Repairs are coming for two earthquake-damaged cranes on Wellington's port, but it will be months before they are back in use.
Centreport says the two gantry cranes, which are more than 86 metres high and weigh 720 tonnes, have been inoperable since November's magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
While container ships with their own cranes could load or unload at the port, 10,000 to 14,000 containers were forced onto road and rail each month.
Things were costly and chaotic for operators, who were dealing with uncertainty, Road Transport Association boss Dennis Robertson said. "It would be lovely to get a date [for when normal operations resume] because that way you know what you're working towards," he said. "But if you look at what happened in the Canterbury earthquakes for the port of Lyttelton, it took an incredibly long time to resolve those issues there and, from a transport operator's perspective, it was chaotic for a very long time."
CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind said work to repair the cranes was under way. The cranes would be secured in the coming weeks. The next step was to make a temporary platform for them, which is still in the design phase
Mr Nind expected container operations at the port to partly resume within the next six months. Meanwhile, the port hoped to use geared ships as an interim solution. "We have already had two of these visit the port since the earthquake, he said.
CentrePort would start maintenance on the berth pockets alongside part of Aotea Quay wharf in the coming days, Mr Nind said.
Mr Robertson said operators were sympathetic that CentrePort faced a massive rebuild. He asked road users to be equally understanding.
"This kind of problem does change transport patterns and people do see more trucks on the road," he said. "There's often a public push-back about this, but people have to understand that everyone has to work on the same patch of road, and do it safely and in a way everyone looks after each other."