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Published: 2012-12-21 00:00:00

Crossing bars is the riskiest activity that boaties will undertake when out on the open water and Waikato Regional Council is urging extra care over the summer holidays.

“When heading out on the water, it is important to keep family and friends safe. If you are in any doubt about crossing a bar, we’d urge you not to attempt it,” said the council’s navigation safety programme manager, Nicole Botherway.

“The forecasts for the next week suggest the weather could be very changeable and it is especially important that boaties check conditions before heading out onto the water.”

Mrs Botherway said there are a few simple rules boaties can follow to significantly lower the danger to themselves and others on board when crossing bars. These include:

  • Talk to locals and check the weather, tide and bar conditions.
  • Check the harbourmaster bar crossing advisory through VHF radio, or on signage at main boat ramps.
  • Secure all moveable objects.
  • Everyone on board is required to wear securely-fitting lifejackets.
  • Contact the local Coastguard or Maritime Radio immediately before and after crossing the bar.
  • When going out, approach the bar at moderate speed, maintain course, ideally at high water, and not when the tide is going out.
  • When returning, cross when the tide is coming in.
  • Never turn around when attempting to cross the bar.

To educate boaties on bar crossings Coastguard units with the support of Waikato Regional Council are holding bar crossing education courses in three locations in the New Year.   

The first, a Whangapoua Bar crossing day, will be held on 5 January at the Matarangi Fire Station at 10am. To register, call 07 866 2883 or email 

A Tairua Bar crossing day will be held on 19 January at the Pauanui Fire Station, starting at 9am. To register, email

A Raglan Bar crossing day will be held on 10 March at the Raglan Fire Station, starting at 8.30am. To register, email