It could be weeks until the Shiling is fixed and ready to return to Singapore.
The towing of Shiling is expected to take about 20 hours.
"There'll be a one-way traffic so there'll be no other shipping around while it's coming in."
The plan now was to tow the Shiling back to the capital, but there was no word yet on when that might happen.
The ship has been safely anchored at Tasman Bay overnight.
Maritime New Zealand said the 24 crew members onboard the vessel are safe and the ship is "sound".
Maritime New Zealand said it was responding to the mayday request.
Eight thousand volunteers spent months cleaning up the coastline and it's had a lasting impact on them.
Two New Zealanders were onboard the ship when it sank off the coast of Japan.