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Update from Jim Dilley - Regional Harbourmaster - Manager, Coastal Team

It’s been a wee while since our last newsletter. I hope you’ve all been enjoying a summer of boating and getting out and enjoying our coast, rivers, and lakes. 

Our team now has an additional focus looking after the areas we all use and love. Our new Harbourmaster’s Office – Coastal Team enables us to provide a variety of advice on our region’s coastal areas.

This can include information on discharge requirements from ships, what the rules say about taking sand from a beach, helping to plan events on the water, and mitigating hazards for marine mammals. 

By having a single team working together we can efficiently respond to incidents, provide key advice, and be a single point of contact for the community.

We are working on making information more accessible for everyone. All mooring information is available online, including the current authorised position and details of moorings. We are also compiling information to help people identify a pollution incident out on the water.

Let us know what you think, we always welcome feedback. 

You can find out more about the members of our Harbourmaster’s Office – Coastal Team and their roles here, and read their updates below.  

Mussel harvesting at a marine farm. 

When might really is right!

There are what we call “rules of the road” that clearly set out who gives way to who out on the water. A commonly known phrase, “steam gives way to sail”, means that as a general rule, power-driven vessels must give way to vessels under sail.

However, there are some exceptions to this – particularly within harbours.

One exception is vessels that can only navigate within a narrow channel, such as the entry channel of Lyttelton port, have right of way over vessels that can safely operate outside the channel. That big container ship heading in or out of the channel really does have right of way over your yacht! 

Another exception is that might, quite literally, has right of way within a harbour area. In simple terms, anything 500 tonne or greater has right of way over anything smaller.  While the reasons for this, including differences in manoeuvrability, should be obvious, there is one key point that must be made - regardless of what anyone may like to think about anyone’s rights, your small boat will lose a fight against a big ship and that could be fatal.  

We raise this because there have been several instances of risky manoeuvring in the harbour. This has included cases where yachts have motored between the oil wharf and an arriving tanker (as shown below). 

As well as being extremely risky for the small boat, anyone doing this is also making life very difficult for those on board the large ship as they may have to make sudden evasive moves which could create greater risk to their own ship.  Professionals on these ships have a serious job to do getting their ship safely from one place to another – this includes avoiding collisions, so people risking their own life by squeezing through small gaps doesn’t help. 

The worst-case outcome for this would be someone’s death, so ask yourself: are those few minutes you may save by going for the gap worth that risk?

A yacht between Lyttelton's oil wharf and an arriving tanker.  
Wear a leash while surfing

If you’re out on the water surfing, be sure to wear a leash to help prevent accidents.

We’ve seen several surfers not wearing leashes this summer, putting themselves and others at risk.

Find out more about the importance of wearing surf leashes here

Update from Ian Fox - Harbourmaster

It’s been a busy time on our waterways lately. Commercial shipping, apart from cruise ships, hasn’t really slowed throughout the pandemic and recreational boating has exploded as many people are buying boats instead of overseas trips.

On top of this we’ve been undertaking an extensive rebuild of our internal safety management system and our coastal and inland communications networks are growing.

We’re also pleased to have several new team members join us and they are getting stuck into their roles and seeing how they can contribute and help improve our processes.  

My role is to ensure all this stuff can, and does, get done as smoothly as practicable. What makes this easy is having a great group of people here who genuinely care about the safety of those out on the water. 

While most of my work is office based, I do get around our region for both work (and my own recreation!) as much as I can and I like taking photos of our fantastically scenic region - the panorama below, showing the view of Te Manahuna (the Mackenzie Basin) from one of our planned inland radio sites, was taken on a recent site visit trip.

Update from Guy Harris - Deputy Harbourmaster (Systems and Commercial Shipping)

It’s been a busy few years in the commercial shipping world with the industry putting in a massive effort to keep supplies and trade going in the face of COVID-19. 

Included in this effort is our local ports at Lyttelton and Timaru, which have shown great leadership and professionalism while adapting to changing processes and procedures. It would be fair to say that Canterbury could not operate at the high standard it does without their expertise and commitment.

To make sure that Lyttelton and Timaru port companies and the Harbourmaster’s Office are consistent with safety best practice in their respective marine activities, all three of us are signatories to the Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code (the Code), which is a voluntary standard that supports national and local legislation.

It encourages collaboration between commercial ports, councils, and Maritime New Zealand to provide a safe operating environment within ports and harbours. 

If you want to know more about the Code click here

Lyttelton Inner Harbour.

Update from Gary Manch - Deputy Harbourmaster (Operations) – recently retired 

After a rewarding seven years here, I’ll sadly have retired by the time you read this. I’m pleased to say, though, that Gordon McKay and John Kent are onboard and have taken over the reins, so you’re in very capable hands. 

Something important to note is the record level of boat sales we’ve seen in New Zealand, including powerboats and jet skis. This means more and more vessels are competing for space on our waterways.

The message from the Harbourmaster’s Office about this is quite simple: learn the rules. 
  • If you’re going to a new area, check the Navigation Safety Bylaw, and most of all, follow the five principles from the Safer Boating Code: always carry two forms of waterproof communications equipment that work in the area you’re in, check the weather, wear an appropriately fitted lifejacket, don’t consume alcohol (save it until you’re on shore!), and finally, be a responsible skipper. 

It’s been great to see lots of people complying with the Bylaw in relation to having identification on their vessel. Sadly, there is still room for improvement, so make sure you’re aware of what’s required in Part 5 (20) of the Bylaw. The rules are there for you to follow. 

It continues to be a busy season out there, so please take care and treat everyone on the water with respect. 

Update from Gordon McKay - Deputy Harbourmaster (Operations)

Lately, a significant part of my role has been overseeing a large marine VHF radio network project over our most heavily used inland waterways. 

The aim of the network is to improve boating safety by providing reliably monitored VHF coverage throughout the Waimakariri River, Mackenzie and Waitaki Lakes. The network will be comprised of a simulcast repeater working channel for each area, and Channel 16 across the lakes, all of which will be fully monitored.  

The network is proposed to have four sites up the Waimakariri River, which will cover from the sea and up to Mount White. There will also be four or five sites through the Mackenzie and Waitaki Lakes. 

The planning stages are mostly done now, we completed visits to all the proposed sites with radio and construction engineers in December, and we expect to begin construction this year. 

This inland network will add to our existing coastal monitoring network, primarily aimed at commercial shipping, which is nearing completion with the last two stations soon to be built in Kaikoura and Waimate. 

Some of the coastal sites now have cameras, which you can view here, and where practicable we aim to install similar cameras on the new inland sites.

A boating safety patrol with the Department of Conservation. 

Update from John Kent - Navigation Safety Officer

With the boating season still in full swing, I’m focused on being a friendly face out on the water. I want to help everyone, from paddlers to powerboats, enjoy their respective aquatic activities safely

As the newest member to the team, getting to know our area of operations and the people using the lakes, rivers, and harbours is a vital and enjoyable part of my role. 

We have also just completed a new education trailer, complete with virtual reality (VR) devices, that will help us educate more people about safe boating practices. Inside the VR program, you can learn how to prepare your boat for a day on the water and even get behind the wheel and practice safe navigation. The trailer will play a crucial role in an upcoming youth education program currently in development.

This program will focus on teaching boating safe practices to kids at school, which will lead to better educated and safer adults in years to come.

Update from Emma Parr - Coastal Response and Readiness Lead

I’m responsible for ensuring appropriate responses to incidents within our region's coastal area. This includes responding to shipping incidents, such as fires, groundings and collisions, and pollution incidents such as oil spills and vessel discharges. 

Overall, my aim is to ensure we have a consistent response to incidents that is based on interagency cooperation and planning.  I have an extensive background in incident response, working with Civil Defence, Maritime New Zealand’s National Response Team and am the appointed Regional on Scene Commander for Marine Oil Spills. 

I’ve been busy these last few months ensuring that any site that transfers oil over water is fully compliant and prepared to react to a spill. Understanding the risks associated with activities and getting visibility in my role around the region is my ongoing priority.   


South Bay, Kaikōura.

Update from Emily McLaughlin - Coastal and Land Management Advisor

I’ve been with the team for a couple of years now and have recently stepped into the role of Coastal Land Management Advisor. I’m here to help with advice and education about all things regarding the coastal environment. 

If you have any concerns, or need help with a project, feel free to get in touch by replying to this email and I’m happy to support in any way I can.

Lead agencies with responsibilities for our natural environment.

Update from Josh McDonald-Davis - Maritime Environment Officer

I’ve recently taken over from Emily as the new Maritime Environment Officer and have been busy getting to know stakeholders in the Lyttelton Port area and wider Banks Peninsula. I’ve also been further afield to look at aquaculture activities throughout Canterbury. 

If you have any questions about your consent or consented activities in the Lyttelton Port area or Banks Peninsula, please get in touch. If you happen to observe any environment incidents in the coastal marine area, please call 0800 765 588 to report it, or use the Snap Send Solve app to from your mobile phone. 

Sediment boom at Akaroa. 

Update from Raelyn Eades - Maritime Authorisations Officer

I’ve been at Environment Canterbury for fourteen years in the finance area and have recently taken up the role of Maritime Authorisations Officer.

I’ve been looking at how we can communicate more effectively with our mooring owners and keep costs down. We now send out a generic email to all mooring owners three months in advance of when the mooring is due to be inspected, and we have asked mooring owners to let us know who their preferred contractor is so that we can liaise with them directly where appropriate. 

If you want to rent a mooring, please check our moorings for lease page and see if there’s something that suits your needs.