About the port > Our Environment > Noise Management and Mitigation

The 24 hour operation of the Port is vital to the Nelson economy and that is why PNL works extremely hard at managing it's operations to minimise and reduce noise.

Port Nelson is at the heart of the Nelson community, both in location and spirit, and is vital to the social wellbeing of our region. We strive to play our role as a good corporate citizen by also contributing the vibrancy of life in Nelson.

We are committed to being a good neighbour and reducing the effects of noise generated from port operations. The 24 hour operation of the Port is vital to the Nelson economy and that is why the Port works extremely hard at managing its operations to minimise and reduce noise.

It is also important that we don’t compromise the safety of our people. We are required by law to provide all means necessary to ensure a safe working environment for our people and those visiting the port.

Noise Management Plan

The Port Nelson Noise Management Plan outlines our commitment to the management and minimisation of noise from port related activities and the Port Nelson Noise Mitigation Plan is our commitment towards the acoustic treatment of properties.

The Port Nelson Management Plan can be found here

The Port Nelson Noise Mitigation Plan can be found here


Port Noise Liaison Committee

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The Port Noise Liaison Committee (PNLC) comprises seven members with three Port Hills residents elected by the community, three members appointed by Port Nelson and an Independent Chair. They meet at least four times a year and their role is to;

  • oversee the implementation of the Port Nelson Noise Mitigation Plan;

  • ensure that the Port is aware of the noise concerns of its neighbours, and are taking steps to minimise and mitigate port noise;

  • ensure that proper noise complaint records are maintained, are up to date, and are acted upon;

  • ensure that the Port is accurately measuring noise levels;

  • see that the Port and other port users adopt the best practical options to ensure noise does not exceed a reasonable level and;

  • monitor the acoustic treatment of properties within the noise contour areas

The minutes of committee meetings held over the previous 12 months can be found here

The annual newsletter can be found here 

Noise Management

Work to acoustically treat houses to reduce noise is undertaken by the Port with the Port Noise Liaison Committee monitoring. A noise contour map identifies noise levels (dBA Ldn) by location and the level of noise that can be expected at properties within the noise contours.

The Port Nelson Noise Contour Map can be found here

The noise contours are based on extensive measurement which informs modelling and projections of noise from activities at the port. More information about how the port monitors noise can be found here

Alongside these noise management measures, Port Nelson is continuously looking at ways to minimise noise generated by port operations. The Port has an ongoing awareness campaign with plant operators, noise emissions are a high priority in plant purchase policies, and the Port has modified some plant operating systems.

The Port also invested in a crane simulator for training crane drivers and held internal noise workshops with the Stevedoring team and Container Operations Team to work through ways to minimise noise while working.

Helping to reduce noise in homes

The Port offers owners of homes most affected by port noise the opportunity to help reduce the impact of noise inside their homes. Eligible houses are determined by the noise contours and confirmed by an acoustic inspection.

Where internal noise to habitable spaces is above designated levels, the port funds sound insulation and for most affected houses, an alternative option for some is for the Port to buy homes, insulate them and resell with understanding that the property is in the Port’s noise contours area.

More information about what Port Nelson offers and how properties qualify can be found here

Mark & Kate's Story

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Seeking the Port’s help to mitigate noise was a really quick and simple process for Port Hills residents Mark and Kate.

The Russell Street residents have had their sunroom and kitchen double glazed with a 50 percent contribution from Port Nelson. Kate has owned the property 15 years and when the couple returned to permanently live in Nelson four years ago, they embarked on a renovation of the property.

Their 1930 heritage property is in Stage two of the Port Nelson Noise Contours Map making it eligible for the Port to contribute up to 50 percent of the cost to install acoustic measures to mitigate sound from the port.

“The Port was really accommodating. Our home is a heritage property so we wanted bespoke wooden joinery and that meant three sets of windows needing to be fully replaced with new framing and double glazing,” says Mark.

“We then also put in some additional measures ourselves including new sound bats in the walls, replaced the front door with a new solid door and installed new thermal curtains. Not only has this helped with noise but the house is a lot warmer so it was a win win.”

Mark says that while any noise is less noticeable since installing the mitigation measures, from their perspective it was not a big deal to begin with as they had lived near the railway lines in Auckland.

“Keeping our windows closed means at night we barely hear any noise, including port noise. During the day we have the windows open because we like the energy and vitality of the port being our neighbour,” says Mark.

“We especially like sitting in our garden and watching the yachts, tug boats and ships in the harbour and can see the ships sitting out at sea waiting to be escorted into the port.”

Mark encourages any residents who think they may be eligible for assistance to get in touch with the Port to find out how the Port can help.

“It really was so easy – an acoustic consultant did a report and we organised the quotes. Kelly from the Port then popped up to check all was good.”


Acoustic Insulation Enquiry Form

To make an information request, Click Here.

Noise Complaint Form

To make a noise complaint, Click Here.