Media release

Media release: ORC urges safety on the water as Labour Weekend approaches

Tuesday 18 October 2022

As the summer boating season kicks off, Otago Regional Council Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook is looking for safe boating behaviour all over Otago.

Labour Weekend is traditionally the start of the recreational boating season in Aotearoa New Zealand, with hundreds of people taking to Otago’s coastal waters, harbours, lakes and rivers for boating recreation throughout the summer.

“If you’re pulling your boat out of storage for the first time in a while, take the time to do a thorough check of the vessel and all gear. Prep your boat, safety equipment, check the conditions and know the rules,” says ORC’s Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook.

“For those new to boating, please stop, think, and find out about basic boating safety rules to protect you and your loved ones.”

Labour Weekend is part of Safer Boating Week, and also heralds the launch of the Harbourmaster’s Summer Safety Campaign.

Mr Rushbrook wants to embed the campaign’s key messages into the community’s minds so that everyone stays safe on the water this summer.

The theme of this year’s campaign is, ‘The water is calling’, urging people to ‘know the ways of the water before you let go of the land’ and ensure they have a safer boating plan sorted.

“Safer Boating Week is about raising awareness and change behaviours to see everyone going out on boats to be fully prepared if danger should strike,” the Harbourmaster says.

ORC’s Harbourmaster team now have a new vessel which allows them to patrol both the Otago coastal area and central Otago waterways this summer, but no matter where, the message remains the same.

“No matter if you’re on a power boat, jet ski or kayak, remembering the boating safety code is integral.”

The Boating Safety Code (on the Harbourmaster page alongside other helpful information for boaties) reinforces five key messages:

  1. Wear your lifejacket
  2. Take two waterproof ways to call for help
  3. Check the marine weather forecast
  4. Avoid alcohol – booze and boats don’t mix
  5. Be a responsible skipper


Otago Habourmasters at jetty

Deputy Harbourmaster Pete Dryden (left) and Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook with the harbourmaster’s vessel, Kaitiaki, which will be based Central Otago this year.


Otago Harbour new vessel

The public are being asked to help find a name for this new vessel, which will patrol the Dunedin harbour and Otago coast. Suggestions can be made by emailing