Boat safety in the Wellington Region


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city. A center of government, art and culture. And a destination for travelers catching the ferry to the South Island. It also a base for many water-based recreational activities. These activities are governed by the same maritime rules as the rest of New Zealand. There also subject to control by the Wellington region navigation and safety bylaws. The rules and bylaws ensure the water in the region is as safe as possible for all. There are also special requirements for Wellington Harbour, Porirua Harbour, Lake Wairarapa, Evans Bay and Lake Onoke. Popular places have rules separating different activities and areas have been set aside for activities such as water skiing, surfing and for PWC’s to use.

Wellington harbour is very busy with many commercial vessels including Cook Strait ferries. Specific requirements are in place for vessels entering or leaving the harbour. Any vessel wishing to enter Wellington harbour during the hours of darkness or restricted visibility, must call Wellington Harbour Radio on VHF Radio Channel 14. Any vessel, including pleasure craft, which cannot communicate with Wellington harbour radio must not transit the harbour entrance at night, except in an emergency. VHF Radio should be used if available or else, call on cellphone.

Pleasure craft need to stay close to the coastline and clear off the main shipping channel. They must not cross the main shipping channel unless it is safe to do so. And all small crafts must not enter the moving exclusion zone 500m ahead of any large vessel using the channel.

The maximum speed in Lampton Harbour is 12 knots. There is a 24m height restriction for any vessel wishing to enter Evans Bay. If a vessel over this height wishes to enter, contact Wellington Harbour Radio on VHF channel 14.

Cook Strait has a major influence on the wind and sea in the Wellington area. So always check the weather forecast and ensure all safety equipment is available on board and ready for use.

For further information contact the harbour master by phone or visit the Wellington Regional Council website – Phone: 04 384 5708, 0800 496 734.

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