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Auckland Transport

Water safety Water safety

Aucklanders love getting out on the water, make sure you know the rules designed to keep people safe throughout Auckland’s coastal and inland waters with the right equipment on board.

For full details on how to be safe on Auckland’s waterways, please consult the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2014 and Controls (PDF 4.8MB, 88 pages).

"No Excuses" campaign

The Harbourmaster's office will be part of the nationwide "No Excuses" summer boating campaign in association with Maritime NZ and Safer Boating.

Harbourmaster staff and Maritime NZ officers will be working together on the water enforcing action against boaties not carrying a lifejacket and those who speed on the water, which includes infringement notices of up to $300.

With enforcement action during the summer, learn more below about the rules and being safe on the water.

Orange banner with the words "No Excuses" in capital letters. Includes logos Maritime NZ and Safer Boating



  • You must carry a suitable lifejacket for every person on board your vessel.
  • If your boat is 6m or smaller, everyone on board must wear their lifejacket unless the skipper says it is safe to remove it.
  • Lifejackets must be worn on all vessels in times of increased risk.

Be a responsible skipper

  • Every boat must have a skipper.
  • The skipper is in charge of the safety of everyone on board and should know the boats limits.
  • Check the weather forecast first – if in doubt, don’t go out.
  • Carry a means of communication: mobile phone, VHF radio, flare or beacon. Communication equipment is an essential part of safe boating - if you can’t contact someone on shore to say you’re in trouble, nobody can rescue you.
  • Tell someone before you go out on the water.

Reduce your speed: around people, vessels and the shore

The speed of all vessels must be no more than 5 knots when the vessel is:

  • Within 50m of any other vessel.
  • Within 50m of any person in the water.
  • Within 200m of the shore, any structure or vessel flying a dive flag.

Speed-restricted areas

A permanent speed restriction applies in the following areas:

  • Bon Accord Harbour (Kawau Island) – 5 knots.
  • Waitemata Harbour (Harbour Bridge to North Head) – 12 knots.

Other restricted areas

Learn more about other Auckland Harbour restricted areas.

Avoid excessive alcohol

Alcohol can affect your ability to react when something goes wrong on the water:

  • The skipper in charge of a vessel must not be intoxicated.
  • Drinking alcohol could increase the likelihood of you ending up in the water by accident.
  • It can change the way your body reacts when entering the water.

Search for the nearest boat ramp, access tide times and get local information.

Jetskis and personal watercraft

  • You must observe the 5 knot speed limit as for all other vessels.
  • You must register your personal watercraft and display the registration number clearly on the vessel.
  • Jetskis and personal watercraft must be registered for Auckland, Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. Find out more about registering your jetski or personal watercraft.
  • Enjoy your personal watercraft but please show consideration for other water users.

Water skiing

Access lanes for water skiing are marked by orange and black posts on shore and/or orange and black buoys.

Use these access lanes when departing or approaching the beach if your vessel is travelling at more than 5 knots.

Important water skiing rules:

  • You must observe the 5 knot speed rule at all times.
  • All ski boat drivers must be over 15 years of age.
  • Any vessel towing a water-skier must have on board an observer in addition to the driver.

Find out more about Water ski & wakeboard areas and access lanes.

Windsurfers and kitesurfers

  • When using your windsurfer or kiteboard you must keep clear of any person in the water. Minimum 50 metres if travelling at more than 5 knots.
  • Enjoy your sport but please show respect and consideration for other water users.


For your own safety always:

  • Dive in pairs.
  • Avoid diving in areas where there is a lot of boat traffic.
  • Display the International Code “A” Flag from your dive vessel (this must be a solid replica of the Code“A” Flag and be a minimum of 600mm in the hoist).
  • If diving without a vessel, please make your location conspicuous by using an appropriate buoy and dive flag to mark your location.


There are a number of mooring zones around the Auckland region. If you wish to permanently moor a vessel anywhere in the Auckland region you will need to first obtain a mooring licence. Find out more about moorings in Auckland.

For more information

Contact Auckland Transport