PDF, 288 KB]; and

Marine Protection Rule Part 102 Amendment Rule [PDF, 940 KB]

Maritime New Zealand is also seeking feedback on guidelines for owners of offshore installations obtaining insurance cover. To review these guidelines and provide feedback, please visit: link)

2016 amendment to the Marine Protection Rule part 102 - Certificate of insurance

The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released a discussion document on 19 December 2016, and invited feedback from interested people and organisations. This draft Rule is linked here:

Read more about the previous draft Rule document here.

Oil Pollution Levy

The Oil Pollution Levy, established by Order in Council, is a levy on all commercial maritime operators and is used to fund New Zealand’s preparedness and response to marine oil spills.

Read more about the Oil Pollution Levy can be found on the Maritime New Zealand website(external link).

MNZ is seeking feedback on three options for the second half of the six year Levy period covering the amount of revenue sought and how the levy is applied.

Please visit the Maritime New Zealand website(external link)(external link) for full information on the consultation.

1 Source: Statistics New Zealand(external link), see 2010/11 figures in Transport Indicators FT010 and FT011