This page lists general guidelines and safety information. Aids to Navigation for particular ports and wharves are posted in that section. Aids to Navigation for individual ports and wharves are posted in Locations of Ports and Wharves.

Keep Your Charts up to Date 

The official ‘road maps’ of the sea are the paper and electronic nautical charts published by Land Information New Zealand. The largest scale chart of the area you are boating in should always be carried, and kept up to date. You can subscribe for free Notices to Mariners at

Remember that most electronic chart plotters and GPS units do not update automatically – you must buy a new card after an update.

Report Mishaps or Groundings

You must report any unintentional grounding or other mishap as soon as practicable to:

  • Maritime New Zealand on VHF Channel 16 or by calling 0508 225522, and
  • the Tasman District Council Harbourmaster on 03 543 8400.

Navigation Lights 

All boats must show lights from sunset to sunrise and whenever visibility is restricted when underway or at anchor.

Ensure that you meet the minimum standards for a boat of your size and type. Note that vessels over 7m long must also show a black ball if anchored during the day. A black buoy hung from the forward rail is ideal.

Maritime Rule Part 22 specifies lighting requirements, as well as the 'rules of the road' at sea.

For more information visit the Maritime New Zealand website:

Aids to Navigation 

Details of some aids to navigation (marks) are provided below. If you are not familiar with these ‘signposts of the seas’, you should consider taking a boating education course, such as Coastguard Dayskipper or Boatmaster. See for details.

The Basics

The basics are hold red lateral marks on your port (left hand) side and green lateral marks on your starboard (right hand) side when entering a harbour. Obviously, it’s the other way around when departing! When travelling along the coast, hold the green fairway marks on your starboard side when travelling clockwise around the South Island.

Information on the official NZ system of Buoys and Beacons can be found on the Maritime NZ website:

Informal Markers

There are number of informal channel marks installed by local users for their own convenience in various parts of the district, particularly Motueka, Riwaka, Waitapu, Milnthorpe and Westhaven Inlet. These should not be relied on for navigation, but are generally tolerated so long as they have minor amenity affects and can’t be confused with genuine (approved) aids to navigation.


Please notify the Harbourmaster on 03 543 8400 if you find that any aid to navigation has moved or is absent or not functional, or you consider that changes in the channel warrant consideration of repositioning. Please quote the CST number if known.

Any person or organisation wishing to install, remove or alter an aid to navigation should discuss it with the Harbourmaster. A form countersigned by the Harbourmaster must be lodged to apply for formal consent from MaritimeNZ.

Please also note that it is against the law to tie up to or interfere with any aid to navigation, except in a genuine emergency or if you have the written approval of the owner or the Harbourmaster. Avoidable outages of lights or changes in position of navigation marks can endanger lives, and cost the ratepayers to put right.