All commercial rafting operations in New Zealand are required to comply with the safety standards set out in Maritime Rule Part 80 administered by Maritime NZ. Maritime Rules Part 81 (Click here for a link to view Rule Part 81.) – Marine Craft used for Adventure Tourism establishes a Code of Practice for the Safety of Commercial Rafting. This Code of Practice covers:
• operational procedures
• guide qualifications
• safe operational plans (SOP)
• audit and certification of operators.
Maritime NZ relies on industry feedback to ensure legislation works for everyone - including guides, operators and passengers.
Through this occasionally Advisory Circulars are created and are to be read in conjunction with Rule 81.
At the core of the Code of Practice for the Safety of Commercial Rafting is the requirement that all commercial rafting operators develop a SOP which details how the operator will manage the safety of all people involved in their rafting operation.
Safe operating plans (SOP) include details on:
• operator details
• operating conditions
• passenger information
• passenger screening
• trip requirements
• back-up personnel
• staff selection, training and supervision
• river conditions and on river management
• new operational situations and changes to existing operational situations
• emergency planning and procedures
• accident, incident and mishap recording, reporting and investigation
• implementation and review
The detail in each SOP may be different, allowing for local conditions and individual circumstances affecting each rafting operation. All operators are required to submit their SOP to Maritime NZ for audit and approval. Each SOP undergoes an initial audit by the Maritime NZ Rafting Safety Auditor. Note: Initial audits of SOPs in the Queenstown Lakes District area are undertaken by the Authorised Person appointed by the Director of Maritime NZ.
Once an SOP is approved the operator is issued with a Certificate of Compliance. Every operation must undergo an annual SOP audit to ensure their Certificate of Compliance remains valid. This ensures that each SOP is being properly maintained and that each rafting operation continues to comply with their SOP and the Code of Practice for the Safety of Commercial Rafting.
To assist in the development of SOPs Maritime NZ provides an education and liaison role with the rafting industry.
For further information, or details on developing a SOP contact Maritime NZ on 0508 22 55 22 or visit
Safety Kayak Guidelines
Purpose: To help stop people drowning.. and to provide guidance for operators around employment of Safety kayakers, to provide guidance for safety kayakers on skills and equipment expectations. A guide from Industry to Industry. It will be held as an Industry Standard, therefore decisions could be measured against it.
Click here to read more
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