Story: Freight and warehousing

Page 7. The 2000s

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Road transport moved most freight within New Zealand in the 2000s. The cost of freight in New Zealand was relatively high, largely due to the scattered settlement and length of the country. Shipping maintained its overwhelming dominance of international freight movement.

National freight flows

The Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, in which New Zealand’s population and industry are concentrated, were the source or destination of over half of all road and rail freight. Canterbury, the largest region by area, was the only other region to be the source or destination of more than 10% of freight.

In the pipeline


Pipelines carrying petroleum, gas and ironsand are a small but important part of New Zealand’s freight system. A third of the output from the Marsden Point oil refinery was carried by pipeline to Auckland. Almost all of New Zealand’s natural gas is distributed by pipeline around the North Island. Ironsand is carried to the Glenbrook steel mill and, from Taharoa, out to waiting ships to be transported overseas.


International freight flows

Like national freight, international freight movements were concentrated in the north of the North Island. Tauranga was the main export port in terms of both tonnage (26%) and value (25%) in the year to June 2007.

Whangārei was the main import port in terms of weight (28.5%); much of this was oil. The value of imports unloaded at Auckland’s port was highest – 50% of the total. Virtually all cargo imported by air arrived in Auckland.


Pollution generated by freight transport includes noise, exhaust emissions including particulates, and heavy-metal and petrol pollution of harbours and stormwater systems.

In the 2000s the issue of climate change focused attention on the use of fossil fuels and production of greenhouse gases. Heavy road freight vehicles were responsible for approximately 30% of New Zealand’s total transport energy use. A typical truck used 30,000 litres of fuel a year, and travelled 500,000 kilometres.

By 2020 the amount of freight carried in New Zealand is expected to be almost double that carried in 2005. Higher weight limits for road transport, expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of freight, were successfully trialled in 2008. The use of coastal shipping to relieve pressure on road freight was also investigated.

Freight on the internet

Internet-based freight brokerage became available in 2000 with the introduction of online logistics systems. Freight companies and shippers were able to get a ‘real-time’ view of freight movements and available space.


Warehousing follows population, so much of New Zealand’s warehousing was in the Auckland region. The pattern of storage and warehousing was increasingly complex, involving trans-shipping depots, warehouses, and one-to-one and many-to-one flows.

How to cite this page:

Matthew Wright and Megan Cook , 'Freight and warehousing - The 2000s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 June 2024)

Story by Matthew Wright and Megan Cook , published 11 Mar 2010