30 Oct 2021

NZ Post overwhelmed by Auckland's ongoing lockdown

From Checkpoint, 8:08 am on 30 October 2021

Auckland's 11-week lockdown and its growing demand for package deliveries has NZ Post on the brink, with hundreds of extra workers needed and no more vans left to hire in the city.

It comes as Aucklanders spent more than $700 million online over the past three months - $122m more than the same quarter last year.

Piles of packages are being processed and sorted through scanners before landing in piles ready to be couriered from its Auckland operations facility in Highbrook.

NZ Post chief customer officer Brian Dobson said this was the busiest they had ever been.

"Our busiest week of the year tends to be around Black Friday, our projections are showing that the last five weeks worth of online sales in Auckland will have all been bigger than Black Friday last year."

They have hired 400 extra vans and 800 workers in Auckland but they still need an extra 300 workers and there are no more vans left to hire in the city.

As the festive season approaches Dobson told Checkpoint it would not be enough.

"There are limits on how much you can scale up ... we've exceeded our targets in terms of Auckland deliveries already.

"We do have a little bit of upside from where we are but there are some physical limits and there's not much delivery capacity beyond the level that we're achieving at the moment."

At the moment two million parcels are processed and delivered around the country, 750,000 are in Auckland - that is about four parcels a second.

Operating hours have also been extended. And for workers like She Te Maari who manages the floor during the day, she is working six days a week to keep up.

"We only used to process maybe about 2000, 3000 [parcels] plus doing forward local and same-day forward, but because it has been so busy in the Auckland region, we can average now probably up to about 10,000."

She said it had been a whole team effort.

"We're getting help from the corporate people that are coming in on Saturday to give us a hand and they are actually having a look at the frontline work that's done. So, for everybody to pull together as one, it's pretty awesome aye."

There is about a week's delay for parcel delivery in Auckland at the moment and that is only set to get longer over the next three months.

To online shoppers, Dobson advised: "Plan ahead, write a list, if you're prepared you can do one big order and rather than ordering lots of individual items. If you order something every week or every month - you know we get pet food every month you might want to lump a few orders together and again save on shipping costs.

"A lot of the retailers are still offering click and collect, so if that's available there is a way that you can avoid those delivery delays at the moment."

Cut-off dates could be even earlier too, so make sure to keep an eye out.

In the meantime, staff are working round the clock to clear the parcel backlog.

NZ Post is also warning the pandemic has led to reduced airfreight capacity around the world and stricter lockdowns in some countries are also causing delays.

Delivery times to send parcels overseas in time for Christmas are parcels to anywhere other than Australia will need to be posted by mid-November.