Transport (rail, road, air and sea) in New Zealand

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay’s transport practice stands out for its capability in large-scale national projects, as evidenced by its ongoing advice to Auckland Transport and Auckland Council on the City Rail Link infrastructure project. The multidisciplinary team is well-placed to handle a broad range of matters, from transport regulation and policy, resource management and construction to commercial and procurement issues. National chair and environmental litigator Jennifer Caldwell, who operates from the firm’s Auckland office, jointly leads the practice alongside Wellington-Based Paul Beverley, who is noted for his expertise in major infrastructure projects and Māori law issues relating to transport projects. Also in the Auckland office, Tom Bennett focuses on procurement and construction mandates, while Vanessa Evitt advises on consenting projects. Wellington-based David Allen and David Randal are further key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Paul Beverley; Jennifer Caldwell

Other key lawyers:

Vanessa Evitt; Tom Bennett; David Allen; David Randal


‘The team has strong depth, capacity and experience, is responsive and proactive, providing advice which is appropriate, incisive and commercially sensible.’

‘Tom Bennett has a deep understanding of this area and has extensive experience in leading numerous significant public transport procurement and associated projects including rail, ferry and bus services, rail and bus vehicles and ferries. He is diligent and provides timely, commercially astute and pragmatic, strategic advice.’

‘Safe pair of hands, stellar advice and great leadership. The best in the business.’

Key clients

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Auckland Transport

Auckland Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hutt City Council


Kapiti Coast District Council

Whanganui District Council

Whakatane District Council

Wellington International Airport

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Transport and Auckland Council on the City Rail Link (CRL) project, with a projected completion cost of NZ$4.4bn.
  • Acting for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport as legal participants in the Supporting Growth Alliance, a five-seven year programme of work to identify and obtain route protection approvals for new and upgraded transport networks throughout greater Auckland.
  • Advising the Riverlink Partners to deliver a series of critical infrastructure upgrades and urban renewal for the Lower Hutt central city.

Dentons Kensington Swan

The multidisciplinary infrastructure practice at Dentons Kensington Swan has demonstrable experience in large-scale public-private partnerships (PPPs), counting New Zealand transport agencies, including Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, as well as local public authorities among its key roster of clients. In the firm’s Auckland office, managing partner Matthew Ockleston, who is praised for his ‘deep public works knowledge’, jointly leads the team alongside construction partner Paul Buetow and Wellington-based Nicky McIndoe, who advises on infrastructure projects and issues relating to the Resources Management Act. In Auckland, other key contacts in the team include Stuart Robertson, who has considerable experience in the construction and infrastructure sectors, and specialist resource management partner Christina Sheard.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Ockleston; Paul Buetow; Nicky McIndoe

Other key lawyers:

Christina Sheard; Stuart Robertson


‘The Dentons transport team is unique in that they have the pre-eminent public works act (compulsory land acquisition) practice in New Zealand. They are highly competent across the whole spectrum of transport requirements, consenting, contractual advice and general property queries, but their public works proficiency is where they truly shine.’

‘It is quite likely that no one in New Zealand has more public works act knowledge or experience than Matthew Ockleston. Matthew is a trusted advisor for our business, and always provides timely, considered and knowledgeable advice. Matthew’s long standing experience in this area of law in New Zealand makes him the trusted authority nationwide for a variety of clients. He marries this technical expertise with a calm and methodical manner that ensures good results time and again.’

‘Dentons has a great client-based focus, taking time to understand your drivers and key concerns.’

‘Matthew Ockleston has deep public works knowledge and provides excellent practical advice.’

Key clients

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency

Let’s Get Wellington Moving


Airways New Zealand

Te Waihanga NZ Infrastructure Commission

Hawke’s Bay Airport Limited

Auckland Transport

Downer New Zealand

CentrePort Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Waka Kotahi on the Northern Corridor Improvements Project, including in the construction process for the road project and new bus station.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on 20Connect, a joint programme between Waka Kotahi, Auckland Transport and Auckland International Airport, which forms part of a wider Southwest Gateway programme.
  • Advised Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency on its LGWM programme and development of the Indicative Business Cases for all aspects of the programme.

Russell McVeagh

Praised for its ‘impressive understanding of all aspects of air transport’, Russell McVeagh ‘offers a great depth of expertise’ across the transport sector, advising on large-scale road and rail infrastructure projects for a number of national airport and port operators - including the Ports of Auckland and Auckland International Airport - among others. In the firm’s Auckland office, national chair of the environment, planning and natural resources group, Daniel Minhinnick, jointly leads the practice alongside Wellington-based Mei Fern Johnson, who focuses on commercial contracting, M&A transactions and investment in (and procurement of) infrastructure, transport and energy projects. Other key members of the team include Allison Arthur-Young, who handles development and infrastructure projects, as well as district and regional planning matters, and Simon Pilkinton, who is noted for his experience in the water, municipal waste and port sectors. Both partners operate from the firm’s Auckland office.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Minhinnick; Mei Fern Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Allison Arthur-Young; Simon Pilkinton; Craig Shrive; Tim Clarke


‘The RMV team has long-established and impressive understanding of all aspects of air transport, with particular strengths in terms of resource management/environmental considerations, regulatory pricing, health and safety and corporate.’

‘Tim Clarke is a go-to lawyer.’

‘Russell McVeagh offers a great depth of expertise in commercial legal advice generally and in respect of the public sector transport industry specifically.’

‘Mei Fern Johnson is exceptional. She has the patience to hear matters out in detail and always responds with great acuity and clarity. She invariably brings in associates with precisely the right expertise to deliver services, often on an unenviably tight timeframe and with the minimum of fuss or unnecessary distraction.’

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Panuku Development Auckland Limited

Infratil Limited

KiwiRail Holdings Limited

New Zealand Airports Association

Ports of Auckland Limited

NZ Post

NZ Green Investment Finance

SG Fleet

Stevenson Group

Precinct Properties

Howick and Eastern Coach Services

Ports CEO Group

Bank of New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Advised Ports of Auckland Limited on their proposal to deepen part of the Waitematā Harbour and Rangitoto Channel over 35 years, with the staged removal and relocation of up to 2.5 million m3 of material.
  • Advised Auckland Airport on the suite of planning approvals required to enable the development of a longer second runway at Auckland Airport.
  • Advising KiwiRail on its acquisition of two large purpose-built passenger and freight rail ferries for KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry division, and redevelop the ferry terminals at Centreport in Wellington and Port Marlborough in Picton, part of a $1.45bn investment programme.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson’s Auckland-based practice advises on the full lifecycle of large-scale transport and infrastructure projects in New Zealand, from planning, funding and procurement to delivery and ongoing operations. The team’s capability is demonstrated by its advice to Auckland Transport and the Eastern Busway Alliance on resource consent applications, Notices of Requirements and the acquisition of land relating to the development of the Eastern Busway Project. Environmental and resource management partner Bill Loutit leads the practice and handles infrastructure and urban renewal projects, while Michael Wood acts for local authorities and is noted for his expertise in matters concerning the Public Works Act. Michael Weatherall and special counsel Lisa Curran are both recommended for construction matters. Consultant Gerald Lanning is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Bill Loutit

Other key lawyers:

Michael Wood; Michael Weatherall; Michael Sage; Lisa Curran; Nick Wilson; Gerald Lanning

Key clients

City Rail Link Ltd

Auckland Transport

Auckland Council

CPB Contractors Limited

Wellington City Council

Tauranga City Council

Queenstown Lakes District Council

Christchurch City Council

Toll Holdings

Transdev New Zealand

NZ Transport Agency

Port Nelson Ltd

Port of Napier Ltd

Watercare Services Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Transport and the Eastern Busway Alliance on resource consent applications, Notices of Requirements and the acquisition of land to enable the development of the Eastern Busway Project.
  • Acting as lead adviser for the City Rail Link (CRL) project, involving two 3.5 km rail tunnels and two underground railway stations for metro trains from the existing Britomart station up to Mt Eden station.
  • Advising Watercare on all aspects of the procurement and construction phases of the Central Interceptor Main Works project.

Anthony Harper

With ‘great knowledge of the port industry’, Anthony Harper’s Christchurch-based transport and logistics practice advises its roster of clients, including freight forwarders and carriers, ports and exporters, on a broad range of matters, from aircraft charter agreements and shipping contracts to regulatory advice, cargo loss and damage claims. Praised for his ‘commercial nous and practical knowledge of the transport sector and legislation’, practice leader Chris Dann handles mandates relating to domestic and international carriage of goods, freight forwarding and logistics, vessel procurement, and supply and distribution arrangements, among others. Dann frequently collaborates with other teams across the firm on transport and logistics matters, involving health and safety, construction and finance issues, as well as litigation.

Practice head(s):

Chris Dann


‘Great knowledge of the port industry. Also, significant knowledge of the law around international contracting and sale and purchase agreement. Highly responsive to urgent requests for advice or action.’

‘We deal extensively with Chris Dann. He has an outstanding knowledge of the law concerning ports. He provides high quality services and is also extremely responsive.’

‘I have found the team to be extremely responsive, and they take care that their advice is pragmatic and pitched at the appropriate level.’

‘In addition to Chris’ commercial nous and practical knowledge of the transport sector and legislation, he has given great advice on how to approach a difficult commercial negotiation.’

Key clients


Ports of Auckland Limited

CentrePort Limited

Lineage Logistics

First Global Logistics

GCH Aviation

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

Hilton Haulage

Kings Transport and Logistics

Kuehne + Nagel

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

Mercedes-Benz Group AG

Port of Tauranga

Rhenus Logistics

Scales Storage and Logistics


Move Logistics

Work highlights

  • Advised Lyttelton Port Company Limited on the short-term wet hire of a tug vessel.
  • Advised Rhenus Logistics on the restructure and rebranding of the New Zealand division of their freight forwarding, logistics and warehousing business.
  • Advised Hellman Worldwide Logistics on a customer dispute regarding customs duty on goods exported from New Zealand and on contract documentation to address export control sanctions and the worldwide shipping and supply chain crisis.

Bell Gully

Bell Gully counts some of the most well-known New Zealand-based companies and operators in the transport sector among its key roster of clients. Following the retirement of Hugh Kettle in November 2021 and the departure of Andrew Beatson in July 2022, who left to recommence his practice as a barrister, Auckland-based Torrin Crowther now leads the team alongside David Chisnall, who operates from the Wellington office. Crowther also heads the firm’s competition law group and Chisnall is a key contact for real estate matters, as well as development and construction projects, including ports, transport and infrastructure. In Auckland, other key members of the team include Ian Becke and environmental and resource management specialist Natasha Garvan.

Practice head(s):

Torrin Crowther; David Chisnall

Other key lawyers:

Natasha Garvan; Ian Becke

Key clients

Air New Zealand

Auckland Transport

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency

City Rail Limited

Port Marlborough


Tainui Group Holdings

Tauranga City Council

Supporting Growth Alliance

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Transport (AT) and NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on Te Tupu Ngātahi (The Supporting Growth Alliance), the largest professional services alliance to be established in New Zealand.
  • Advising Port Marlborough New Zealand (PMNZ) on a number of projects, including the redevelopment of Port Picton, along with the development, reclamation and operational aspects of its proposed 240 berth extension to the existing Waikawa Bay Marina.
  • Advised Tainui Group Holdings on a strategic project to develop an inland port at Ruakura, including the joint venture agreement between TGH and Port Tauranga for development, construction and co-investment in the project, strategic negotiations with industrial and logistics tenants and providing ongoing advice on Tainui’s strategic interests.

Hesketh Henry

The Auckland-based practice at Hesketh Henry has demonstrable experience in the shipping and logistics sectors, and advises a diverse roster of cargo underwriters, port operators, commodities traders and logistics companies on transactional, regulatory, health and safety, and contentious matters – often involving an international element. Transport and trade law specialist Simon Cartwright is noted for his expertise in shipping, marine insurance, commodities and international debt recovery, and handles all types of maritime claims. Consultant Ruth Allcoat advises on commercial shipping and yachting clients on maritime transactions, and has experience in international ship financing matters. Alan Sherlock remains a key contact in the team.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cartwright

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Allcoat; Alan Sherlock


‘Very strong shipping expertise. Always responsive and deliver quality advice.’

‘Simon Cartwright has excellent industry knowledge and provides good quality advice in a timely manner.’

Key clients

Charterers P & I Club

Juken New Zealand Limited

Mediterranean Shipping Co

Vero Marine

Work highlights


    MinterEllisonRuddWatts provides a ‘flexible but consistent level of service’ to its roster of clients – including government bodies, constructors, developers and operators – on large-scale road and rail, port and maritime infrastructure projects. The practice has demonstrable capability in advising on the full lifecycle of a project, from funding and procurement to construction, delivery and ongoing operations. In the firm’s Auckland office, practice leader and infrastructure specialist Sarah Sinclair focuses on funding models, procurement strategies and contracting structures, and is frequently assisted by senior associate Jordan Oldham.

    Practice head(s):

    Sarah Sinclair

    Other key lawyers:

    Jordan Oldham


    ‘The practice provides a flexible but consistent level of service across the multiple partners and specialties.

    Key clients

    Wellington Gateway Partnership

    Ports of Auckland

    Ministry of Transport | Te Manatū Waka

    Waka Kotahi | New Zealand Transport Agency

    Ministry of Housing and Urban Development | Te Tūāpapa

    Kura Kāinga

    Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment | Hīkina


    Maritime New Zealand

    Z Energy

    NZ Bus

    Ritches Transport

    Fullers Group

    Work highlights

    • Advising the Ministry of Transport on the Auckland Light Rail project.
    • Advising Wellington Gateway Partnership (the PPP contractor) on all aspects of the 27km Transmission Gully motorway.
    • Advising Ports of Auckland on the legal, commercial, and strategic aspects of its Hydrogen Demonstration Project.

    Wilson Harle

    Wilson Harle’s well-established maritime group sits within the firm’s broader commercial litigation, public law and regulatory practices, and is noted for its expertise in contentious matters, pertaining to cargo and admiralty claims, arrest mandates and contract disputes. Counting vessel owners, port companies, international carriers and P&I clubs among its key roster of clients, Felicity Monteiro leads the team from the firm’s office in Auckland, and has demonstrable experience in cargo claims and admiralty proceedings.

    Practice head(s):

    Felicity Monteiro

    Other key lawyers:

    Kerryn Webster


    ‘Felicity Monteiro is a thorough and very capable lawyer. She has a good understanding of maritime law. When maritime issues arise a prompt and targeted response is generally required.’

    Key clients

    Cargill Ocean Transportation (Singapore) Pte Ltd

    The Standard Club HK

    Work highlights

    • Acted for Cargill Ocean Transportation (Singapore) Pte Ltd in an admiralty claim brought against it for cargo misdelivery and in its claim against a NZ company for indemnity.
    • Acted for The Standard Club HK in an admiralty claim brought against it for cargo misdelivery.