Commercial Rafting Operations

Changes to regulation of the commercial rafting sector

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The government is changing the regulation of commercial river rafting.

This activity is currently regulated by Maritime New Zealand under Maritime Rule Part 81.

From 1 October 2020, commercial river rafting will be subject to the Health and Safety (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 managed by WorkSafe.

This change will streamline the regulatory oversight of rafting and enable all adventure activities to be brought under the umbrella of the adventure activity regulatory system.

Key dates

The Amendment Rules will commence on 1 November 2019. These will provide for the revocation of Rule Part 81 on 1 October 2020.

From 1 April 2020, operators will be able to submit applications to WorkSafe for registration as an adventure activity operator. This enables pre-registration audits to be undertaken. Registration itself cannot occur prior to 1 October 2020.

Any certificate of compliance valid on or after 1 November 2019 will remain in force until 1 October 2020, unless suspended or revoked by Maritime NZ Director.

Frequently asked questions

What is the last date that Maritime Rule Part 81 has effect?

30 September 2020 is the last day on which Part 81 has effect.

1 October 2020 is the date on which WorkSafe assumes responsibility for the regulation of commercial rafting operators now regulated by Maritime NZ.

What happens if my current certificate of compliance expires before 1 November 2019?

These certificates will be assessed by Maritime NZ in the usual way.

Applications will be reviewed and information checked and updated. Maritime NZ will contact the operator and confirm whether there have been any changes in the nature or ownership of the operation.

The safe operating plan must be disclosed and is reviewed, and a new Fit and Proper Person form must be completed.

This process will not usually include a site visit or other audit or inspection of the kind undertaken for original certification or where a safety or compliance issue has been raised.

What happens if my current certificate is due to expire between 1 November 2019 and 30 September 2020?

The Amendment Rules will continue these certificates in force up to and including 30 September 2020.

You will be issued with a new certificate to show the new expiry date. You will not be charged for this.

What should new operators do between now and September 2020?

Any new river rafting operators must seek Maritime NZ certification until Part 81 is revoked.

Applications from new operators require an on-site visit during which the rafting operation is inspected and assessed. A range of information is collected and reviewed as part of the process. Further, the Director must be satisfied with the results of any audit undertaken before approving a safe operational plan, and before issuing a certificate of compliance.

Will Maritime New Zealand continue to have a role?

Yes. General maritime law obligations will still apply to rafting and can be enforced by Maritime New Zealand under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 (the MTA).

What Maritime NZ fees and levies will apply?

The certification fee from 1 July to 31 October 2019 is $368 (including GST). Certificates current and valid as at 1 November 2019 will be continued in force until 30 September 2020 (ie, until Part 81 is revoked).

The annual Maritime levy that operators have been paying will continue to apply until Maritime Rule Part 81 is revoked. (Levy funding allows Maritime NZ to provide and maintain services that benefit the maritime sector. The Levy applies whether or not operators use or benefit from the functions and activities it funds.)

What consultation was there?

The proposal to revoke Rule Part 81 and bring commercial rafting operations under the umbrella of WorkSafe’s adventure activities regime has been under consideration since 2015.

Since that time WorkSafe and Maritime NZ with the New Zealand Rivers Association have discussed and developed arrangements for how this can best occur.

The objective has been to provide as much clarity and certainty as possible, and sufficient time for operators to plan and prepare for the new WorkSafe system.

How will raft hire/rentals be affected?

Material is being developed to address the non-adventure activity operator rafting and hire situations, which will cover raft hire responsibilities.

This is expected to be included in WorkSafe’s Good Practice guide.

Contact us for more information

If you have any questions about the change from the Part 81 regime to the Adventure Activities system, please email: or email Maritime NZ

For more information