Boating in Hawkes Bay


Hawkes Bay is renowned for its vineyards, orchards and diversity of country, offering many recreational boating opportunities and experiences to visitors and locals alike. The Hawkes Bay regional council administers the inland waterways and coastal region. The navigation safety rules which relate to the use of these waterways are contained within the bylaws.

Complete information on the bylaws can be sourced from the Hawkes Bay Regional Council, the harbour master or on the website with the main points being covered in the Hawkes Bay water recreation guide.

This shows details of reserved areas, boat access lanes, speed upliftings and other important details to be aware of the Hawkes Bay region.

These rules are designed to ensure all who enjoy the region’s many water-based recreational activities and do so safely. These bylaws apply to all navigable waters within the Hawkes Bay region.

The approach channel to port is one important area to be aware of. Ocean-going ships move through the Napier pilotage area at all hours of day and night. All craft are required to keep well clear of shipping and must not approach closer than 500m in front and nor 100m to the side or aft of these large vessels respectively. Before entering port small craft must obtain permission from Hawkes Bay harbour radio on VHF channel 12.

Reserved areas to set aside for safe riding, windsurfing, sailing and jet skiing. They also specify areas of which anchoring, setting up nets, lines and crayfish pots is prohibited. These include the inner harbour, the port and the approaches to each of these areas.

Some inland waterways also have the standard 5 knot speed restriction uplifted. These areas are used mainly for water skiing, jet boating and jet skiing.

The Clive Ngaruroro River reserved area is sometimes very busy. It caters to a wide variety of users. These areas are categorized from A to F.

A. Non Restricted Area
B. Safety Buffer Area
C. Regulated Area
D. Rowing Area
E. Passive Water Activity Area
F. Shared Area

Napier airport is adjacent to the coastal area. For this reason, paragliding, kitesurfing and other airborne activities can only carried out with the approval of the Napier air traffic controller (Ph: 06 835 7584).

Boat access lanes exist at most popular beaches. When moving in any access lane, it is important to travel by the most direct route, keeping to the right hand side at all times. Boat speed may be more than five knots in access lanes.

When contemplating river-based water activities, it is important to check the river conditions first. Then only proceed if those conditions are favourable and your activities are witin the capabilities of both your craft and your experience. River vessels traveling upstream, must give way to any crafts traveling downstream.

Surfing is another activity enjoyed by many at various locations within the region. Be aware of the wave rules. These apply to areas reserved for safe riding at west shore.

Volunteer boating advisors, enforcement officers as well as the boating public, all have a role in reporting unsafe behaviour on the water.  (Phone: 0274 455 592)

Hawkes Bay volunteer coastguard is on call for marine search and rescue and to provide boat tows and other forms of assistance at sea.

  • Phone 111 or a mayday radio call for all marine emergencies where life is at risk.
  • or Phone: 0374 841 161.
  • or Coastguard VHF Channel 82).

These are just some of the measures applying through the bylaws and also how to get help if you need it.

Obeying the bylaws and other statutory rules, helps to ensure all water-based recreational activities are not only safe but also enjoyable whilst you’re on the waters here in the Hawkes Bay region.

Hawkes Bay Region Coucil website

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