Marine safety in Lake Taupo Region

7th September 2011
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In the Central North Island lies one of the largest inland waterways in the southern hemisphere, Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo attracts many water enthusiasts to the area not only for the trout fishing but for many of the water sports all year around.

The harbourmaster is responsible for the administration and safety of all activities on the lake and is supported by two volunteer Coastguard units – Taupo Coastguard and Turangi Coastguard in the south.

During the summer months the number of lake users rises considerably, meaning new-comers don’t have local knowledge or are ill-prepared for the changes on the lake when sudden changes occur. Even those with Lake experience are often caught out by the size of the waves, which can become dangerous within minutes.

Visitors coming for a boating holiday need to contact the Harbourmaster’s office to discuss the safety issues and regulations before going out on the lake and also find out about likely weather conditions. Those used to relying on VHF Channel 16 need to be aware that the lake has little coverage. Channel 61 is far more reliable for calling. Speed restrictions on the lake are followed strictly and fines are often imposed.

The area near Waikato River entrance has a maximum of 3 knots and no wake. The Kinloch marina has a maximum speed of 2 knots. The 5 knot limit applies within fifty metres of other craft and within 200 metres of the shore. Red and white stripe buoys are in a number of locations to indicate that 200 metre distance from the shore.

Before using the lake a boat ramp permit is required. It is available from local dealers and services stations both in Taupo and Turangi.

Licenses issued by Fish and Game are not valid in the Taupo region rivers and lakes. Some areas have been set aside for a variety of activities. A map of the lake is available from the Harbourmaster’s office, showing boat ramps and areas of specific activities such as skiing, swimming, kayaking or jet skiing.

Ski Lanes are only available for boats towing skiers, wakeboards or sea-biscuits. All other boats and swimmers must keep well clear when the lanes are being used for skiing. There is also an area reserved for PWC’s or jetskis near 3 Mile Bay boat ramp. Swimmers have reserved areas which are marked by black and white buoys or posts. No craft either powered or unpowered may pass through these areas within a 150 metres from the shore.

Divers must display a dive flag with a minimum size of 600 x 600 millimetres and passing craft must reduce speed to five knots within 200 metres of a boat displaying the flag.

Horomatangi reef is a popular trout fishing and diving area. The reef is a very shallow area. It is marked as an isolated danger mark which gives two flashes at night. Keep well clear and slow right down. Remember, there are many others using the lake. Keep a really good lookout all times. Watch out for others who may be hard to see, and slowdown if it is choppy the sun is in your eyes or if there are other craft about.

For more information on Lake Taupo, contact Harbourmaster’s office by phone or email. Phone: (07) 378 7176. Email: philip.king@dia.gov.nz

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