The Lyttelton Port company has bought land in Rolleston, southwest of Christchurch, where it will develop an inland container hub.
The 27-hectare site would be used as an exchange point for containers heading in and out of the port by road and rail.
The port's chief executive Peter Davie said Rolleston was an ideal location because of its proximity, and direct road and rail access to the sea port.
He said the hub would significantly strengthen Lyttelton's position as the main South Island freight gateway.
Development of the site would begin in the New Year.