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

Bell Gully

Bell Gully has a long-standing transport practice and significant experience of aviation, road, rail and maritime matters. The firm advises leading airlines, government agencies, infrastructure developers and ports. It is also one of the key firms advising Te Tupu Ngātahi – the Supporting Growth Alliance – on route protection of the transportation network required to service the next 30 years of Auckland’s growth. Department leader Torrin Crowther in Auckland is a competition law specialist who advises key transport sector clients including Air New Zealand. Among the key partners in Wellington are resource management specialist Andrew Beatson and infrastructure expert Hugh  Kettle, who count Auckland Transport and NZ Transport Agency among their clients, and David Chisnall who handles the structuring, procurement and delivery of large-scale construction and development projects.

Practice head(s):

Torrin Crowther; Hugh Kettle; Andrew Beatson; David Chisnall

Other key lawyers:

Natasha Garvan

Key clients

Air New Zealand

New Zealand Transport Agency

Auckland Transport

Centre Port Properties Limited

Port Marlborough New Zealand Limited

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company

Work highlights

  • Advised Air New Zealand and Air China on a strategic alliance.
  • Acted for the Transport Agency in relation to Transmission Gully Motorway.
  • Advised New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) on the procurement of the Pūhoi to Warkworth motorway.
  • Advising Auckland Transport (AT) on a wide array of strategic local, regional and national transport planning issues, including the development and procurement of Auckland region-wide public transport services and infrastructure.
  • Advising Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency on Te Tupu Ngātahi (the Supporting Growth Alliance), as part of the Alliance legal team, on route protection of the transportation network required to service the next 30 years of Auckland’s growth.

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay's advises clients in the transport sector on regulation and policy, resource management, property, construction, commercial and procurement issues, and employment law. Its acts for both private and public sector clients, and is one of three firms on the panel of the New Zealand Transport Agency, which is responsible for delivery state highway projects. In addition, it assists numerous district and regional councils with a wide range of legal matters related to local road and other transport networks. Firm chair Paul Beverley in Wellington and resource management partner Pat Mulligan in Auckland lead the practice, which hired leading light Tom Bennett from Bell Gully. Bennett has almost 20 years' experience in advising key clients Auckland Transport and Auckland Council on the procurement and development of public transport services and infrastructure. Former aviation contact Frank Porter left to launch Frank Porter Co in December 2018.

Practice head(s):

Paul Beverley; Patrick Mulligan

Other key lawyers:

David Allen; Jennifer Caldwell; David Randal; Tom Bennett; Vanessa Evitt; Mathew Gribben; Thaddeus Ryan


“I enjoy working with Buddle Findlay more than other firms as it is easy to work with, provides clear options for consideration when options are available, understands the client’s requirements, and acknowledges that not all decisions are based solely on particular legal matters. In my experience, they do not push their own views on the client as I have experienced some doing from other firms.”

“The individual people are all great to work with, and there are clear back-up personnel if the key contact is not available. I have greatly enjoyed working recently with Jennifer Caldwell, Vanessa Evitt and Mathew Gribben. I saw Patrick Mulligan leading at an Inquiry hearing, where he did an excellent job despite some very trying circumstances.”

“The team has extensive experience in public transport – ferry, rail and bus operation, funding and arrangements in the Auckland context – and a strong understanding of the client and its drivers and risks. Consequently the team is able to provide prompt, pragmatic, effective and legally robust advice.”

“Tom Bennett is a standout in this practice area, having a wealth of relevant experience and deep understanding of the applicable legislation, operating models and access arrangements. His understanding of the client organisation and its commercial and wider imperatives is coupled with a responsive, practical, helpful and efficient manner, which provides a strong value for money proposition.”

Key clients

New Zealand Transport Agency

Auckland Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hutt City Council


Auckland Transport

Work highlights

  • Acting as NZ Transport Agency’s legal adviser for the East West Link project linking state highway 20, state highway 1, the Onehunga-Penrose industrial hub and the Southdown road / rail hub.
  • Advising NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport on Supporting Growth, a five-year programme of work to obtain approvals for a new and upgraded transport network throughout greater Auckland to support and facilitate projected growth in new and existing suburbs over the next 30 years.
  • Advising NZ Transport Agency on Mt Messenger Bypass Project, a much-needed upgrade to the primary highway connection between the Taranaki and Waikato regions.
  • Acted for Auckland Council over a number of years in relation to the resource management approvals for the City Rail Link.
  • :egal advisers for the NZ Transport Agency, and prepared the Agency’s case to obtain the resource consents and designations necessary to construct the Petone to Grenada Link Road project.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan's national infrastructure practice brings together skills in includes construction and major projects, environment, planning and Property to assist with strategic transport projects throughout New Zealand. It is involved in the development of roads, ferry terminals, water reservoirs, bridges, public transport, cycling infrastructure and port infrastructure. The firm has played a key role in many PPPs undertaken in the New Zealand since 2010, and it is the only firm to be on the panel of both the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport. Infrastructure project specialist Paul Buetow and property partner Matthew Ockleston in Auckland and, in Wellington, environment and planning expert Nicky McIndoe lead the practice.

Practice head(s):

Paul Buetow; Matthew Ockleston; Nicky McIndoe

Other key lawyers:

Stuart Robinson

Key clients

NZ Transport Agency

Auckland Transport

Wellington Water Limited

Transpower New Zealand

ASB Bank

Goodman Property

Downer New Zealand

CPB Contractors/CIMIC

Leighs Construction

Ghella Limited

Hawkins 2017


Ministry of Social Development

Oji Fibre Solutions

Work highlights

  • Advising Orange Consortium comprising of CPB, United Group, Beca, Jacobs and McMillan Jacob on Auckland City Rail Link.
  • Advising the NZ Transport Agency on the NCI Project, which will complete the Western Ring Route in Auckland which is recognised as one of the seven ‘Roads of National Significance’ by the Government.
  • Advising the NZ Transport Agency on the Business Case for 20Connect, as well as the suite of designation alterations and resource consent applications for short term improvements to State Highway 20B.
  • Advising the NZ Transport Agency on the Whāngārei to Te Hana roading project, which is an important corridor upgrade on State Highway 1, required to support the transport objectives of ‘Connecting Northland’.
  • Advising the NZ Transport Agency on the LRCI Project, which includes widening the existing corridor on each side to provide two general traffic lanes plus a kerbside bus and high occupancy lane and associated bus stops, a cycle lane and footpath on each side of the road.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson in Auckland has a large transport infrastructure practice that handles high-profile road, rail and air projects. It draws on specialist expertise in  planning, design, procurement, property, funding, construction, and dispute resolution. Its recent work includes advising Auckland Transport on the procurement for the City Rail Link Main Works, which is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand. Local government and environment partner Gerald Lanning leads the infrastructure practice and focuses on  land transport management and policy. Property, local government, and infrastructure specialist Michael Wood and front-end infrastructure partner Michael Weatherall are leading lights in the transport sector. Up-and-coming construction partner Lisa Curran is regarded as 'by far the most experienced lawyer in New Zealand for rail construction contracts'.

Practice head(s):

Gerald Lanning

Other key lawyers:

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


“Simpson Grierson’s transport practice and construction practice sets itself in a high regard in the New Zealand construction law industry due to its depth of expertise and experience. There is a consistently high level of expertise amongst the legal team, as opposed to other firms which may have one or two really excellent lawyers in the construction space but then they’re supported by a bunch of juniors.”

“The firm has a lot of lawyers functioning at a high level of expertise meaning that even if they are busy, they can accommodate taking on additional work as they have the resources and capability within the team. Specifically for transport, they have more in-depth experience in rail than any other law firm in New Zealand.”

“Michael Weatherall and Lisa Curran are streaks ahead of their competitors.”

“Having been an engineer prior to being a lawyer, Michael Weatherall has the respect of the engineers and executives, as well as the lawyers. He speaks their language and can address the legal issues both from a technical legal viewpoint and a technical operational, engineering viewpoint. He stands out from his counterparts for this reason.”

“Lisa Curran is our ‘go-to’ lawyer for infrastructure and construction contracts due to her pragmatic and commercial advice and her ability to meet deadlines. She has been the principal legal advisor on three of the largest infrastructure projects being procured in New Zealand this past year.”

Key clients

City Rail Link Ltd

Auckland Transport

Auckland Council

Fletcher Residential Limited

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

Work highlights

  • Continuing to act for Auckland Transport in the acquisition of the properties required for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) project, which includes the construction of new roads, bus lanes, and park and ride facilities.
  • Advising Auckland Council on the acquisition of properties, and associated matters, connected with the renewal of the Northcote Town Centre on Auckland’s North Shore.
  • Acting for Transdev (originally as Connex and then as Veolia Transport) since it first entered the NZ public transport market in 2004, with its contract to operate passenger rail services for (now) Auckland Transport.
  • Advising CPB Contractors Limited on the Transmission Gully project, which involves a $1billion+ public-private partnership for the design, construction, operation and maintenance for 25 years of a 27 km four-lane highway from MacKays Crossing to Linden, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Advising on the New Zealand Transport Agency’s acquisition programme and advised on compensation negotiations in relation to several of the stages including the Longswamp, Tamahere Interchange, Ngaruawahia and Hamilton Sections.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper's logistics and transport practice has a specialist, multi-disciplinary team with in-depth knowledge of multi-modal shipping. In this area, the firm provides a full-service offering to the industry, dealing with both contentious and non-contentious issues, which encompasses work on port services arrangements including marine services, stevedoring, provedoring, container depot and cargo handling services; the procurement of fuel, tug and pilot vessels and major container and cargo handling equipment; transportation, warehousing and distribution and supply chain agreements; and freight forwarding contractual arrangements. Chris Dann in Christchurch leads the practice and he has more than 19 years' experience in the logistics, transport and shipping sectors, as well as in-house experience at the Exel Plc, which was then the world's largest logistics company.

Practice head(s):

Chris Dann

Other key lawyers:

Megan Compton; Matt Smith; Jordan Wright; Shanti Niven; Chantal Stewart

Key clients

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

CentrePort Limited

Auckland International Airport

Toll New Zealand

Hilton Haulage

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics


Kuehne + Nagel

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics

Mercedes- Benz New Zealand

Ports of Auckland


Scales Storage and Logistics

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

China Eastern Airlines

Kings Transport & Logistics

Daimler AG

Work highlights

  • Advised Synlait on its arrangements with NZX and ASX listed dairy company The A2 Milk Company for the transportation of canned infant formula from New Zealand to Australia.
  • Lead advisor to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on its long-term project to meet NZ’s International Energy Agency treaty obligations by tendering and contracting for domestic and international oil companies (including the oil majors) to hold petroleum reserves for the Government.
  • Acting for Lyttelton Port Company in relation to the procurement of a new Azimuth Stern Drive Tug vessel from Singaporean headquartered, multi-national shipbuilding and marine services group, ASL Marine.
  • Acted for CentrePort Limited on a series of port services agreements with major international shipping companies and container leasing companies.
  • Acted for Hilton Haulage, a leading New Zealand supplier of transport and storage facilities, on the preparation and negotiation of the foundation documents of Tulloch Hilton LP, a limited partnership joint venture with Tulloch Milk Logistics Limited.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp has a broad-ranging transport practice that handles the funding, procurement and establishment of road, rail, sea and air transport infrastructure for government agencies, airports, port companies and shipping operators. Among its clients are the New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland International Airport, Queenstown Airport Corporation, Christchurch International Airport and Lyttelton Port Company. It draws on the experience of its environment and resource management specialist Jo Appleyard in Christchurch and, in Auckland, Paula Brosnahan and Catherine Somerville-Frost. Litigator John Knight is recognised as a leading expert in insurance, maritime law and resource management disputes.

Hesketh Henry

Hesketh Henry in Auckland has a dedicated transport and trade practice that acts for clients in the maritime, logistics and commodities sectors. Its range of services includes employment, health and safety, insurance, property and regulatory issues, as well as transportation contracts and disputes. The firm also acts for international shipping clients, particularly those based in Singapore and the Middle East. Simon Cartwright focuses on marine insurance, charterparty disputes, shipbuilding and repair, transactional shipping and international trade, while leading marine insurance partner Alan Sherlock focuses on cargo, hull and equipment damage claims. The firm recently hired consultant Ruth Allcoat from HFW, where she built up extensive transactional maritime experience for both commercial shipping and yachting clients.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cartwright; Alan Sherlock

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Allcoat


“The team offers a more personal service, tailored to the specific needs of its clients and at competitive rates.”

“Simon Cartwright is my first choice for shipping matters – he has considerable experience in the area and takes a highly commercial and pragmatic approach, focused on problem solving and resolution. He is responsive and extremely approachable.”

Key clients


Charterers P & I Club


Holcim Lafarge


Shipowners Mutual P & I Club

Standard P & I Club

Vero Marine

Work highlights

  • Acting for superyacht owners and its subrogated international marine insurers in a claim in the New Zealand High Court against New Zealand based manufacturers of carbon fibre masts.
  • Advised the GPI (a branch of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office) on the long term charter of the Bravo Supporter, including refit, from Norwegian owners, for the carriage of passengers and freight from / to the Pitcairn Islands.
  • Advising property developer Kahawai Point Developments Ltd and local iwi on this project in South West Auckland.
  • Advising a P&I Club and its NZ assureds on disputes with shipowners, stevedores and suppliers in relation to stevedore damage to a vessel during loading of logs in NZ.
  • Representing a New Zealand-based international P&I Club in proceedings against the Club in Sharjah, UAE.


Maritime law, transport law and dispute resolution services are core elements of the practice at Lowndes in Auckland, which acts for ship operators and other transport operators and their insurers. It also advises clients in the luxury boat and aviation sectors, and assists with commercial matters such as ship sale and purchase and re-flagging. For the last eight years, much of leading light Michael McCarthy's practice was focused on the extensive litigation and commercial work spinning out of the Rena shipwreck, which was one of the largest pieces of litigation ever seen in New Zealand and the second largest salvage operation in the world. McCarthy is one of the most experienced shipping lawyers in New Zealand, and he is supported by litigation principal Tim Jeffcott.

Practice head(s):

Michael McCarthy

Other key lawyers:

Tim Jeffcott

Key clients

P&I Services New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Led the complex Rena Shipwreck matter, where we advise the owners of the Rena Shipwreck and its P&I and hull insurers (The Swedish Club), on all issues arising from the largest ever maritime incident to have occurred on the New Zealand Coast, and the second most expensive wreck removal operation ever in the world (behind the Costa Concordia).

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh has a broad transport practice, covering airport and port operators, rail and road transport. The firm counts Ports of Auckland, Auckland International Airport and KiwiRail among its clients. Chair of the firm's environment, planning and natural resources group Daniel Minhinnick in Auckland and Wellington-based Mei Fern Johnson lead the practice. The firm has a long track record of acting for leading national and international airlines, as well as domestic airports; assisting port operators and maritime clients with projects and commercial matters; and advising on the development of major road and rail projects across New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Minhinnick; Mei Fern Johnson

Other key lawyers:

Allison Arthur-Young; Craig Shrive; Simon Pilkinton

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Panuku Development Auckland Limited

Infratil Limited


NZ Airports Association

Ports of Auckland Limited

Drury South Limited

NZ Transport Agency

Fullers Limited

Bus and Coach Association

Mana Coach Services

Howick and Eastern Coach Services

Queenstown Airport Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisting Auckland International Airport Limited to obtain approvals for its proposed second runway expansion.
  • Assisting Panuku Development Auckland Limited with the consenting of the upgrade of Queens Wharf in Auckland to enable visits by extra large cruise ships.
  • Advising Infratil on the sale of the largest bus services operator in NZ, being sale of the NZ Bus group, which provides public and private bus services in Auckland, Wellington and Tauranga.
  • Advising the NCTIR alliance for rebuild of Main North Line railway and State Highway One following the Kaikoura earthquake.
  • Advising KiwiRail on matters relating the City Rail Link project.

Wilson Harle

Wilson Harle has a four-partner team in which Felicity Monteiro is the key contact for the firm's dedicated admiralty and maritime law practice. Partners Chris Browne, Allison Ferguson and Ian Denton, as well as rising star senior associate Kerryn Webster, provide litigation, public law and regulatory expertise to support Monteiro in acting for vessel owners, port companies, international carriers and their insurers or P&I Clubs. Webster is the immediate past New Zealand Vice-President of the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand and is a current committee member of the New Zealand Branch. Monteiro played a key role in the establishment of a New Zealand branch of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association.

Practice head(s):

Chris Browne; Allison Ferguson; Ian Denton; Felicity Monteiro

Other key lawyers:

Kerryn Webster

Key clients

LexisNexis NZ Ltd

North of England P&I Club