One international container and general cargo terminal at Nuku’alofa and some domestic wharves serving inter-island ferries. The main port at Nuku’alofa was corporatized in 1999, as a statutory authority. Facilities for international shipping are in generally good condition.
Nuku’alofa harbour is the only deep-water harbour of the islands; it is the central hub for boats to the outer islands. There are usually two boats to ʻEua each day, and two to Haʻapai and Vavaʻu each week. In addition to these regular services by shipping companies, private boat owners provide less regular services to smaller islands such as Nomuka and ʻEueiki.
Nuku’alofa port is a fairly deep harbor basin of approximately 3 by 10 kilometers surrounded by fringing reefs. There are two main channels into the alongside berth, one from the north available to all vessels and the other from the east for vessels of less than 110 m LOA. The Marine and Ports Department provide and maintain good solar powered navigation aids. There are two alongside berths and a mooring dolphin for discharge of oil and LPG cargoes. Nuku’alofa, as the major port of Tonga, supports container, ro-ro, general cargo and tanker traffic.
Approximately 200 vessels per annum use the port ranging in size from 4,000 to 50,000 GRT for passenger ships and from 1,500 to 14,000 GRT for merchant ships.
Stevedoring and transport services operate efficiently.
Key port information may also be found at:
Port Location and Contacts
Province or District
Town or City (Closest location) with Distance (km)
Name : Nuku'alofa
Port's Complete Name
|Port of Nuku’alofa|
Managing Company or Port Authority (If more than one operator, break down by area of operation)
|Tonga Port Authority|
Management Contact Person
Closest Airport and Frequent Airlines to / from International Destinations
Airport Name: Fuaʻamotu International Airport
Airlines: Fiji, Air NZ, Virgin
1. Queen Salote Domestic Berth #4 2. Queen Salote Domestic Berth #3
3. Queen Salote International Berth #2 4. Queen Salote International Berth #1
5 Touliki Navy Base, breakwater wall. 6. Tug Berth
Description and Contacts of Key Companies
Port Authority Tonga (PAL) manages the port operation. There are 3 companies PF, Nuku’alofa Stevedoring and KVL providing stevedoring services. Key clearing and shipping companies are Dateline Transam, Royco Shipping and Kagent Ltd. Transportation ex-port is by owner operator truckers of which there are over 20.
For information on Tonga Port of Nuku’alofa contact details, please see the following links:
Port is run efficiently with quick turnaround times There is generally no waiting time, pilot is on call except Sundays (until midnight).
Limitations are draft in the Main Channel (10 - 15m draft) and width for the Narrow Channel, it has a draft of 27m but width dictates maximum ship length of 320m.
There is priority for humanitarian shipping using domestic berths and in emergency it can use the international berth as priority.
Major Import Constraints
Handling Figures 2014
Container Traffic (TEUs)
Handling Figures Bulk and Break Bulk 2014
Bulk and Break Bulk (MT)
Discharge Rates and Terminal Handling Charges
For information on port rates and charges, please see the following link:
Type of Berth
Maximum Draft (m)
General Cargo Handling Berths
Imports - Bagged Cargo
Queen Salote 1 & 2
Exports - Bagged Cargo
Queen Salote 1 & 2
Imports and Exports – RoRo
|Queen Salote 1 & 2|
Queen Salote 1 & 2
Port Handling Equipment
Port of Tonga Ltd operates Port equipment.
Stevedoring companies are responsible for moving cargo ship to dockside only.
(Yes / No)
Total Quantity and Capacity Available
Comments on Current Condition and Actual Usage
Good condition; new.
They can stack containers full to 2 high, empty to 6 high.
RoRo Tugmaster (w/ Trailer)
Grain Elevator w/ Bagging Machines
18 x ranging 3T – 26T
Container Facilities Available
Storage for up to 700 containers
Yes Storage for up to 700 containers
|Container Freight Station (CFS)||No||No|
Refrigerated Container Stations
Plugs for 63 containers
|Other Capacity Details|
Limited to stack 3 high in windy conditions100m x 200m area for stacking
|Daily Take Off Capacity (Containers per day)||12 – 14 per hour|
|Number of Reefer Stations (connection points)||Plugs for 63 containers|
|Emergency Take-off Capacity (Give an indication)||12 – 14 per hour|
|Off take capacity of gang shift (in Containers per shift)||12 – 14 per hour|
Customs are generally very efficient, normal processing time is around one hour. Customs officials are available 24 hours (except Sundays) located adjacent to the port.
For humanitarian goods, if notified well in advance, most of clearance paperwork can be completed prior to cargo / ship’s arrival.
For information on Tonga Port of Nuku’alofa customs details, please see the following link:
Queen Salote Berths 1 & 2 are multi purpose and can handle RoRo berthing vessels up to 110 m with 11m drafts.
Grain and Bulk Handling
Port is not equipped to handle bulk grain. There are no companies available for bagging and no silo storage facilities.
Main Storage Terminal
There is one covered warehouse of approximately 3,500m2. There is generally space for short-term food storage. It is generally full to capacity mid to late December but otherwise available.
Number of Storage Facilities
The private stevedoring companies are responsible for getting the goods off the ship on the quay and vice versa. Tonga Port Authority are responsible for getting containers, and general cargo to the storage area or onto transporters.
There are 3 private companies who provide stevedore services. They can provide up to 23 men per shift as required. There have been no issues with availability or performance and they work in well with the TPA.
Port master will coordinate stevedoring services as required. They will operate at all times as necessary, except Sundays.
Private trucking operators move items from the port. They are owner operated and the Port Master coordinates this service. There are over 20 trucks capable of shifting containerised cargo (side lifters) in addition to a wide variety of other freight vehicles. There is sufficient capacity for current and possible surge requirements.
Tonga Port Authority employs and manages port security. Security personnel are on site 24/7. Critical areas are security fenced.
There are no current security issues.
(Yes / No)
Current ISPS Level
Level 1 = Normal, Level 2 = Heightened, Level 3 = Exceptional
Nuku’alofa Fire Service