Ports and harbours

Vessels that visit New Zealand’s ports and harbours must comply with safety, security and environmental protection regulations.

Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan

At the request of the Minister, the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group has published the Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan to address the issue of serious harm on ports. The plan lays out the foundation for the group’s multi-year harm prevention programme. Maritime NZ is a member of the Leadership Group, which is made up of employers, unions, the Port Industry Association and government agencies, all working together to improve safety in New Zealand’s ports.

Port Sector Insights Picture and Action Plan [PDF: 2.19Mb, 32 pages]

Find out more about the Port Health and Safety Leadership Group.

Port Health and Safety Leadership Group

Port safety update [31 May 2022]

The regulations for New Zealand’s ports and harbours are set out in various acts and rules as well as a number of international maritime conventions and agreements that New Zealand is a signatory of. These apply to cargo and passenger vessels, fishing boats, charter boats and all other commercial and recreational craft.

New Zealand’s ports are essential economic assets. They are a vital part of our transport network as well as being critically important to the fishing industry.

Safer Ports 

Through the Port Sector Insights and Action Plan, the Leadership Group recommended that the health and safety activities Maritime NZ already performs on ships be extended onto the land side of New Zealand’s 13 major ports. Following Government confirmation and approval, on 1 July 2024 Maritime NZ became the responsible health and safety regulator on New Zealand’s 13 major ports.

Safer Ports



Fatigue risk management

The Port Health and Safety Leadership Group has published good practice guidelines for building a fatigue risk management system in the port environment. Maritime NZ is a member of the Leadership Group – it supports the guidelines and encourages their use in all New Zealand ports. The tripartite Leadership Group is made up of employers, unions and government agencies working together to improve safety in New Zealand’s ports. It is chaired by the Director of Maritime NZ.

Building a Fatigue Risk Management System: Good practice guidelines for the ports industry [PDF: 760kB, 79 pages]

Approval of equivalent arrangements for pilot transfers

Transferring pilots while underway is a high-risk operation. Despite regulation and despite the standard operating procedures practised by ports, pilotage providers, and ships’ crews, maritime pilots in New Zealand still face risks to their health and safety when using pilot ladders.

The purpose of this guidance is to advise all stakeholders of Maritime New Zealand’s position regarding the safe provision of so-called ‘trapdoor’ arrangements for pilot transfers while underway. Stakeholders include pilots, ships’ masters, ships’ owners/operators, ships’ agents, port companies, harbour authorities, marine managers, MNZ marine officers and Port State Control inspectors.

Pilot ladder guidance [PDF: 403 kB, 4 pages]

Maritime Transport (Approval of Equivalent Pilot Transfer Arrangement) Notice 2021

The notice of the Director’s approval for this arrangement can be read here.

Maritime NZ has endorsed this Good practice guide for the healthy and safe transfer of maritime pilots. This voluntary guideline provides practical advice for maritime pilots, pilot launch masters and crew on good health and safety practices for the safe transfer of pilots between vessels.

Healthy and safe transfer of maritime pilots - good practice guide [PDF: 672kB, 22 pages]


Position Statements

Health and safety during pilot transfers: MNZ position statements - February 2018 [PDF: 190kB, 3 pages] Having the conduct of the ship: MNZ position statement - April 2018 [PDF: 189kB, 2 pages]


Port and harbour safety

The New Zealand Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code provides measures for the safe management of ships in ports and harbours. It also includes measures to prevent serious harm to people and protection for the marine environment.

Port and harbour safety


Security in port operations

New Zealand, like many other countries, has adopted the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Port facility security is considered to be a risk management activity. This code provides a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities.

The Maritime Security Act 2004 and its associated regulations bring the requirements of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code into legislation.

Security in port operations

Maritime security


Environmental requirements for ports and harbours

All ports (as well as vessels and installations) in New Zealand waters, must comply with a range of environmental regulations to ensure the sustainable use and protection of our oceans for future generations.

These regulations cover:

  • the discharge of waste, including oil, chemicals, garbage and sewage
  • what is permitted to be dumped at sea
  • the provision of port waste reception facilities
  • the requirement for oil spill contingency plans for oil transfer sites.

Requirements for ports and harbours


Inspection of foreign ships

The inspection and control of foreign ships that arrive in New Zealand is another of the ways that the New Zealand Government ensures the protection of life and property at sea and the preservation of New Zealand’s marine environment.

The inspection of foreign ships


Crane safety

Find out about the work Maritime NZ is doing with industry and stakeholders to address safety issues around lifting appliances on foreign vessels in NZ.

Read about crane safety


Vessel Management Framework

The Vessel Management Framework was initially developed for Cargo and Commercial vessels to ensure safe cargo operations and pilotage at a time when the Maritime Border was closed due to COVID-19.

With the Maritime Border now open, it continues to be a useful tool that may be used to help to manage the public health risk posed by vessels with known or suspected cases of COVID-19 onboard.

The Framework has been prepared for port operators, unions, agents, government agencies and the National Public Health Service to follow for ensuring the safe and collaborative management of vessels with COVID-19 on board at the maritime border. The framework clarifies the roles and responsibilities for all parties involved, and provides a process map and templates to guide users for safe cargo operations and pilotage. You can find the guidance in the documents listed below.

Since the Vessel Management Framework was published, a Director General exemption has been granted (July 2022), that means that pratique will not be withheld on the basis that there are COVID-19 cases on board. It is important to keep this exemption in mind when consulting this guidance document.  The document continues to be revised, including for Cruise and recreational vessels and an updated version will be published when completed.

A guidance document containing considerations for cruise vessels is also now available below. This reflects that the Vessel Management Framework is cargo vessel focused, but may still be used for Cruise and other recreational vessels where considered appropriate.

Vessel Management Framework - COVID-19 [www.tewhatuora.govt.nz] Considerations for cruise vessels [PDF: 620kB, 4 pages]


Delegation of Director’s statutory powers

Request delegation of Maritime NZ Director’s statutory powers to assist you to carry out your functions as a harbourmaster.

Request for delegation of statutory powers [PDF: 201kB, 5 pages]