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Know the rules

If you are out enjoying the region's lakes, rivers and harbours, make sure you know the navigation and safety rules. 

Skippers or drivers of any powerboat capable of speeds in excess of 10 knots must be 15 years of age or over. It is the skipper's responsibility to ensure the safety of the craft and crew on board. This includes knowing and understanding the rules of the road at sea. If you have an accident, ignorance of the rules set by the Navigation Safety Bylaw is not accepted as an excuse.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council has a statutory role in ensuring maritime safety in its region by developing Navigation Bylaws under the Maritime Transport Act 1994. These Bylaws are in place to minimise the risk of fatalities, injuries, nuisance, accidents, collisions, and damage in the Bay of Plenty navigable waters.

The Local Government Act 2002 requires Council to undertake a comprehensive review of its bylaws every ten years so an internal review of the effectiveness of the existing Bylaw is currently underway.

In 2023 we will be consulting on the new draft Regional Navigation Safety Bylaws.  If you have feedback or an enquiry in the meantime, please email

Important safety rules

5 knot marker

Okawa Bay rule

Okawa Bay is a five knot zone unless towing in the designated ski area, hence, all other boating, jetskiing or swimming activities must be contained within the perimeter area.

warning sign

Gnarly Gorge rule

For safety reasons, all vessels (including kayaks) are prohibited in the section of the Kaituna River named Pari Tūkino (commonly known as Gnarly Gorge) from 1 May 2019 for six months. Read the background to this decision and the Harbourmaster's direction.

warning sign

Hunters Creek rule

For safety reasons, the Hunters Creek ski area is closed to ski traffic for two hours either side of low tide. During this time the five knot rule applies.