Port of Tauranga says the official opening of the multimillion-dollar expansion at its container terminal is a milestone.
The wharf length has been expanded by a third at a cost of $30 million, a new gantry crane installed and the port's landside cargo capacity increased.
Chief executive Mark Cairns says the port is halfway through its $170 million capital expansion programme, which will continue later this year with dredging to widen and deepen Tauranga Harbour to allow for larger ships.
Prime Minister John Key performed the official opening on Thursday and said it was a significant day for the country.
"New Zealand is wanting to lift its exports from 30 to 40 percent of GDP. Many of those will go from our sea ports - Tauranga's a very significant port because of its geographic location.
"So I think it's hugely important that they are investing and making sure that we have ease of access to international markets."
Mr Key says the wharf extension and new crane are transforming the Port of Tauranga into one that can service the world.