marine services

marine services

Pilotage & Procedures

To ensure the safety of vessels and personnel, South Port has a number of guidelines for entry and exit of the port, which vary according to the vessel length, weight and draught.


Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels over 500 gross registered tonnes.

Pilotage Areas and Limits (as at 16 October 2020)


Pilots will board inward vessels 1.5-2 nautical miles south of Bluff Entrance Light, 30 minutes before High Water (HW) Slack and 45 minutes before Low Water (LW) Slack. Outward vessels depart up to one hour before High Water Slack and on or immediately after Low Water Slack.

Vessels will be handled on the first available tide, weather permitting, day or night. Vessels over 200m in length overall will be restricted by wind and tidal conditions. Please contact the Marine Administrator for further information.
Application for the services of a pilot, linesman or tugs must be made at least three hours before the time required during normal working hours, i.e. 0800 to 1700 Monday to Friday. Vessels requiring services after 1700 hours and before 0800 hours should make an application before 1530 hours on the last working day prior to the weekend or holiday.
Vessels shall inform “Bluff Harbour Radio” at least 4 hours before arrival confirming ETA. Non-confirmation could result in a cancellation fee if the vessel arrives late.

Application & Notification

Vessels arriving should, or their agent should, advise the Port Company 48 hours prior to arrival of ETA, arrival draught and any dangerous cargo on board, whether for discharge at this port or not. Vessels arriving at a weekend or public holiday should ensure that the arrival information reaches the Port Company before 1530 hours on the last working day prior to the weekend or holiday.
Pilots are available for Stewart Island pilotage district.
There is also a cruise ship piloting service for Fiordland provided by South Port. Please contact the Marine Administrator for further details.
Vessels up to 100m: Arrival and departure can be made at any stage of the tide, dependent upon draught, weather and ship-handling capabilities.
Vessels 100m to 180m and a draught of up to 8.5m: Pilot time up to one hour before and after slack water in Bluff main channel.

Other Pilotage Services

Guidelines for Shipping Movements

Vessels 180m to 200m: Pilot times for entry and exit are as follows:
Maximum draught for low and high tides is as follows:
Vessels over 200m: Large vessels will be evaluated by the Duty Pilot at the time. Pilot times and draught restrictions are the same as for 180m-200m vessels.
Shifting within the port: The majority of vessels can be moved at any stage of the tide, dependent upon weather conditions. Maximum draught at LW is 8.0m; during the LW-HW and HW-LW periods the maximum draught is adjusted accordingly to the height of the tide.

Tankers: Tankers will be restricted to slack water shifts only to/from Tiwai Wharf and berth number 12.

Weather conditions: South Port pilots have stipulated guidelines for maximum wind strengths for various types of vessels, both day and night.
The passage plans and waypoints in and out for all berths can be downloaded as zip files below.

Environment Southland Harbour Master’s Directions:

Passage Plans

Berth No 3A IN
Berth No 3A OUT
Berth No 4 IN
Berth No 4 OUT
Berth No 5 IN
Berth No 5 OUT
Berth No 8 IN
Berth No 8 OUT
Berth No 11 IN
Berth No 11 OUT
Berth Tiwai IN
Berth Tiwai OUT
Shift from Berth No 11 to Tiwai
Shift from Tiwai to Berth No 8
Shift from Tiwai to Berth No 11