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Bar crossing

Crossing a bar is one of the riskiest things you’ll ever do, no matter how experienced you are.

There are three types of bar crossings – dangerous, very dangerous and extremely dangerous.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Waikato Regional Council joined forces to produce five films showing local bars and how to cross them safely. The films include Bowentown, Kaituna and Maketu bars in the Bay of Plenty and Raglan and Tairua in the Waikato.

Watch them at Bar Crossing Videos

Play it safe – it could save your life

  • Check the weather within 12 hours of heading out
  • Check the tide – always avoid low tide
  • Talk to a local about the bar conditions
  • Tie down any loose objects such as anchor and ropes
  • Everyone must wear a lifejacket
  • Contact Coastguard on VHF immediately before you cross and after you’ve  successfully crossed 
  • Avoid ebb or falling tides (between high tide and low tide, when water flows away from the shore)

You can build your confidence of crossing bars by joining a bar crossing course. Visit the Coastguard Boating website and join a course today:

The Whakatāne bar

The entrance to the Whakatāne Harbour can be difficult and caution should be taken during all bar crossings.

View the Whakatāne Bar Cam at

Bar condition reports are broadcast on radio station 1XX, along with marine forecast and sea conditions. 1XX broadcasts on 90.5 FM and 1242 AM, and at Ohope Beach on 92.9FM.

Bowentown Heads, Tauranga Harbour

A bar cam at Bowentown can be viewed at Bar Cams

Crossing the Bowentown bar is a whole lot safer thanks to some clever blue lights that have recently been installed on two existing beacons either side of the Bowentown bar. The lights are activated when it is deemed unsafe to cross. While the technology is currently only being trialled it is hoped the lights will be ‘live’ from early 2017.

Remember, if in doubt don’t go out!