Firms To Watch: Transport (rail, road, air and sea)

Dawson & Associates is a Nelson-based maritime law boutique specialising in marine commercial matters, including all aspects of super yacht purchases and sale, as well as maritime incidents, litigation and advocacy involving New Zealand and South Pacific maritime law and policy.
Operating out of Wellington, Izard Weston is a specialist boutique with extensive maritime law experience advising shipowners, charterers, port operators, salvors, P&I Clubs and governments on the gamut of dry and wet shipping matters. It also maintains a considerable Pacific Islands shipping practice.

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

Bell Gully

Bell Gully offers an experienced transport practice, with clients including New Zealand’s most significant companies and operators such as Air New Zealand and Auckland Transport. In Wellington, Andrew Beatson is a key figure in the resource management and infrastructure spaces, and Hugh Kettle focuses on major infrastructure projects and banking transactions, working with public sector bodies. In Auckland, Natasha Garvan focuses on environmental and resource management matters.

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 Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Transport and NZ Transport Agency on Te Tupu Ngātahi (The Supporting Growth Alliance).
  • Advised City Rail Link Limited and its predecessor AT on all aspects of the City Rail Link project.
  • Advised Tainui Group Holdings on a nationally-significant and highly strategic project to develop an inland port at Ruakur.

Buddle Findlay

With offices in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, Buddle Findlay‘s transport team has broad coverage and is able to undertake nationally significant projects such as Auckland Transport’s City Rail Link project. Paul Beverley is a recognised expert in infrastructure projects and 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 featuring Tom Bennett on procurement and construction, alongside Vanessa Evitt and senior associate Mathew Gribben on local government and regional infrastructure developments. Patrick Mulligan left the practice.


‘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

Auckland Transport

Auckland Council

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Hutt City Council


Kapiti Coast District Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Waka Kotahi on obtaining the approvals for the Te Ara Tupua – Ngā Ūranga to Pito-One Shared Path Project.
  • Advised Auckland Council and Auckland Transport on the project alliance agreement and related governance arrangements for the City Rail Link.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on Project NEXT, the National Ticketing Project.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan’s full-service transport department has a strong record in handling major PPP projects, and is a regular advisor to major New Zealand transport agencies. Auckland office managing partner and real estate specialist Matthew Ockleston worked with other key names Paul Buetow, Christina Sheard, and Nicky McIndoe advising NZ Transport Agency on the Northern Corridor Improvements Project. 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.

Other key lawyers:

Christina Sheard

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

Fletcher Building Limited

Fisher & Paykel Appliances Limited

Oji Fibre Solutions

Downer New Zealand

CPB Contractors/ CIMIC

Leighs Construction

Naylor Love

Ghella Limited


Hawkins 2017


Work highlights

  • Advised Waka Kotahi on the development of the Business Case through to the current construction process for the NCI Project and the new Rosedale Bus Station.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on a number of complex matters relating to the SH1 Whangārei to Port Marsden Highway.
  • Advising Waka Kotahi on all matters relating to environmental and planning approvals and land acquisition, as part of the SH58 project.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh offers significant breadth and depth in the transportation sector. The firm advises on a range of matters in the aviation sector, including planning, regulatory control provisions of the Commerce Act, and on process and methodologies for establishing airport landing charges. On the shipping side, the team has specialist maritime law expertise and its expertise includes advice on chartering and drydocking arrangements and ports and berths access. Key partners in Auckland include Daniel Minhinnick, the national chair of the 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 policy. Simon Pilkinton advises infrastructure providers and major urban developers on all aspects of resource management and environmental law, with expertise in the water, municipal waste, and ports sectors. On the commercial side, Mei Fern Johnson advises on M&A and investment in (and procurement of) infrastructure, transport and energy (including oil and gas) projects, and collaborative contracting.

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

Work highlights

  • Advising KiwiRail on the environmental approvals required for the project, Intermodal Freight Hub.
  • Advised NZ Infra on the consenting strategy, legislative reform and property acquisition aspects of NZ Infra’s provision of light rail from the City Centre to Mangere in Auckland.
  • 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‘s transportation expertise spans all areas from planning and funding, to construction and ongoing operations, with a long-standing reputation for working on major projects in the Auckland region. Working primarily with government entities, practice head Gerald Lanning is collaborating with real estate specialists Michael Wood and Nick Wilson on Auckland Transport’s acquisition of the properties required for the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative project. Infrastructure lawyers Michael Weatherall and Michael Sage are also highly recommended, as is special counsel Lisa Curran for 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

Christchurch City Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Council on the renewal of the Northcote Town Centre on Auckland’s North Shore.
  • Advising the New Zealand Transport Agency on its acquisition programme.
  • Advised Auckland Council and Panuku Development Auckland on obtaining consents for the necessary infrastructure to enable Auckland to hold the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.

Anthony Harper

The Christchurch-based transport and logistics practice at Anthony Harper advises on a wide range of complex planning, transactional, and regulatory matters, including working with global freight forwarder, Hellmann on its novel Covid-related aircraft charter and block space purchase agreements with Air New Zealand for the carriage of freight. Key contact Chris Dannprovides very high-quality advice‘ and is an expert in the logistics and shipping sectors.

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

Lineage Logistics

First Global Logistics

GCH Aviation

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

Hilton Haulage

Kings Transport and Logistics

Lyttelton Port Company Limited

Mercedes-Benz New Zealand

Opzeeland Transport

Rhenus Logistics

Scales Storage and Logistics

GCH Aviation

Work highlights

  • Advised Hilton Haulage on the establishment of its global logistics and freight forwarding business division.
  • Advised Lyttelton Port Company Limited on a range of template and bespoke port and logistics services agreements.
  • Advised Rhenus Group on the purchase of shares in three separate companies comprising Malcolm Total Logistics Group.

Hesketh Henry

Focused on the shipping and logistics sectors, Hesketh Henry has a strong record in transactional and contentious matters, many of them with an international element. Clients praise its ‘strength in New Zealand admiralty law’ and board multi-jurisdictional expertise. Dual-qualified England and New Zealand maritime lawyer Simon Cartwright offers practical advice and solutions’; he works alongside Alan Sherlock, a specialist in marine insurance, and transactional lawyer Ruth Allcoat.

Practice head(s):

Simon Cartwright


‘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

  • Advised Charterers P&I Club and its assured TPT Shipping Ltd on its response to a number of claims made by vessel operators in relation to letters of indemnity.
  • Representing an international shipping liner company in defence proceedings against a claim brought by New Zealand cargo owners and insurers in the New Zealand High Court.
  • Representing the owner of a heritage Camper & Nicholson yacht in claims against the repair yard that carried out work to replace the anti-fouling on the hull in 2013.


MinterEllisonRuddWatts has extensive expertise advising constructors, developers and government bodies through all stages of the project lifecycle. Aviation, ports and maritime infrastructure are a core source of work, with matters encompassing funding, procurement and construction for large-scale projects. Key figures include Auckland-based infrastructure specialist Sarah Sinclair and corporate partner Mark Forman, and Wellington-based Briony Davies.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Sinclair


‘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

Ports of Auckland Limited

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Authority

Ministry of Transport

Go Bus

Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association Inc

Wellington Gateway Partnership

Metrobox Limited and Pinnacle Corporation Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Ministry of Transport on the Auckland Light Rail project.
  • Advising an international joint venture comprising  UGL Rail Services Pty Ltd and ComfortDelGro Transit Pte Ltd on their involvement in a procurement process for the operation of the Auckland metro rail network.
  • Advising the Transmission Gully project on historical claims made by the JV against the client and NZTA, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on the project.

Wilson Harle

Recognised for its long-standing maritime expertise, 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 leads the team, 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 quick to react.’

Key clients

Cargill Ocean Transportation (Singapore) Pte

The Standard Club HK

Pequod Associate

Work highlights

  • Represented Cargill Ocean Transportation in claims brought against vessels visiting New Zealand for alleged misdelivery of cargo.
  • Representing The Standard Club HK, the charterers of the seized vessel TS Index, in an application made for arbitration.