Safe Boating Tips


1. Wear lifejackets

All boats must have suitable buoyancy aids, immediately accessible, for each person on board. These must be worn when being towed, crossing a bar or in adverse conditions such as rough seas, and should be worn in dinghies, kayaks and other vessels prone to capsize.

2. Watch your speed and wake

Your speed must not exceed 5 knots (9kph) • within 200 metres of the shore, any structure, or a diver’s blue and white flag • within 50 metres of any other vessel or any person in the water Unless using a designated access lane or reserved area for its intended purpose, or • if anyone is bow-riding or is leaning over the side As a guideline, 50 metres is half a length of a rugby field and 200 metres is two rugby fields. People in the water are at most risk from speeding boats, skiers and jet skiers. Remember, when there is no speed limit, skippers must ensure their boat’s wake does not create a risk and that they travel at a speed which is safe for the conditions. Note that 3 knot limits apply at the two commonly used anchorages, at The Anchorage and beside Adele Island, and adjacent to the marina at Port Motueka. In these areas you should trim and adjust speed for no appreciable wake. Even if beyond the 200 metre distance from shore you must be aware of the size of wake your vessel is generating when underway and alter speed and trim accordingly so that your wake doesn’t cause a danger or nuisance to others. No one under the age of 15 may operate a craft capable of exceeding 10 knots (unless they have an exemption in writing from the Harbourmaster or Director of Maritime Safety) unless under direct supervision.

3. Avoiding Pollution

All vessels are required to comply with the marine pollution regulations. This prohibits the discharge of untreated sewage (particulate waste) within 500 metres of shore or a marine farm, 200 metres of a marine reserve, or in water less than 5 metres deep. This effectively prohibits discharge of untreated sewage within Astrolabe Roadstead, or in the greater Torrent Bay. Urine is acceptable. It is also illegal to discharge plastics or oils into the water. All oil spills must by law be reported immediately to the Council’s Regional On-Scene Commander or to Maritime New Zealand. Please retain all rubbish aboard for proper disposal ashore.

4. Diving

Divers and snorkellers are vulnerable to propellors and speeding boats. Keep well clear of likely diving locations like rocky headlands or anchored boats when travelling at speed. If you see a divers’ flag, reduce speed to dead slow within 200m, and keep a sharp watch for bubbles or people in the water. When diving from a boat, both the skipper and the divers are responsible for ensuring any approaching boat can clearly see your dive flag from at least 200m away. The flag must be over 600mm along it’s shortest edge. The boatman should wave it if needed, and keep the boat between the divers and any approaching boat where possible .

5. kayaking

The Maritime Rules and Navigation Safety Bylaws apply to all small craft, including kayaks. Kayakers are encouraged to travel close to shore. Within 200 metres of shore other vessels are prohibited from travelling at speeds greater than 5 knots (except in water ski areas or access lanes), and you see more. Small paddle craft can be hard to see and usually do not show on a boat’s radar. Kayaks and other similar small craft are encouraged to follow Maritime NZ guidelines and to display a brightly coloured flag or ensure that paddle blades are brightly coloured to aid visibility. For the same reason, kayaks should be finished in a colour that contrasts with the marine environment. You are not permitted to operate a kayak after sunset or before sunrise unless you have appropriate navigation lights. When water ski lanes or areas are in use for waterskiing, other craft, including kayaks, may not enter the area. Please either wait until the ski area or lane is not occupied before proceeding quickly across it, or pass around the outside of the area at least 200 metres from shore. Do not kayak alone unless suitably equipped and experienced. Always wear a lifejacket and carry two effective means of communication. Be aware that the favourable conditions usually enjoyed in this region over summer can rapidly change. Do not paddle in rough or windy conditions and ensure you have the right clothing to keep warm, and don’t kayak alone if you don’t have the skills or equipment to bail and re-enter after a capsize. Sit-on-top kayaks should not be used when the wind is blowing offshore. Try the on-line kayak safety module at