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Published: 2016-11-28 09:00:00

The weekend bar crossing tragedy on the Kaipara Harbour emphasises the need for Waikato boaties to take care crossing bars, says Waikato Regional Council.

Waikato has risky bars at Kawhia and Raglan on the west coast, and Tairua on the east coast,

“Crossing a bar is the riskiest thing boaties can face, no matter how experienced they are,” said martime services team leader Richard Barnett.

“Conditions on any bar can change quickly and without warning. The conditions you experience when you leave a safe harbour for the sea aren’t necessarily what you will encounter when you return.” 

Mr Barnett said many experienced boaties have got into difficulty crossing a bar and often boats are damaged and people are killed or injured when attempts to navigate bar crossings go wrong.

He emphasised some key tips for staying safe:

  • 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 outgoing tides (between high tide and low tide, when water flows away from the shore).

“If in doubt, don't go out,” said Mr Barnett.

The council has been taking a very proactive approach to encourage bar crossing safety.

Last week it announced views of a bar crossing safety video have now easily cracked the 200,000 mark on YouTube alone.

Videos were released in 2014 after the council teamed up with counterparts in the Bay of Plenty (which has the Bowentown and Kaituna bars), Coastguard NZ, Maritime NZ and Water Safety NZ.

The videos are available at: