Jet Ski Safety
A campaign has been launched to improve the behaviour of jet ski
users on Bay of Plenty waterways this summer.
As the number of jet skis has increased in recent years, so have
the number of accidents, incidents and near misses, says Bay of
Plenty Regional Council Harbourmaster - Western Bay, Jennifer
They're as powerful and as fast as a car but under current laws
anyone 15 and over can be in charge of a jet ski, no licence
"They can be a lot of fun and most people are well behaved and use
them safely but every year the number of incidents involving jet
skis increases," Jennifer says. "Given the huge influx of people to
our beaches and lakes every summer, that means people are being put
For more information about Navigation
Safety in the Bay of Plenty, visit our Navigation Safety pages
Most jet ski incidents in the Bay of Plenty involve males aged
about 17 to 30.
"We don't want to spoil anyone's fun but people need to be
reminded that they can have fun but be safe at the same time," she
says. "We want people to be mindful of others and to not fool
around and put themselves and others at risk."
The region's harbourmasters and maritime volunteers will be out in
force over the coming months reminding jet skiers of the rules and
how to enjoy their fun safely.
Jet ski users will be encouraged to wear life jackets rather than
just stow them on board which is all the law currently requires
them to do. They will also be encouraged to do a Coastguard day
skipper's course which will teach them the rules and all they need
to know to be safe.
Like boaties, jet ski users can be fined $200 for breaching
"Rather than hand out tickets right away, we mostly talk to
boaties, jet ski users and other people out on the water and find
that often, if they have done something wrong, it's because they
don't know the rules," Jennifer says.
"We want to ensure they do know the rules and hope they will then
pass on those messages to others. The last thing we want is people
getting injured or worse, killed, as a result of risky
Problems with jet ski users misbehaving in the region are most
prevalent on the lakes around Rotorua where there has already been
The whanau of Rotorua teenager Bishop Thompson, who was killed as
a result of a jet ski accident on Lake Okareka in January 2011, are
involved in the campaign.
Rotorua Lakes Maritime Officer, Ross Powell says last summer there
was an incident very similar to that which resulted in the death of
"It was also on Lake Okareka, two people on jet skis were
criss-crossing across each other's wakes, one got air and flew into
and over the other, knocking a person off. Luckily, they were
wearing life jackets.
"Jet skis are very fast and manoeuvrable and things can easily go
wrong if people are fooling around and don't know how to handle
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Harbourmaster - Eastern, Brian
Spake, says there are very few problems with jet ski users in the
Eastern Bay where some places have designated jet ski areas. He and
his staff and volunteers spend a lot of time talking to water users
and as a result, experience few issues but he says ahead of the
busy holiday period is a good time to remind all water users to
ensure they know the rules and are always mindful of others.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's maritime team is responsible
for a large area from Waihi Beach in the north to Lottin Point near
the East Cape and 12 nautical miles out to sea. They also oversee
the Rotorua lakes, the region's rivers and the harbours and
estuaries at Tauranga, Maketu, Thornton, Pukehina, Whakatane, Ohiwa
The use of the region's lakes, harbours, waterways and off-shore
areas are subject to the council's Navigation Safety Bylaw.
- You must be 15 or older to drive a powered vessel
that is capable of travelling faster than 10 knots, including jet
- You must not go faster than five knots:
- Within 50 metres of another vessel or person in the water
- Within 200 metres of the shore, a dive flag, or any
- The operator of any vessel, including a jet ski, must ensure
there is a lifejacket of the correct size and fit for each person
- You must ensure that your vessel's wake does not cause danger
or damage to boats or other water users.
- If you are skiing/towing there must also be an observer who is
older than 10 years in the vessel or on the jet ski.
- The person being towed must wear a lifejacket
- You can be fined $200 for breaching the bylaw.
Free copies of the Bay of Plenty Regional Navigation Safety
Bylaw 2010 are available from Bay of Plenty Regional Council
offices or by contacting the council on 0800 884 880 or at
Learn the safe way
Day Skipper Courses
Bay of Plenty Regional Council encourages all boat and jet ski
users to complete a Day Skipper course to ensure they know how to
operate their vessel safety and know the rules.
The courses are run by Coastguard Boating Education and are a
good way to learn the ropes and familiarise yourself with how to
safely operate a jet ski or other vessel and the rules that govern
our waterways to ensure the safety of everyone.
It is an introductory course suitable for all members of the
family and will help you gain essential boating and safety
knowledge. At the end of it you will receive a NZ Day Skipper
Certificate and unit standards are available.
You'll not only learn about the rules and regulations but also
about how to handle your vessel safely, being a responsible
operator and what to do in emergency situations.
Day Skipper courses are run throughout the country, including the
Bay of Plenty.
There are also jet ski-specific courses run by Coastguard in
some regions and instructors are willing to travel in some cases to
conduct a course elsewhere.
To find out about courses available where you live or where you
plan to holiday, go to www.boatingeducation.org.nz
and click on 'Courses'.