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

Bell Gully

Bell Gully is 'an excellent firm with practical, pragmatic and empathetic lawyers throughout their organisation'. The firm involves partners from many specialist practice areas to advise clients in the transport sector. The work focuses on every aspect of relevant law from competition to projects and construction law. The key partners are practice head and competition specialist Torrin Crowther in Auckland, along with Wellington-based projects specialists Hugh Kettle and Andrew Beatson, and commercial property partner David Chisnall. Environment and resource management partner Natasha Garvan in Auckland is also recommended.

Other key lawyers:

Natasha Garvan


‘Bell Gully are an excellent firm, with practical, pragmatic and empathetic lawyers throughout their organisation. This was particularly evident through Covid-19 lockdown where the firm made a particularly nice decision to provide frequent and relevant updates on the unfolding legal issues – rent relief, restructuring the workforce and corporate governance generally. The information was provided gratis on their website, and was an excellent way to provide relevant and helpful information during a particularly difficult period.’

‘The Auckland market isn’t short of good lawyers, but Bell Gully has a particular style and culture of pragmatism, engagement and excellence that I haven’t found elsewhere.’

‘Torrin Crowther tends to have a very good overview of the freight market generally. He is proactive in engaging on developing issues and helpful in formulating a strategic approach both to his practice area – competition law – and to resourcing work within Bell Gully to any particular issues that emerge from our business.’

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 Napier Port Holdings, the issuer under the IPO, and also advised Hawke’s Bay Regional Council as the selling shareholder.
  • 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). The firm is also acting for CRLL on contentious aspects of land acquisitions for the CRL project.

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay has one of the largest and most diverse transport practices in New Zealand, bringing together specialist expertise in environmental, resource management and Māori law expertise, along with a deep bench of corporate, commercial, finance, banking and competition lawyers with experience in the sector. Their work ranges from advice on transport regulation and policy to project development, construction, procurement and employment matters. Resource management partners Paul Beverley in Wellington and Patrick Mulligan in Auckland lead the 31-lawyer practice, which spans all three of the firm's offices. Auckland-based litigator Jennifer Caldwell and resource management and environment specialist Tom Bennett are also heavily involved in transport projects.

Practice head(s):

Paul Beverley; Patrick Mulligan

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Caldwell; Tom Bennett

Key clients

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Auckland Transport

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hutt City Council


Auckland Council

Work highlights

  • Acting as legal participants in the Supporting Growth programme which is a planning Alliance with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, Aecom, Beca and Bell Gully. The Supporting Growth programme is a five-seven-year programme of work to identify and obtain approvals for a new and upgraded transport network throughout greater Auckland to support and facilitate projected growth in the Greenfields growth areas over the next 30 years. The Supporting Growth programme is valued at NZ$8bn-$10bn (as of Nov 2018).
  • Acting for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport on the City Rail Link (CRL) project which is New Zealand’s largest infrastructure project. The firm has advised on the project alliance agreement and related governance arrangements between Auckland Transport, KiwiRail, City Rail Link Limited and the Link Alliance. CRL is New Zealand’s largest infrastructure project by value (projected completion cost of NZ$4.4 billion) the first underground railway project in New Zealand, and is also contractually complex.
  • Acting for Auckland Transport on its open-market tender for a long-term Auckland public transport rail services franchise contract. The firm was appointed (together with Allens Linklaters, Melbourne) as legal advisers to Auckland Transport, advising on all aspects of the procurement process. This is a significant and important matter for Auckland Transport, given the importance of the rail network for the future growth of Auckland and the deal value in excess of NZ$1bn over the contract term.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has a deep multi-disciplinary practice that assists key players in the transport sector on major projects. The firm's work encompasses construction, environment, planning corporate, banking and property matters. The infrastructure group, which has extensive experience in PPP projects, has a diverse client base that includes design and construction contractors, facilities maintenance contractors, equity funders and government bodies. It is particularly well known for its in-depth knowledge of the Public Works Act and the processes for the acquisition of land and assessment of compensation. The three lead partners are real estate expert Matthew Ockleston and infrastructure partner Paul Buetow in Auckland, and planning and environment specialist Nicky McIndoe in Wellington.

Key clients

New Zealand Transport Agency

Ministry of Social Development

Grand Complex Properties Limited

Universal Homes Limited

Pro-Invest Group

Tāmaki Regeneration Limited

PMG Capital

Fletcher Building Limited

Fisher & Paykel Appliances Limited

Oji Fibre Solutions

Downer New Zealand

CPB Contractors/ CIMIC

Leighs Construction

Auckland Transport

Naylor Love

Ghella Limited


Hawkins 2017


Work highlights

  • Working closely with the NZTA and its external property management consultants Darroch and Colliers International in relation to the management of the NZTA’s national landlord’s portfolio of properties acquired by the Crown for future public highways.
  • Acting for the NZTA through its property consultants WSP and Align to acquire the land required for NCI and compensate affected parties under the Public Works Act 1981 (PWA).
  • Advising on the Northern Corridor Improvements Project (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.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson's Auckland office has a wealth of experience in dealing with local and national transport projects, particularly in the areas of rail and roading. Involving more than 30 lawyers in the group, the firm is able to bring together expertise in planning, design, procurement, property, funding, construction and litigation to major projects. It is currently acting for Auckland Transport in the procurement process for the City Rail Link (CRL) Main Works. It also has one of New Zealand's leading aviation law practices. Gerald Lanning leads the transport practice and is a partner in the local government and environment group. Property, local government, and infrastructure partner Michael Wood and leading front-end infrastructure specialist Michael Weatherall play pivotal roles in the practice, which also calls upon commercial partner Michael Sage, property partner Nick Wilson and up-and-coming construction partner Lisa Curran.

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

Christchurch City Council

Toll Holdings

Transdev New Zealand

NZ Transport Agency

Port Nelson Ltd

Port of Napier Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acting for Auckland Transport in the acquisition of the properties required for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) project, one of the most significant transport infrastructure projects underway in New Zealand.
  • Assisting Auckland Council with the renewal of the Northcote Town Centre on Auckland’s North Shore. This is a major long-term urban renewal project for the Auckland Region.
  • 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.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper has a multi-disciplinary transport practice that is best known for its multi-modal shipping knowledge. The firm's work goes beyond shipping, with major companies also calling on its advice to handle road haulage and air freight matters. The practice brings together litigation, banking, finance and health and safety to support its shipping and logistics services. Work includes port services arrangements, fuel and pilot procurement, warehousing and distribution, freight forwarding and advice on the Maritime Transport Act. Chris Dann in Christchurch leads the small but diverse practice.

Practice head(s):

Chris Dann

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

  • Acting for Hilton Haulage in relation to the establishment of its global logistics and freight forwarding business division, encompassing air freight, sea freight, road freight, import and export documentation and customs clearance.
  • Advised leading global freight forwarder, Hellmann on its aircraft charter and block space purchase agreements with Air New Zealand for the carriage of freight.
  • 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.

Hesketh Henry

'They have a unique set of skills within the sphere of international transport as well as international commerce', says a client of the transport practice at Hesketh Henry in Auckland. 'They are true experts in transport law, and their advice is always well considered, timely and succinct', adds another. The firm focuses on the maritime, logistics and commodities sectors, advising on shipping and trade contracts, as well as employment, health and safety, insurance, property and regulatory issues within the transport sector. It advises domestic and international charterers and commodities traders, container lines, P&I clubs, marine insurers and logistics providers. Practice head Simon Cartwright and marine insurance specialist Alan Sherlock are the lead partners.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cartwright

Other key lawyers:

Alan Sherlock; Zoe Pajot; Alice Eager


‘Simon Cartwright, and legal advisor Zoe Pajot have a unique set of skills within the sphere of international transport as well as international commerce. Simon and legal advisor Zoe Pajot stand out.’

‘Hesketh Henry has true experts in transport law. Their advice is always well considered, timely and succinct. The are a pleasure to work with.’

‘Simon Cartwright leads the experienced and highly skilled team. Alice Eager, is one to watch – very intelligent and liked by her clients.’

‘Timely and thorough advice concerning complex shipping matters. Extensive knowledge on all aspects of shipping law and contract of carriage particulars.’

‘Zoe Pajot and Simon Cartwright have a willingness to approach matters with complete professionalism whilst also assisting in providing detailed and concise advice to achieve a desired outcome.’

‘Simon Cartwright has years of experience dealing with the legal issues arising from maritime transportation, but he also has an eye for the commercial and practical issues that arise from shipping operations.’

Key clients

Charterers P & I Club

Juken New Zealand Limited

Vero Marine

Work highlights

  • The firm advised Juken in the tendering of its logistics services.
  • The firm is defending International Shipping Line against a claim 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.

Russell McVeagh

The transport group at Russell McVeagh acts for airport and port owners and operators, as well as many key players in the rail and road sectors. Through its highly-rated finance practice, it also acts for numerous investors and funders of transport infrastructure. Its work includes the procurement of ships and aircraft, as well as advising on the regulatory control provisions of the Commerce Act. The firm's shipping team also handles charters, berths, access arrangements, dry-docking, upgrades and refurbishment projects, as well as planning and other environmental approvals, marine pollution, damage, delay and collision matters. Environment and planning specialist Daniel Minhinnick in Auckland and Mei Fern Johnson in Wellington lead the three-partner transport group.

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

Bus and Coach Association

Mana Coach Services

Howick and Eastern Coach Services

Work highlights

  • Advised Auckland International Airport on the suite of planning approvals required to enable the development of a longer second runway at Auckland Airport.
  • Advised NZ Infra on the consenting strategy, legislative reform and property acquisition aspects of NZ Infra’s response to the Ministry of Transport’s response requirements document for the provision of light rail from the City Centre to Mangere in Auckland.
  • Advising KiwiRail on all aspects of the design, procurement, strategy, contracting and environmental consenting process for acquisition of two large purpose-built passenger and freight rail ferries for KiwiRail’s Interislander ferry division.

Chapman Tripp

Chapman Tripp has a broad 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. It draws on the experience of litigation and infrastructure partner Jo Appleyard in Christchurch and, in Auckland, environment and resource management specialists Paula Brosnahan and Catherine Somerville-Frost. Litigator John Knight in Wellington has a strong track record in insurance, maritime law and resource management disputes.


'The firm is highly responsive, commercially attuned and has strong industry knowledge', says a client of MinterEllisonRuddWatts, which joins the ranking this year. The firm has extensive experience in advising public and private sector companies on major road and rail projects, aviation law and port projects. Infrastructure partner Sarah Sinclair and finance specialist Tom Fail lead the practice from Auckland, where employment partner Gillian Service and corporate partner Mark Forman are frequent advisers to the transport industry. In Wellington, public law and regulatory partner Briony Davies also plays a key role in the practice.

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

Work highlights

  • Advising the Crown, as the co-Sponsor and funder of Auckland’s City Rail Link project together with Auckland Council on the structure for funding, delivery and operation of the City Rail Link Project.
  • Advising Project NEXT, acting for public transport authorities and Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Authority on the procurement of a national ticketing solution to enable and process payments for journeys on public transport in New Zealand.
  • Acting for Go Bus Limited (and its ultimate shareholders Ngāi Tahu Holdings Corporation and Tainui Group Holdings) on its sale of the Go Bus business to Melbourne based industry-operator, Kinetic.

Wilson Harle

Wilson Harle in Auckland is one of a small group of firms in New Zealand with an established admiralty and maritime law practice, which sees it act for vessel owners, port companies, international carriers and their insurers or P&I Clubs. The firm's prime focus is litigation, public law and regulatory advice, making it a key adviser on not only maritime disputes, but also commercial, competition, insolvency, regulatory and public law issues affecting the industry. Chris Browne, Allison Ferguson and Felicity Monteiro are the key partners. Monteiro and senior associate Kerryn Webster, who is a former New Zealand vice president of the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand, are both members of the ShipArrested Network.

Other key lawyers:

Kerryn Webster

Key clients

LexisNexis NZ Ltd

Work highlights

  • Co-authoring New Zealand text on Maritime Law for LexisNexis NZ Ltd.