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

Bell Gully

Bell Gully is a highly reputable transport practice with New Zealand’s most significant companies and operators such as Air New Zealand and Auckland Transport on its books. Wellingston based Andrew Beatson is a key figure in the resource management and infrastructure, having advised Port Marlborough and KiwiRail on a major proposed redevelopment of the Picton Ferry. Hugh Kettle focuses on major infrastructure projects and banking transactions, such as the Auckland Transport on the AMETI Eastern Busway Alliance. In Auckland, Natasha Garvan assists with environmental, policy and resource management.

Practice head(s):

Hugh Kettle; Andrew Beatson

Other key lawyers:

Natasha Garvan


Key clients

Air New Zealand

Auckland Transport

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency

City Rail Limited

Port Marlborough


Tainui Group

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, and the first of its kind in respect of establishing an interrelated transport network in multiple areas.
  • Advised City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) (a special purpose vehicle) and its predecessor AT on all aspects of this project, including securing designations, the regional consenting appeals and we continue to act on a range of alterations to the designations for the City Rail Link (CRL).
  • Advised Tainui Group Holdings on a nationally-significant and highly 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.

Buddle Findlay

With offices in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, Buddle Findlay's transport team has a broad coverage and to undertake nationally significant projects such as Auckland Transport’s City Rail Link project and on the proposed new Te Ahu a Turanga highway, working Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Paul Beverley is a recognised expert in infrastructure projects, and advising on Māori law issues, including those relating to transport projects. Auckland based national chair Jennifer Caldwell  regularly acts for local authorities on environment and resource management issues. She is ably supported by a team consisting of Tom Bennett on procurement and construction, Vanessa Evitt  and senior associate Mathew Gribben on local government and regional infrastructure developments. Patrick Mulligan left the practice.

Practice head(s):

Paul Beverley;


‘Highly collaborative working in an integrated way alongside the project team’.

‘Jennifer Caldwell is an outstanding partner who is solution-focused and highly dedicated.’

Key clients

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Auckland Transport

Auckland Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hutt City Council


Kapiti Coast District Council

Work highlights

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan’ top full-service transport department is involved in major PPP projects, and is distinguished as the only law firm on both the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport panels. Auckland office managing partner and real estate specialists Matthew Ockleston  worked with Paul Buetow , Christina Sheard and Nicky McIndoe  in assisting NZ Transport Agency on the Northern Corridor Improvements Project, which connects State Highway 1 with State Highway 18, and involves the construction of an the extension of the Northern Busway and a network of shared walking and cycling. In Wellington, McIndoe leads the national environment and planning Team, and her work focuses on the Resource Management Act, heritage, conservation, public works, and local government legislation relevant to infrastructure.

Key clients

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency

Ministry of Social Development

Grand Complex Properties Limited

Universal Homes Limited

Pro-Invest Group

Tāmaki Regeneration Limited

PMG Capital





Work highlights

  • Acted for Waka Kotahi from development of the Business Case through to the current construction process for the NCI Project and the new Rosedale Bus Station.
  • The SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway project is an upgraded 22km four-lane corridor that will improve transport connections between Auckland and Whangārei. Advising Waka Kotahi on a number of complex legal matters including the consenting strategy, the impacts of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on all matters relating to environmental and planning approvals and land acquisition, as part of the SH58 project, which involves the construction of safety improvements on SH58, a regional route north of Wellington.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh’s team climbs the rankings owing to its breadth and depth in the transportation sector. The is regularly instructed by Advising Auckland International Airport on a planning, regulatory control provisions of the Commerce Act, and on process and methodologies for establishing airport landing charges. On the shipping side, the team have specialist maritime law expertise a history acting for port operators, with Ports of Auckland and Cook Straight ferry operator, InterIslander, being among its key clients, seeking advise on chartering and drydocking arrangements and ports / berths access. Key partners in Auckland include Daniel Minhinnick, the national chair of Environment, Planning and Natural Resources group and Allison Arthur-Young, who specialises in development and large-scale infrastructure projects, along with district and regional planning, and policy matters.

Key clients

Auckland International Airport Limited

Panuku Development Auckland Limited

Infratil Limited

KiwiRail Holdings Limited

New Zealand Airports Association

Ports of Auckland Limited

Fullers Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising KiwiRail on the environmental approvals required for the project, Intermodal Freight Hub, which is being developed near Palmerston North.
  • Advising Stevenson Group (through its subsidiary Drury South Limited) on a comprehensive industrial and mixed use development in Drury South. Represented Stevenson Group throughout the plan change process to enable the industrial development and the incorporation of those provisions into the Auckland Unitary Plan, as well as the creation of the Residential Precinct through streamlined special legislation.
  • Advising Auckland Airport on the suite of planning approvals required to enable the development of a longer second runway at Auckland Airport.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson transportation expertise spans all areas from the planning, funding, construction and ongoing operations, alongside long standing reputation working on major projects in the Auckland region including AMETI, the Waterview Connection and the new East-West Link. Working primarily with government entities, practice head Gerald Lanning is working with real estate partners Michael Wood and Nick Wilson on Auckland Transport’s in acquisition of the properties required for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative project, a group of projects including new roads, bus lanes, cycleways and park and ride facilities in south east Auckland. Infrastructure lawyers Michael Weatherall and Michael Sage are also highly recommended, as is special counsel Lisa Curran on construction matters.

Practice head(s):

Gerald Lanning

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

Work highlights

  • Auckland Council is conducting the renewal of the Northcote Town Centre on Auckland’s North Shore. We have advised over time on the strategy for achieving this using statutory powers under the Public Works Act. We are now instructed on the acquisition of all remaining properties to enable this vision to be given effect to, including advising on the compulsory acquisition process and compensation issues.
  • Worked 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.
  • Assisted Auckland Council / Panuku Development Auckland (as applicant) in obtaining consents for the necessary infrastructure to enable Auckland to hold the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.

Anthony Harper

Leading Christchurch transport and logistics practice Anthony Harper advised global freight forwarder, Hellmann on its aircraft charter and block space purchase agreements with Air New Zealand for the carriage of freight, a novel arrangement introduced in response to COVID-19 lockdown and the lack of passenger aircraft for freight transport. Key contact Chris Dann 'provides very high quality advice' and is an expert in the logistics and shipping sector.  

Practice head(s):

Chris Dann


‘Detailed knowledge of the Port and Maritime industry. Significant history of providing legal advice and support in this specialist area. This includes international transactions for sale and purchase of expensive equipment.’

‘Chris Dann provides very high quality advice and has a high attention to detail.’

Key clients


Auckland International Airport

CentrePort Limited

China Eastern Airways

Emergent Cold

First Global Logistics

GCH Aviation

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

Hilton Haulage

Kings Transport and Logistics

Kuehne + Nagel

Lyttelton Port Company Limited


Work highlights

  • Advised Hilton Haulage on the establishment of its global logistics and freight forwarding business division.
  • Prepared, advised on and negotiated a range of template and bespoke port and logistics services agreements for Lyttelton Port Company Limited, the largest port in New Zealand’s South Island.
  • Acted for Rhenus Group on the purchase of shares in three separate companies comprising Malcolm Total Logistics Group. Malcolm Logistics operated from multiple sites, and its operations included international freight forwarding, third party logistics, agency importing and customs clearance, and dangerous goods management and training.

Hesketh Henry

Focusing on shipping and logistics, Hesketh Henry is a reputable firm for transactional and contentious matters, many of them with an international element. Clients praise its 'strength in NZ admiralty law and practice as well as admiralty law in other jurisdictions'. Dual qualified England and New Zealand maritime lawyer Simon Cartwright  is 'able to offer practical advice and solutions'; he works alongside Alan Sherlock, a specialist in marine insurance, and transactional lawyer Ruth Allcoat.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cartwright

Other key lawyers:

Alan Sherlock ; Ruth Allcoat


‘Strength in NZ admiralty law and practice as well as admiralty law in other jurisdictions like UK and UAE.’

‘Approachable and clear communications International knowledge Practical and pragmatic advice.’

‘Reliable, knowledgeable, contactable and responsive.’

‘Simon Cartwright, knowledgeable in maritime and insurance law; able to offer practical advice and solutions.’

Key clients

Charterers P&I Club

TPT Shipping Limited (in administration)


Work highlights

  • Instructed by the Charterers P&I Club and its assured TPT Shipping Ltd, for its assured TPT Shipping Ltd to respond to a number of claims made by vessel operators in relation to letters of indemnity. The claims involved numerous law firms and proceedings in England, New Zealand and Singapore. The claims were high value and involved a challenging interplay between commercial maritime law and domestic and international insolvency regulations.
  • Defending our client against a claim, an  international shipping liner company by New Zealand cargo owners / insurers in the New Zealand High Court, following the alleged total loss of an export cargo of frozen fish to Europe.
  • Instructed by the owner of a heritage Camper & Nicholson yacht (built 1980) who claims against the repair yard that carried out work to replace the anti-fouling on the hull in 2013. The dispute relates to liability for damage to the hull and alleged negligence by the repair yard.

Chapman Tripp

Practice head(s):

John Knight


MinterEllisonRuddWatts have extensive expertise assisting constructors, developers and government bodies through all stages of the project lifecycle. Aviation, ports and maritime infrastructure are a core source of work, demonstrated by its work with Ports of Auckland on funding, procurement and construction of the Hydrogen Demonstration Facility, the first of its kind in the country. Key figures in the Auckland based team include Sarah Sinclair, Mark Forman, Tom Fail and senior associate James Dow, who is dual New Zealand and England and Wales qualified.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Sinclair; Tom Fail


‘The firm is highly responsive, commercially attuned and has strong industry knowledge. Its focus is on substantial matters and the practice integrates seamlessly with our team.’

‘Highly responsive and commercially attuned with strong industry knowledge. They focus on substantial matters and are integrated seamlessly with our team.’

Key clients

Ministry of Transport

Ports of Auckland

NZ Bus

Project NEXT (acting for public transport authorities and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Authority)

Ritchies Transport Holdings

Go Bus

Wilson Harle

Historically known for its maritime practice, Wilson Harle is instructed on contentious cases, namely arrest matters, cargo claims and contract disputes, by vessel owners, port companies, international carriers and their insurers or P&I Clubs. Auckland based litigator Felicity Monteiro is assisted by senior associate Kerryn Webster.

Practice head(s):

Felicity Monteiro

Other key lawyers:

Kerryn Webster


‘Felicity Monteiro is an excellent lawyer, very responsible and quickly reacted.’

Key clients

Cargill Ocean Transportation (Singapore) Pte

The Standard Club HK

Pequod Associate

Work highlights

  • Acted for Cargill Ocean Transportation (Singapore)  in relation to in rem claims brought against vessels visiting New Zealand for alleged misdelivery of cargo. An application has been made for a stay of the proceeding and referral to arbitration.
  • Acted for The Standard Club HK, the charterers of the vessel TS Index, which had been arrested in New Zealand on the basis of a claim for misdelivery of cargo. Our client applied for a stay of the NZ proceeding on the basis of an arbitration clause, which was obtained by consent.
  • Acting for Pequod Associates (Singapore),  a Singaporean insurer in a subrogated claim against a New Zealand freight handler for misdelivering goods (without original bills of lading).