A PORT NELSON BLOG
The last month has been one that the world is going to be talking about for a long time to come. Six months ago, we had never heard the word “COVID” and now it features in almost every conversation or article we read. But that is not the only reason we will remember the past four weeks at Port Nelson. While we have been navigating the restrictions of COVID-19 our highly skilled team have managed to kick some serious goals and achieve some new records against the odds.
With lockdown starting in peak pip fruit season, the team were prepared for a busy few months ahead, and the season has not disappointed. Demand for the New Zealand’s apples has remained strong and in April alone we have exported 51357 Revenue Tonne or 1938 TEU of the region’s apples to the world.
The Port also welcomed the first breakbulk vessel for apple export since 2016. The Baltic Spring, a breakbulk reefer vessel was chartered by T&G Global to export 5400 pallets or about 31 million apples to Antwerp from both Nelson-Tasman and the Hawkes Bay. Breakbulk vessels were once a common sight during apple season, but with reefer containers now more common, it was first for this type of loading for many of the SSA Nelson stevedores who loaded the vessel over the ANZAC weekend.
The team at QuayConnect have also been hitting new targets as wine drinkers around the world demand New Zealand’s fine wine during times of crisis. Despite an ongoing harvest and what would normally be a quieter time for the team to prepare for the 2020 vintage, QuayConnect saw a 53% growth in volumes during March, from last year, a welcome record for the month that saw our first week of lockdown and nervousness in global markets already hit by COVID-19 shut downs. Throughout lockdown the volumes have kept rolling in. During the week starting 14 April, QuayConnect staff packed 76 containers of export wine. That's 93,632 cases or 1,123,584 bottles of wine in a week. Thirsty work.
The nature of the port means that what comes through our gates must go straight back out and these impressive numbers have seen growing volumes of cargo departing on vessels. On the last day of alert level 4, Port Nelson stevedores loaded the regions’ export containers on to the Moana Chief as they do week on week as part of Pacifica’s weekly coastal service. This week however, the 1740 TEU vessel left Port Nelson at its fullest capacity to date, 1030 TEU. A massive effort from port stevedores and exporters across the region, who continue to meet demand in these testing times.
As we launch into the new realm of alert level 3 and the port restarts log and processed wood operations, the team in Nelson and Picton are pulling out all the stops to get the forestry industry moving again and hopefully breaking some volume records.