New resources smooth PWC compliance process

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 41, September 2012

Use of personal water craft or PWCs (often called jet skis) is one of the fastest-growing activities in recreational boating.

Increasing numbers of commercial operators hire out PWC for river, harbour and offshore touring, either to individuals riding independently or to people in escorted groups.

In their early days, PWCs could carry only one person at a time. Underpowered and unstable, they were confined to sheltered, enclosed waters. But over time, PWCs have evolved into powerful and sophisticated four-stroke engine vehicles, with greatly improved stability and the capacity to carry up to four people and travel long distances, including when more than 200 metres from shore.

With their heightened popularity and greater capacity has come the need for more regulatory oversight, to ensure all PWCs used in commercial operations are safe for their intended use. MNZ has worked closely with operators to develop and refine a set of resources to help them navigate the formal processes for meeting the requirements. These resources provide guidance on how to comply with Rule 40G, which is the applicable rule for PWCs.

Some of the regulatory requirements for PWCs have been around for a while. Since 1998, craft that are longer than 3.5 metres and operated further than 200 metres from shore have been required to be in Safe Ship Management. Commercial operators who rent out PWCs need to ensure they assess the people who hire them and provide adequate training in their use.

Jet ski
Increasing numbers of commercial operators hire out PWC to individuals or escorted groups.
Maritime New Zealand ©2020

The amendment to Rule 40G covers novel craft (vessels not covered by parts 40A–40F). It requires commercial owner/operators to provide a safety case for the PWCs they operate. The safety case includes a safety management system for PWCs. They must also gain a certificate of fitness (based on an initial survey) for each PWC and an approval issued by the Director for the safety case.

Note that PWCs less than 3.5 metres long and operated within sight of their base or within 200 metres of shore may be registered with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as an amusement device, instead of gaining MNZ certification.

The MNZ resources for PWC operators consist of safety guidelines, templates and checklists. The information in the resources was developed and refined using feedback from about 15 different operators.

The resources step operators through the processes of preparing a safety case for the PWC, having the vessel surveyed to obtain a certificate of fitness, and submitting the safety case to MNZ for approval.

MNZ has checklists and templates available and can provide contact details for the surveyors approved for 40G survey. Email

Know the ‘rules of the road’ on the water

The appeal of riding PWC or jet skis lies in the exhilaration and fun they provide, but they need to be operated in a way that keeps everyone safe.

MNZ and Coastguard urge anyone using PWCs to make sure they know the ‘rules of the road’ before they head out on the water: „„

  • check the marine weather before you go out
  • „„let someone responsible know where you’re going and when you plan to be back
  • „„wear a lifejacket„„
  • carry two forms of emergency communication that will work when wet
  • „„avoid alcohol.

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Test your PWC skills online

Coastguard Boating Education has an exciting online interactive game that challenges the skills and knowledge of PWC riders. The player makes decisions before taking a virtual trip, and receives feedback about their choices. They then take the PWC out of the virtual marina, making decisions and observations as they go, avoiding obstacles and eventually, if their decisions are the right ones, returning safely. There are time limits for each choice, which affects the total score.

Test your PWC knowledge and skills