New Zealand Date/Time:
Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 5:41:04 AM
Harbourmasters & Bylaw

Auckland Transport

Harbourmaster Duty Officer
Harbourmasters Office 
(09) 362 0397 (ext: 0 for 24/7 emergency duty officer)

More info on key rules:
Beaches, Lakes and Waterways

Auckland Council’s Navigation Safety Bylaw and Harbourmaster’s Directions control the manner in which all vessels navigate within the regions waters. These rules are designed to ensure safety for all water users. They ensure our harbours and channels are clear and open to navigation of all vessels.

The Auckland Council, Harbourmaster – Roles & Responsibilities

Navigation and safety (commercial and recreational) in accordance with national and local maritime rules/bylaw:

  • regulation of commercial shipping
  • harbour patrols
  • navigational hazards i.e. logs floating in the harbour, drifting boats, cars etc
  • wrecks and derelicts
  • harbour events co-ordination
  • prohibited anchoring / fishing areas i.e. shipping channels, ferry lanes and Telecom cable zones
  • maritime education programmes
  • notice to mariners for Auckland region
  • navigational aids e.g. buoys, beacons, lights
  • illegal activities e.g. speeding
  • accidents / incidents e.g. fire, collision, grounding, near miss
  • maritime signage at boatramps etc
  • harbour complaints
  • personal water craft registration i.e. new and change of ownership Marine oil spill preparedness, response and clean up:
  • oil / petrol / diesel spills in the harbour
  • (any other pollution matters e.g. into streams / lakes / stormwater and other waterways – ring the Water Pollution Hotline 09 377 3107 – 24 hrs)
  • oil spill plans for marine fuelling stations Management and administration of moorings within mooring management areas:
  • allocation of swing and pile moorings
  • sale and transfer
  • waiting lists
  • approved mooring contractors

Navigation Safety Bylaw 2014

Water safety

Aucklanders love getting out on the water and new rules designed to keep people safe throughout Auckland’s coastal and inland waters are now in place. Auckland Council’s Navigation Safety Bylaw came into effect from Labour Weekend 2014. Know the rules and be prepared with the right equipment on board.

Navigation Safety Bylaw and safer boating advice:


take them, wear them

Be a responsible skipper:
keep everyone safe

Carry a means of communication:
mobile phone, VHF radio, flare or beacon

Reduce your speed: '5 knots'
around people, vessels and the shore

Avoid excessive alcohol

Key Bylaw

Lifejacket/Personal Flotation Devices

You must carry a suitable lifejacket for every person on board your vessel.
If your boat is 6m or smaller, everyone on board must wear their lifejacket unless the skipper
says it is safe to remove it.
Lifejackets must be worn on all vessels in times of increased risk.
They must be worn in bad weather, low visibility and emergencies.

Be a responsible skipper

Every boat must have a skipper.
The skipper is in charge of the safety of everyone on board and should know the boats limits.
Check the weather forecast first – if in doubt, don’t go out.
Carry a means of communication: mobile phone, VHF radio, flare or beacon. Communication equipment is an essential part of safe boating - if you can’t contact someone on shore to say you’re in trouble, nobody can rescue you.
Tell someone before you go out on the water.

Reduce your speed: around people, vessels, and the shore

The speed of all vessels must be no more than 5 knots when the vessel is:

within 50m of any other vessel
within 50m of any person in the water
within 200m of the shore, any structure  or vessel flying a dive flag.

Avoid excessive alcohol

Alcohol can affect your ability to react when something goes wrong on the water:

the skipper in charge of a vessel must not be intoxicated  
drinking alcohol could increase the likelihood of you ending up in the water by accident
it can change the way your body reacts when entering the water.
Search for the nearest boat ramp, access tide times and get local information.


A person must be 15 years or over to navigate any powered vessel capable of speeds of over 10 knots. This includes Personal Water Craft (jetskis).

Water-Skiing, Towing and Similar Activities

  • Any boat towing a water skier, boat, wake board or similar device at over 5 knots must have a person aged at least 10 to keep a lookout, as well as the skipper. Those being towed must wear a PFD.
  • Water skiing and similar activities are not permitted from sunset to sunrise.


Recreational craft must avoid making a wake which can cause unnecessary danger or risk of damage to other vessels, structures or people.

Access Lanes and Reserved Areas

  • If an area is being used for its designated purpose, then other persons and craft must leave the area.
  • If it is not being used for that designated purpose, then all normal navigation rules apply.


  • All vessels must anchor well clear of wharves and jetties and their approaches.
  • Skippers must ensure they anchor so that they do not cause a hazard by swinging into other anchored craft, or by dragging.

The 500 Ton Rule

In areas near the approaches to harbours and ports, charts will show where all vessels must keep well clear of ships over 500 tons. Even if the ship is overtaking, stay at least 500 metres clear ahead and 100 metres from sides of all ships.

Tankers and Defence Premises

Whenever possible, vessels are required to stay at least 200 metres away from tankers, ships displaying code flag B (dangerous goods) and defence premises.


Any vessel where diving activities are taking place must display code flag A with a minimum size 600mm x 600mm. It must be displayed in a manner so that it is clearly visible to all approaching vessels from 200 metres.

Flagged Areas

Flagged areas set aside for swimming may not be used for other purposes.

Special Events

Event organisers can apply to the ARC Harbourmaster for temporary reservation of sea areas for events and for the temporary suspension of bylaw requirements, for safety reasons and to avoid conflict.

Swimming & Diving near Wharves

This is prohibited within 50 metres of wharves regularly used for berthing and unberthing vessels.

Swimming Areas

Some harbour areas are set aside for swimmers and are marked by white buoys. These are at St Heliers, Kohimarama and Pt Chevalier off Coyle Park.


Do not obstruct access to any wharf, landing place, boat ramp slipway or mooring.


All vessels, including sailing vessels, are to keep at least 50 metres clear of all large vessels (over 500 tons) which are navigating inside Auckland’s Pilotage Districts i.e. west of a line between Tiri Tiri Matangi and Rakino Islands and eastwards of the Manukau Bar.

Prohitibed Anchorage Areas

The following areas are prohibited anchorage areas:

  • Inner Explosives Anchorage - Inner Harbour mid-way between Devonport Wharf and the centre gap of the Wave Screen at Hobson Bay
  • Outer Explosives Anchorage - Mid-way between Browns Island and Wharf Bay, Motuihe
  • Kauri Point 400 metres off Kauri Point Wharf
  • The approach section to the Rangitoto Channel marked by the white sector of the leading light at St Leonard’s Beach
  • The main Rangitoto Channel
  • The basin of the commercial port between Wynyard and Fergusson Wharves
  • The approaches to Matiatia Wharf, Waiheke Island
  • The Defence Area at the Naval Base, Devonport
  • Telecom cable zones
  • Motuihe channel fast passenger ferry lane
  • Waitemata Harbour, Harbour Bridge precautionary area.

Auckland Harbour Restricted Areas

Harbour Communications

The Port Radio Station uses VHF channel 12. Listen to this channel and you will hear the Port Radio Station talking to ships arriving and departing Auckland. This will allow you to know what time ships will be moving about the port and where they will be going.

Harbourmaster (09) 362 0397
(ext. 0 for Emergency Duty Officer 24 hrs)

Motuihe Channel and Harbour Bridge

These have special “lanes”.
Within these lanes you must

  1. NOT anchor
  2. NOT fish
  3. NOT “impede the passage” of a commercial ship or passenger ferry.

(Keep out of their way. Make your intentions obvious and keep well clear).

Commercial Shipping Channels

These are the channels and areas large ships will use within the harbour and its approaches. Inside these channels you must:

  1. NOT anchor at any time
  2. NOT “impede the passage” of a commercial ship or passenger ferry.
    (Keep out of their way. Make your intentions obvious and keep well clear).

Reserved Areas

Some harbour areas are reserved for specific use e.g. non-mechanically powered vessels only to be used in Judges Bay and Panmure Basin (apart from authorized water-skiers).

Collision Prevention

Report any collision to the Auckland Council Harbourmaster in writing within 48 hours of the accident. All persons must abide by the provisions of Maritime Rule 22 – Collision Prevention.

Navigational Aids

Not to be secured to, damaged or interfered with.

Personal Watercraft

Must be registered with Auckland Council and display unique assigned number on both sides of the hull. For new and change of registrations phone the Auckland Council Harbourmasters Office.


  • Moorings require Harbourmaster approval
  • Must be regularly inspected
  • Must be used regularly
  • Must be marked when not occupied by vessel
  • Moorings outside designated mooring areas need a resource consent.

Vessels to be Adequately secured

No anchorage in navigation channels or approaches to wharves/jetties.

Vessels to be Serviceable

All vessels moored or anchored in the harbour are to be seaworthy. If not they can be removed by Auckland Council.

Harbourmaster’s Directions

  • Motuihe Channel Fast Passenger Ferry Lane
  • No vessel may anchor or fish.
  • No vessel may “impede the passage” of a ferry.
  • Harbour Bridge Precautionary Area
  • No vessel may anchor or fish
  • No vessel may “impede the passage” of a ferry, ship or warship.

Marine Oil Spills

The Auckland Transport Harbourmaster’s team responds to marine oil spills. Responsibility for preventing marine oil spills lies with the skipper of the vessel. Even relatively small amounts of fuel and oil spills can be fatal to birds and sea life and spoil our unique coastal environment. People who spill fuel or oil can be prosecuted under the Resource Management Act and fined. Clean-up costs incurred by Auckland Transport are also recovered from the spiller. These costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Most oil and fuel spills are the result of careless refueling or pumping oily bilge water overboard
Here are a few tips to reduce / prevent marine oil spills:

  • Prevent overflows when refueling: estimate how much fuel you need before you start. Monitor the entire refuelling operation. Keep absorbent material available to soak up spills. Plug the scuppers with rags. Stop refueling well before the breathers overflow.
  • Keep bilge water clean: regularly check the engine for fuel or oil leaks. Immediately repair any problems. Stop water leaking into the boat. Clean up any oil in the bilges before turning on the bilge pump. Soak up floating oil with absorbent pads, newspaper or paper towels.

If you see marine oil spills:

Call the Auckland Transport Harbourmaster’s Duty Officer on 09 362 0397 – (24/7)

For further Information and Copies of the Bylaw

Contact the Auckland Transport Harbourmaster’s Office:
Auckland Transport
Private Bag 92250
Auckland 1142
Phone: (09) 362 0397
(24/7 emergency duty officer)
Facsimile: (09) 362 0399


Auckland Transport
Marine Rescue Centre
3 Solent Street
Mechanics Bay