Rules and safety information
Our maritime team will be out and about on the water around Southland throughout the summer boating season, rewarding good behaviour and enforcing the rules. We'll be working with Maritime New Zealand on the 'No Excuses' campaign, in an effort to deter unsafe boating behaviour. There will be no excuses for breaking the rules, and there will be penalties for those who cause risk to themselves or others. We want everybody to enjoy the boating season and stay safe, so check out the safer boating information below.
- Lifejackets must be worn in vessels 6 metres and under, and carried in all vessels and worn at times heightened risk.
- You must carry two forms of working communication - VHF radio, EPIRB, flares, cellphone (if coverage permits).
- There is a five knot speed limit when you are near the shore, swimmers, divers and other boat
Download the free MarineMate mobile app before you go.
Using the app, you can check local info about:
- Tide Times
- Boat Ramp Locations
- VHF Channels
- Boating Rules
- Marine Reserves
In Southland, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) and Environment Southland work together to ensure navigation safety is addressed.
Maritime New Zealand is the government agency tasked with managing maritime safety throughout the country. Their principal objective is to undertake activities that promote a safe maritime environment to provide effective marine pollution prevention and an effective marine oil pollution response system, at reasonable cost.
MNZ develops maritime and marine protection rules, provides technical advice on maritime safety and environmental protection issues, advice on ministerial correspondence, parliamentary questions and liaises with industry.
Environment Southland has the statutory function to promote social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being in our region, which includes navigation safety. We do this through bylaws such at the Navigation Safety Bylaws, and through the appointment of harbourmasters and honorary enforcement officers.
Some of the functions of MNZ and ES overlap. For example, both MNZ and ES have controls to address navigation safety. MNZ developed Maritime Rule Part 91 - Navigation Safety, which aims to be a national standard providing for a consistent approach across the country. Environment Southland has the Southland Navigation Safety Bylaws 2009 as revised in December 2015, which governs safe navigation practices on our rivers, lakes and at sea, out to the 12 nautical mile limit.
Harbour safety management
Vessels that visit our ports and harbours must comply with safety, security and environmental protection regulations. These regulations apply to cargo and passenger vessels, fishing boats, charter boats and all other commercial and recreational craft.
There is a New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code, produced by Maritime New Zealand which provides measures for the safe management of ships in ports and harbours. It also includes measures to prevent serious harm to people and protection for the marine environment.
Our maritime team has established a Harbour Safety Management System for Southland harbours to ensure we comply with this code.
Safer boating guide
This booklet gives you essential information for an enjoyable and safe time on the water.
Safe boating brochures
Environment Southland is committed to safe boating for everyone and has put together a number of Navigation Safety Brochures that you can download below.