Welcome to Northland, and some of the best cruising waters in New Zealand. I’ve provided some notes below to assist visiting vessels with often-asked queries. But first, a few key points to note for your own safety:

This season will see the ongoing development of the Bay of Islands Marina. There has been increased traffic – barges, dredging and crane operations in the area – so please take extra care. In particular, keep your speed and wake down while in the marina and mooring areas – this includes tenders! The fuel jetty, yacht club and marina entrance area can be an especially busy traffic point. Five knots, a walking pace, is the strict limit.

Who to call when you’re in New Zealand waters

For visiting yachts, knowing who to call when there’s a problem or how to obtain local information can be confusing as procedures and organisations are different from country to country. The following is a brief summary of who’s who in New Zealand.

Maritime New Zealand is the government agency with overall responsibility for boating safety in New Zealand.

Maritime Radio maintains VHF and HF radio services for New Zealand’s coastal waters and the South Pacific, providing round-the-clock monitoring for distress messages. Monitors VHF Ch 16.

Search and rescue (SAR). There are several agencies involved in SAR.

• The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) coordinates national-level operations; for example, missing aircraft and offshore rescues.

• New Zealand Police coordinates local SAR operations covering land and sea. • Coastguard New Zealand, a largely volunteer-based organisation, assists in SAR operations. It has a number of rescue boats spread throughout the region and monitors a network of VHF channels. • Surf Life Saving New Zealand also assists in SAR operations and, as the name suggests, specialises in areas of surf.

The Regional Harbourmaster (that’s me) is responsible for Northland’s navigational safety out to 12 nautical miles. The harbourmaster’s office and maritime team maintains the local aids to navigation, administers local navigation safety rules, deal with wrecks and responds to any oil spills. We have offices in Opua and Whangarei.

The harbourmaster’s office is not a local emergency rescue service – that role is filled by the coastguard and police.

Northland Regional Council is also responsible for monitoring water quality in Northland’s rivers and harbours, enforcing the marine pollution regulations, and regional biosecurity.

Independent coastal radio channels: Russell Radio in the Bay of Islands, and Far North Radio provide local services on VHF for trip reports, weather forecasts and advice.

Quarantine and custom: A quarantine berth is located at Opua. New Zealand Customs and Quarantine officers meet all arriving yachts here by arrangement. Clearance can also be gained at Marsden Cove Marina in Whangarei Harbour.

Marine wildlife and reserves: The Department of Conservation (DOC) administers the marine wildlife act and has rules for approaching dolphins and whales. DOC manages the marine parks and marine reserves in New Zealand. They are also responsible for pest control and conservation on offshore islands and have rules about landing in certain areas.

I am sure all of these organisations will be happy to provide further advice on their roles and how they can assist you. Before arriving or moving to the next harbour, make sure you have all the contact details you need, and relevant VHF channels to hand.

Main contact details:

• Northland Regional Council. Working hours 0800 002 004. Report pollution, oil spills, navigation hazards and dangerous boating: 24/7 environmental hotline 0800 504 639.

• Department of Conservation. Report fishing in marine reserves, marine mammal strandings on 0800 362 468.

• Ministry of Primary Industries (which is responsible for fisheries and biosecurity).

o For all general enquiries, fishing & shellfish rules and sizes call 0800 008 333.

o To report illegal fishing call 0800 476 224.

o To report unusual hull fouling or something out of the ordinary in the water call 0800 809 966.


Enjoy your time in Northland, and stay safe!

Jim Lyle

Regional Harbourmaster

Northland Regional Council