Water sports

Tasman District is a great place for getting out and about on the water.

Guide to Boating and Water Sports in Tasman District (pdf, 2.2 MB) (pdf, 3.3 MB)


More information about kayaking in the Tasman District can be found on the Nelson Canoe Club website.

Nelson Canoe Club(external link)

Sea Kayaking

The Maritime Rules and Navigation Safety Bylaws apply to all small craft, including kayaks.

Kayakers are encouraged to travel close to shore. Within 200 metres of shore other vessels are prohibited from travelling at speeds greater than 5 knots (except in water ski areas or access lanes).

Small paddle craft can be hard to see and usually do not show on a boat’s radar. Kayaks and other similar small craft are encouraged to follow Maritime NZ guidelines and to display a brightly coloured flag or ensure that paddle blades are brightly coloured to aid visibility.

For the same reason, kayaks should be finished in a colour that contrasts with the marine environment. You are not permitted to operate a kayak after sunset or before sunrise unless you have appropriate navigation lights.

Waterski lanes or areas are marked with orange and black or black and white posts that are placed on the beach at about the high tide mark. Orange and black or black and white buoys may also be placed on the water out to 200 metres off shore. When water ski lanes or areas are in use for waterskiing, other craft, including kayaks, may not enter the area. Please either wait until the ski area or lane is not occupied before proceeding quickly across it, or pass around the outside of the area at least 200 metres from shore.

Do not kayak alone and always wear a lifejacket and carry two effective means of communication.

Be aware that the favourable conditions usually enjoyed in this region over summer can rapidly change. Do not paddle in rough or windy conditions and ensure you have the right clothing to keep warm. Sit-on-top kayaks should not be used when the wind is blowing offshore.

River kayaking

There is some excellent white water kayaking available in the Buller catchment centred around Murchison.

People should have some experience with white water kayaking before venturing into the rivers. There are also several commercial operators around the region who cater for a full range of experience levels.

Kite surfing and wind surfing

Tasman regions offers a great choice of locations for windsurfing and kitesurfing:

  • Rabbit Island, Richmond
  • Ruby Bay, Tasman
  • Mārahau
  • Pōhara, Golden Bay
  • Patons Rock, Golden Bay
  • Pākawau, Golden Bay
  • Westhaven Inlet, Golden Bay
  • Patarau, Golden Bay

Jet boats and other crafts on rivers

A person in charge of a vessel on a river must:

  • Ensure that the vessel keeps to the starboard (right) side of the river channel; and
  • If going upstream, give way to any vessel coming downstream; and
  • Not operate the vessel unless river and weather conditions permit safe operation of the vessel.

Locations and times where the speed limit on rivers is uplifted:

  • Aorere River: 1 September to 30 November, the speed limit is uplifted only from Brown River confluence to Rockville
  • Aorere River: 1 December to 31 August, the speed limit is uplifted only from Brown River confluence to the sea
  • Buller River: the speed limit is uplifted only for the waters and all tributaries downstream from the confluence of the Buller and the Mangles River to the boundary of the region.
  • Takaka River: the speed limit is uplifted only between the source of the river to the State Highway Bridge at Waitapu, when the flow measured at Kotinga exceeds 60 cumecs (see note).
  • Motueka River: the speed limit is uplifted only from the Tapawera Bridge to the State Highway Bridge at Motueka.
  • Waimea and Wairoa Rivers: the speed limit is uplifted only from the confluence of the Lee River to the sea when the flow at Wairoa at Irvines is at least 45 cumecs (see note).

At other times and places, maximum speed is 5 knots over the ground.

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