The Chatham Islands has about 360 kilometres of coastline that is used extensively for commercial fishing as well as recreation.

We are required by the Local Government Act 2002(external link) and the Maritime Transport Act 1994(external link) to promote, maintain and sustain a safe environment for both commercial and recreational maritime activities in the Chatham Islands’ waterways.

Any accident or incident involving the cruise ship, or its tender operation, must be reported to the Harbourmaster immediately and followed up with a written report with 48 hours. A report must also be made to Maritime New Zealand(external link).

Harbour control is undertaken primarily to ensure safety in our waterways.

Chatham Islands Navigation Safety Bylaws 2013

The Chatham Islands Navigation Safety Bylaws manage and regulate navigation safety in those waters of the Chatham Islands as defined in the bylaws. 

The bylaws became operative in August 2013.

Large vessels

The Chatham Islands is remote, sparsely populated and has little in the way of infrastructure to deal with any possible shipping incident.

As such, no large vessel such as a cruise ship shall enter into, or remain within, the Chatham Islands Area of Restricted Access (‘the Area’) without the prior approval of the Harbourmaster.

For more information on Navigation Safety Operating Requirements for large vessels, view the Chatham Islands Navigation Safety Operating Requirements 2020 [PDF, 8.1 MB] and the Harbourmaster’s Direction 17-1 [PDF, 226 KB].

Marine oil spills

We prepare maintain and review Regional Marine Oil Spill Contingency Plans as required by the Maritime Transport Act 1994(external link).


Contact details for Regional Harbourmaster Joshua 'Joss' Thomas are as follows: