Three new bar cameras recently installed by the Waikato Regional Council’s harbourmasters will help boaties make better decisions before attempting to cross dangerous bars, the council says.
The cameras have been installed at Port Waikato, Raglan, and Kāwhia, with a live feed available for Tairua.
“Crossing a bar is a high-risk activity for even the most experienced boatie,” the council’s maritime services team leader Richard Barnett said.
“A responsible skipper is well prepared and makes informed decisions before heading out. Around New Zealand, there have been a number of deaths in recent years caused when boaties have attempted to cross dangerous bars at the mouths of our harbours.
“There are many causes, but one of them is a lack of information about the conditions of the bar before setting out.”
So the council’s harbourmasters carried out safety audits for Port Waikato and Raglan harbours and consulted with key stakeholders including Waiuku Coastguard, Raglan Coastguard, Counties Fishing Club, Raglan Sport Fishing club, and Waikato Sport Fishing Club.
“It was unanimously agreed that bar cameras would help the public assess and make better-informed decisions before attempting a bar crossing,” Barnett said.
The project, which cost $17,500, was made possible through the help of the Waikato Regional Council Innovation Fund and Vodafone. The cameras are independently powered by a solar battery and send out a refreshed image every minute via the Vodafone Wireless Network.
Barnett adds that the cameras will also aid in the rescue of any capsized boat by providing up-to-date real-time positions of where the vessel and its occupants are. In the case of Raglan, which has jet skis as rescue vessels, the cameras can help responders decide which unit is best to use.
The availability of the live feeds came ahead of the traditional start of the boating season, Labour Weekend, and as Safer Boating Week kicked off.
All images are available at waikatoregion.govt.nz/safe-bar-crossings along with bar crossing videos for Raglan and Tairua in the Waikato region, and Bowentown and Kaituna (Maketu) in the Bay of Plenty.