Moorings and Anchorages in Fiordland

Southland’s coastline is exposed to extremes of weather and sudden weather changes. With much of the coast being remote from ports, it is important that sheltered areas remain available for use as anchorages. These areas are required so that ships can operate safely, especially around Fiordland and Stewart Island.

An anchorage is an area of the coastal marine area which has been set aside or is used for the anchoring of a ship by means of that ship’s anchor. Moorings are defined as any weight, post or other structure placed in, or on, the bed of the coastal marine area for the prime purpose of securing a ship, raft, aircraft or floating structure, and do not include the anchors of a powered ship. In Fiordland, moorings often also involve lines from the bow or stern of the craft to the shore.

The most popular mooring areas in Fiordland are located at:

  • Harrison Cove in Milford Sound
  • Deep Water Basin at Milford Sound
  • Blanket Bay in Doubtful Sound
  • Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound
  • Luncheon Cove in Dusky Sound

Anyone who puts in a mooring does not have exclusive rights of use of a specific area but they do have proprietorial rights over the mooring block, chain, etc. People don't use someone else's mooring, if they can avoid it, but the practice is that the owners allow such use provided that the ship is compatible with the mooring and it is not required by its owner, at that time. Existing mooring areas are not known to be of high benthic value, except for Harrison Cove (which has high natural values) and are likely to be modified in most cases.

Within existing mooring areas, largely informal arrangements have worked in the past with few apparent problems, although owners of mooring facilities need to recognise that they have responsibilities to ensure that their use of the mooring does not result in damage to other ships. The safety of mooring blocks, chains and lines is the owner’s responsibility, but Environment Southland must be satisfied that the proposed mooring is sufficient for the ship and types of sea and weather conditions that could reasonably be expected in the area. It must also be satisfied that the use of the mooring will not have adverse effects on other people who use the area.

A right of occupation, for a certain amount of space, will usually be associated with a mooring consent, and this space is based on the length of the ship. If the mooring is transferred the new owner will need to ensure that the new ship is no longer than the old one otherwise the original consent will need to be varied or a new consent obtained.

For a list of anchorages and moorings, see the extract from the Regional Coastal Plan for Southland – July 2005.

Anchorages or mooring areas are shown in Appendix 3 of the Coastal Plan, Within Fiordland there are some areas in which anchoring and mooring is prohibited.

Rules relating to moorings and anchorages are found here