Log exports boost freight traffic
Exports made their rebound in the June quarter, with volumes up 6.8% from March (seasonally adjusted). Rising prices on the international market have supported a lift in dairy, horticultural, and forestry export volumes – so much so that Eastland Port boasted record log shipments in the month of June. Although the recovery in export prices has brought demand for heavy vehicles back on line, there are concerns about the consequent increases in road maintenance costs.
A whopping 287,349 tonnes of wood was transported out of Eastland Port in the month of June – the port’s biggest month on record. These volumes are equivalent to more than half of all wood products (including sawn timber and wood pulp) transported through the Gisborne port in the entire March quarter.
Delving into telemetry data shows that there has been a steady increase in the number of long vehicles on Gisborne roads heading to and from Eastland port. Heavy vehicle traffic from the north through Okitu reserve more than doubled compared to June last year. Furthermore traffic from the south along Awapuni road has risen by about a third over the same period. Through Ormond, which sees higher volumes of vehicles in general, heavy vehicle traffic was up by 5.2% from the June 2016 quarter. Given that the lift in traffic volumes took place during the wet winter season, increased wear and tear on these roads is expected.
Wood exports on the rise
But log exports are increasing across the board. In the three months to July, the volume of log and sawn timber exports was up 9.1% from a year earlier.
Recently released shipment data suggests that this lift in wood exports is broad based across the country, with all but the Ports of Auckland experiencing a lift in wood exports over the year to March 2017.
With wood prices tracking up on the international market, we expect log shipments to increase further over the coming year.
Car wait times increase at the Ports of Auckland
The Ports of Auckland has acknowledged that the ongoing increase in vehicle imports has put overwhelming pressure on their handling services, with their “wharves operating well above capacity”. According to the Ports’ annual review , the volume of vehicle shipments being processed in Auckland has increased by 20% over the June 2017 financial year. But the time that cars stay on the wharf has also increased from an average of 2.46 days in 2016 to 2.93 days in 2017 – the longest wait time seen in the past four years. With even more vehicle imports expected in the coming year, we anticipate even longer average wait times to get vehicles moving through the Auckland ports.