Coastal Bulk Shipping hopes to increase its freight and is moving into a new port building as part of Whanganui's port revitalisation.
When the business started the ship carried 5000 to 7000 tonnes of cargo a year. It benefited from Whanganui District Council's upgrade of Whanganui's no 1 wharf about five years ago, and now carries about 20,000 tonnes a year.
General manager Doug Smith now wants that to increase to 30,000 tonnes.
"We would like to think that we could increase the tonnage through here," he said.
The work horse of the business is the 700-tonne freighter MV Anatoki and she has been berthing in Whanganui regularly since her purchase in 2008.
Coastal Bulk Shipping is New Zealand's only non-containerised coastal shipping business and regularly uses Whanganui Port.
The boat carries dolomite lime from Takaka and barley from Timaru to Whanganui. On August 24 it was heading south again with a load of posts for Marlborough vineyards.
The Anatoki needs only 4.2m of water when fully loaded and can use every port in New Zealand, including Westport and Greymouth. The bar at Whanganui Port is under 4.5m to 5m of water at high tide, making the port accessible without dredging.
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Salt and different types of fertiliser are possible cargoes that do not have to reach their destinations quickly.
The Anatoki has two crews, with four people in each. The ninth person in the business is Smith. He will have a small space in the new port office at no 1 wharf. The office is being painted and re-roofed.
This year a weighbridge for trucks will be built in front of it. Trucks will take an anticlockwise route along wharf 1, entering from Short St and leaving from Kirk St.
Coastal shipping comes in handy during emergencies, Smith said. The Anatoki has carried fuel to the Chatham Islands in containers, and it did extra business when the Kaikoura earthquakes put the South Island's State Highway 1 out of action.
It also brought hay from the South Island in 2007-8, when the North Island was in drought.
There has been a lot of talk about "the blue highway" and the importance of coastal shipping, but not much action, Smith said.
However moving product by sea makes for fewer carbon emissions. It was a factor in Marton malting company Malteurop NZ's long-term contract with Coastal Bulk Shipping - a contract that has increased its backloads to the South Island.