Cleaning your boat

Keeping your hull clean has lots of benefits. To protect our marine environment, there are rules about how and where you can do it in Northland.

Why clean my boat's hull?

A clean hull is important to help keep a vessel in good shape and improve its fuel economy and speed. Having a hull free from hitchhiking pests also helps protect Northland's precious marine environment.

How do I keep my hull clean?

Antifouling paint cover is the easiest way to do this. Regular haul-outs for cleaning your hull and reapplying antifouling is crucial. However, as the ingredients in antifouling paint – including copper – can harm marine life, they must be applied and removed with careful consideration.

Where can I clean my hull?

We advocate the use of dedicated boat maintenance facilities for routine maintenance, including hull cleaning between antifouling.

No hull maintenance can be undertaken on the foreshore. This includes the cleaning, scraping, sanding, blasting, painting or anti-fouling of a vessel hull on the foreshore.

The only exception is at an authorised facility, such as a consented grid (with approval of the grid owner and following grid rules).

In-water hull cleaning can be undertaken in limited circumstances, as described below.

In-water hull cleaning rules

In-water cleaning of vessel hull and niche areas or structures in the coastal marine area or a river is a permitted activity, provided:

  1. the vessel or structure has not been in foreign territorial waters, unless a) since arrival in New Zealand, it has been removed from the water and cleaned
  2. there is only light fouling or barnacles
  3. the cleaning is not undertaken within 50 metres of a Significant Ecological Area, and
  4. the vessel is not a barge, and
  5. the in-water cleaning of the vessel or structure is undertaken in an in-water cleaning zone, and
  6. the cleaning method does not compromise existing anti-fouling, and
  7. if any marine pest is found then a) all cleaning must cease, and b) the Regional Council's biosecurity manager and the Ministry for Primary Industries must be notified immediately.

Find out where the In-water cleaning zones are – open the map online

Light fouling is defined as “A slime layer, and any extent of barnacles and small patches (up to 100mm in diameter) of visible macrofouling totalling less than five percent of the normally wetted hull and niche areas.”

To report a marine pest, please email: [email protected] and we will tell you what to do next to prevent spreading the pest.

Before you clean

If – and only if – you meet the strict requirements for in-water cleaning, there are still a number of factors to consider. Northland's marinas, wharfs and jetties have their own rules too: check first. Don't work in busy areas such as commercial wharfs and main channels. If you have a diver in the water, ensure you fly a dive flag, and have a lookout aboard to warn – and keep an eye out for – approaching vessels. If in doubt, haul out instead.

What are the penalties?

Ignorance of our rules is no defence. People illegally cleaning boat hulls risk fines of at least $750.

Get to know your marine pests

Find out about the different types of marine pests in our Pest Control Hub – what they look like and why they're a problem.

Go to the marine pests section of the Pest Control Hub

Boat maintenance facilities

Port Whangarei Marine Centre
340 Port Road, Port Whangarei
P: 09 4303148 | 027 3517066

South Pacific Gateway Marina
Lower Port Road, Whangarei
P: 09 438990 | 027 4658111

Oceania Marine
4 Fraser Street & 340 Port Road, Port Whangarei
P: 09 4303148

Norsand Boatyard
10 Fraser Street, Whangarei
P: 09 4308485 | 027 4913800

Riverside Drive Marina
52 Riverside Drive, Whangarei
P: 09 4382248

Dockland 5
211 Port Rd, Port Whangarei, Whangarei
P: 09 4388558

Marsden Cove Marina
48 Rauiri Drive, Whangarei
P: 09 4327740 | 021 540888

Russell Boating Club
Matauwhi Road, Russell
P: 09 4037222

Bay of Islands Marina
28A Baffin Street, Ōpua
P: 09 4027124

Doug's Boatyard
1 Richardson St, Ōpua
P: 09 4027055

Bay of Islands Yacht Club - Members Only
Te Point, Waitangi
E: David Smith – [email protected]

Kerikeri Cruising Club
346 Opito Bay Road, Kerikeri
P: 09 4076434

Hackett Landing Slipway
88D Hansen Road, Kerikeri
P: 09 4077265
Mangonui Cruising Club
5 Silver Egg Road, Mangonui
P: 09 4061499 | 0274485633 | 0800 468 000

Note: While use of these facilities is encouraged, you are still required to comply with their land-based rules and you're responsible for complying with the facility's rules and consents. 

Useful resources

Download "Safely using antifouling paints" from the Environmental Protection Authority website (PDF, 4MB)