Commercial Vessel Operation 

This page explains licensing and regulatory requirements for commercial vessel operators in the Tasman District. Licences are required, and must be renewed by 31 October each year.

To request more information or to discuss a proposed operation, please contact the Council Harbourmaster on 03 543 8400.

Licence Required

In order to operate a commercial service, scheduled, non-scheduled or offering rental services, a licence must first be obtained from Council.

Licences will only be issued when Council is satisfied that the operation:

  • will not diminish the level of safety of other activities in the vicinity;
  • will not cause congestion or any unsafe practice at points of embarkation or disembarkation, or at any place en route.

Summary of National Regulatory Requirements        

If a motorised vessel of any size is being used for ‘hire and reward’ in any way, then a number of requirements under The Maritime Transport Act 1994 and the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Maritime Rules also apply.

Maritime Operator Safety System

The Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) came into effect on 1 July 2014, replacing the former Safe Ship Management system. MOSS requires maritime operators to develop and maintain their own safety system covering all vessels in their operation. By putting a bigger focus on safety for vessel owners and operators, MOSS will improve safety outcomes.

Fishing Vessels and Non-motorised Craft

  • Commercial fishing vessels are subject to similar requirements, and must be registered with the Ministry of Fisheries.
  • Non-motorised vessels, including yachts and paddle craft like rafts and kayaks, are also subject to specialised Maritime Rules or Guidelines in most cases.

Any local enquiries regarding qualifying as a commercial skipper, or to bring a vessel into commercial operation, should be directed to the Industry Liaison Advisor at Maritime New Zealand’s office at 36 Graham Street, Port Nelson, phone 03 548 2434.

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Tasman District Regulatory Requirements        

Commercial Vessel Operation Licence

In addition to the requirements above, commercial vessel operators wishing to operate anywhere within the Tasman District territory (which includes all lakes and rivers as well as the waters out to twelve nautical miles seaward of the shore of the District) are subject to the requirement under the Navigation Safety Bylaw to hold either a Commercial Vessel Operation licence, or an exemption.

The primary objective of this requirement is to preserve the District’s reputation as a safe and enjoyable place for tourism and for boating and watersports in general. Accordingly, the requirement is not currently applied to genuine commercial fishing vessels and genuine workboats that do not carry passengers or frequent the more popular parts of the coastline.

If you intend to hire a vessel or other watercraft to anyone, or transport people who have paid for an experience (for example a charter boat or water-taxi, guided rafting or kayaking, guided trout fishing where a boat is used to access the water to be fished and so on) then please contact the Harbourmaster at or by contacting any Tasman District Council office to discuss your intentions.


Small-scale operations may apply for an exemption from the requirement to hold a licence, for example a campground or motel hiring or loaning small unpowered dinghies, sailboats or paddlecraft as ‘part of the package’. No annual charges apply if an exemption is held, but a renewal date of three to five years will be specified.

The operator will be required to demonstrate that the equipment is fit for purpose and that appropriate customer briefing and supervision procedures are documented (this can be a very simple plan in most cases), to the satisfaction of the Harbourmaster.

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Navigation Safety Bylaw        

Read full details of the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2015.

List of Licensed Commercial Vessel Operators        

The following is a list of current licence holders as at 1 April 2014 and their authorised vessels.

 Application or Renewal of Commercial Vessel Operation Licence

Licence NumberBusinessAuthorised Vessels
* = application in process, interim authority granted    
CO0004 The Sea Kayak Company (NZ) Sea Kayaks
CO0009 Kaiteriteri Boat Charters Charters
CO0010 Wilson's Abel Tasman  Vista II, Abel Tasman Voyager, Matangi, Ripple (barge), Sea Kayaks


CO0024 Golden Bay Kayaks

Sea kayaks, Stand-up paddleboards

CO0032 Marahau Water Taxis and Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi Kiwa, Bonniedoon, Odyssey, Matakana, Highlander, Ka Pai, Anapai, Muritai, Marahau Mana IV, Venture II, Tangaroa, Te Awatea, Tane, Wainui
CO0033 Catamaran Sailing Charters & Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures Jamarh, Alley Cat, Stray Cat, Mistify, Easy Rider, Kayaks (for charter client use)
CO0043 Parore Charter & Dive / Aquapackers Cat A Rac
CO0045 The Diverse Boating Company Valkyri, Vicugna, Vixen
CO0048 Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles Ataz II, Abel Dominator, Abel Tasman Crusader, Sand Shuttle, Tui (barge), Astrolabe (barge)
CO0050 ISS-McKay MS Caledonian Sky
CO0063 Abel Tasman Soul / Kayaking Abel Tasman Sea Kayaks
CO0068 Abel Tasman Charters Taranui, Marie Antonina, Kayaks (for charter client use)
CO0076 Mapua Ventures Mapua Ferry
CO0085 Buller Canyon Jet Buller Canyon Jet 1, Buller Canyon Jet 2
CO0087 W J Hadfield James Lee
CO0092 D Gilbertson / Coffee n Cruise Kaiteriteri Kermit
CO0094 Kahu Kayaks Hawk Eye, Kayaks
CO0095 The Hire Boat Company Fred
CO0103 Rotoiti Water Taxis Korimako, kayaks, canoes and row boats
CO0104 Watersports Kaiteriteri Kayaks
CO0106 Lake Rotoroa Water Taxi Lake Rotoroa Water Taxi
CO0109 Wild Cat Charters Mistral
CO0110 Strike Adventure New Zealand Strike Adventure
CO0111 Abel Tasman Dive Zero Gravity
CO0117 Kaiteriteri Kayaks & Stand-up Paddleboarding Kayaks, paddlecraft
CO0118 Abel Tasman SUP Kayaks, paddlecraft
CO0119 Abel Tasman Eco Tours Zeehaen
CO0120 R & R Kayaks Kayaks
CO0121 Tasman Bay Sea Kayaks Kayaks
CO0122 Waka Abel Tasman Wakas
CO0123 Awaroa Sea Kayaks  
COX0002 Gowan Bank Backpackers Canoes, row boat
COX0003 Affinity Charters Charters
COX0005 Adventures Unlimited Training activities only - Kayaks/paddlecraft
COX0007 Wilderness Canoe Trust Canoes
COX0011 Swafford Beach House Guest Use Kayaks

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Inactive Licences

This table lists licenses that are lapsed or (voluntarily) temporarily suspended.

# = licence temporarily suspended (voluntarily)

Licence NumberBusiness Vessels

CO0053 #

V King-Turner


CO0078 #

Seabird Charters


CO0081 #

Burkhard Strauch



Sail Nelson


CO0089 #

Cougar Cruises

Back Up


Jason Maxted / Bar B Cruises


CO0098 #

Nelson Sailing Adventures

French Polish

CO0100 #

Tom Addison



Island Escape Cruises

Island Escape and tenders

CO0107 #

Split Apple Lodge

Split Apple Lodge


Megisti Sailing Charters



Latitude South Charters

Aqua Vitae


Robyn Holmes


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Fees and Charges        

Commercial Vessel Operation licences are subject to an application fee and an annual charge, which are specified in the current Annual Plan. Licences are renewable annually, expiring on 31 October each year.

Unlicensed operators are liable to an instant fine or prosecution upon discovery.

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 Application or Renewal of Commercial Vessel Operation Licence

Related Pages

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