Napier Port is well set to meet a rise in export trade with the arrival of two new Gottwald heavy-lift cranes at the weekend.
The cranes' arrival and unloading on Sunday created plenty of interest for people who watched from the Bluff Hill lookout.
First, the deck cargo of the delivery ship Marsgracht had to be temporarily unloaded so the cranes could be removed.
This involved several small boats and large launches, which were part of a 13-boat deck cargo bound for Brisbane.
They were lifted and shifted to ease access to the cranes which had been secured below decks.
Port chief operating officer Chris Bain said the Gottwald mobile harbour cranes, which have a lifting capacity of 100 tonnes, would bring to five the number of the German-manufactured cranes in use at the port.
An older crane had been sold recently.
Mr Bain said as container ships continued to get bigger, the port would operate as many as three on the one vessel.
Gottwald technicians now in Napier are expected to take up to 45 days to commission them.
The new cranes have landed at a time when business through the port continues to boom, particularly around the timber side of the export industry.
Like other New Zealand ports, Napier Port is experiencing a healthy export rise centred on the growing Asian market.
"There has been a lift in log volumes," Mr Bain said.
Asia, and particularly China, are behind the big increases.
"They have been usurping the traditional markets."
The port has seen an increase in the number of bulk carriers arriving during the past year and, while figures and final results will not be available until October or November, there are expected to be some impressive, and possibly record, monthly returns.
This looks likely to follow a healthy result for the year ended September 30, 2012, when forestry products, processed fruit and vegetables, growing apple exports with the planting of new varieties, and increased dairy and meat exports contributed to a record 3,713,057 tonnes handled through the port.
That was a 2 per cent increase over the previous year.
A record 204,065 containers (TEU, or twenty foot equivalent) were handled - an 8.5 per cent improvement on the previous year.
Napier Port is the North Island's second largest export port by tonnage volume and New Zealand's fourth largest container terminal.
Four timber export ships were in port during the weekend, and three were still loading yesterday, taking up the three berths on Number 1 wharf, which is designated for timber and wood chip loading.
The Shaoshing was loading pulp timber and general cargo for north Asia, the Pretty Keel was loading timber for India and the Flora Pioneer woodchips for Japan.
A fourth ship, the Lucky Life, was loading logs for China at what is usually a container berth because the three designated berths were full.