Freight volumes through Napier Port have rebounded from their April trough but remain below year earlier levels.

The company, which in May cancelled its interim dividend given the uncertain outlook, said container volumes in the June quarter were equivalent to 74,000 20-foot units, 18 per cent less than in the same period last year. Nine-month volumes were 3 per cent lower at 210,000.

Bulk cargo volumes were 24 per cent lower at 628,000 tonnes, with nine-month volumes down 13 per cent at 2.23 million tonnes. Log volumes were the driver of that decline, with exports down 31 per cent in the June quarter at 465,000 tonnes and 14 per cent lower for the nine months at 1.65 million tonnes.

Shares in the port, the country's fourth-largest container terminal and the sixth-largest bulk cargo operator, fell 3.4 per cent to $3.41. That takes their decline since the start of the year to 15 per cent.


The firm reported a 40 per cent drop in its April volumes when the Covid-19 lockdown halted all but essential freight movements. The following month it said May volumes were still materially lower than a year earlier but not as badly affected as in April.

Container volumes in the six months ended March 31 had been 7.5 per cent higher than the year before, while bulk cargoes were 7.3 per cent lower due to earlier disruption to log exports to China.

In May, chief executive Todd Dawson said the real uncertainty for the company was the extent of the slowdown in the global economy during the second half of 2020 and what impact that would have on demand for NZ exports.

"While we have seen a steady ramp up in production in key export trades, volumes remain lower than the prior comparative period with global economic uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic," Dawson said today.

"We continue to engage with cargo owners to understand how Covid-19 trading conditions are affecting them and the expected outlook to cargo volumes."

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