Ships carrying more than twice as many containers as any currently coming to New Zealand will soon be working this country's waters.
The 9500 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) ship carries 9500 containers, more than double the number carried on existing ships on the Asia route between North Asia and South America.
The ships are set to call at the Port of Tauranga weekly from the end of September when the export season begins to peak after shipping company Maersk, Port of Tauranga and Kotahi Logistics combined their efforts.
Kotahi chief executive David Ross said using a larger ship would help New Zealand remain competitive with other exporting nations.
"It's a protection against future freight market conditions in terms of keeping freight rates competitive," he said.
"It's more sustainable as there is a 22 percent lower carbon emissions per container in using a big-scale vessel like the 9500 TEU ship and - just icing on the cake, if you like - it will have fast transit times to Taiwan and southern China ports."
Mr Ross said the new route tapped into an existing service that sailed between North Asia and South America.
He said much of the South American cargo was fruit and vegetables with a high refrigeration need - and that was also suitable for the New Zealand export profile of meat, fruit and chilled dairy.
"For the ships it is only a minor diversion to call in at the Port of Tauranga, so what we are getting is a large ship service where the burden of finding the cargo each and every week is shared with the South American exporters."
While the bigger line of ships was bigger than those already visiting New Zealand, it was still dwarfed by the world's largest container ships, which could handle up to 19,500 containers.