While Port of Auckland’s woes are well documented in New Zealand, shipping congestion and delays are an issue for Ports world-wide (check out this amazing video to get an idea of the shipping congestion in California). There are some green shoots of hope poking through, but unfortunately one thing that is not likely to improve quickly is costs going down; ‘it’s costing everyone more to do the same job’ and while shipping lines are enjoying record profits there is less impetus for them to add more capacity.

New Zealand:

  • Ports of Auckland are still facing delays of 10+ days, but they have employed five more crane and straddle operators and are waiting for them to clear immigration and quarantine requirements. (PoA has eight ship-to-shore cranes but is only using 3 during the day and 2 at night due to labour shortages)
  • Port of Tauranga has been taking some of the load, but the bottle neck there is still getting space on the rail link in and out of Tauranga
  • Empty containers have continued to be a problem although there is some signs it is easing; Auckland/Tauranga have full yards of empties, slowing the return of more and in the South Island there is a shortage of empties.
  • Maersk announced in February halving its OC1 services to Auckland and US east coast until April, due to the continued Port delays in Auckland – but would continue to visit Tauranga.
  • Some good news: Maersk has announced a new international service the ‘Sirius Star’ connecting most NZ ports with Fiji from March – this service is expected to assist with repositioning empty containers to the Ports requiring them.
  • NZ’s Primary sector export peak season will ease off in June, and with it some of the pressure on the supply chain allowing a chance to catch up somewhat.


  • Port congestion is a world-wide issue, not just in NZ, and the ability to predict arrival of vessels and cargo is remaining very difficult.
  • Australian industrial action has continued most recently in Melbourne, adding to current delays. It is expected some shipping lines may omit the port to avoid the further delays.
  • There are reports of significant delays of up to 6 weeks to get space into Australia from NZ due to limited sailings and capacities.
  • US Ports are facing delays of ~6 weeks due to congestion and weather related issues are adding to it. Check out this video link illustrating the California vessel delays
  • China is still experiencing a shortage of ships and not enough space on vessels. Exporters are paying a premium to get on a vessel. (In January 2020 a 20’ container might have cost $500 USD, for the same week in 2021 it was $6000 USD)
  • Maersk announced a $4B profit for the end of 2020, so while all shipping lines (not just Maersk) are enjoying some of the healthiest balance sheets in years there is not a huge impetus for them to ‘fix’ the current challenges and introduce more capacity.