The Manukau Harbour has received a long-range AIS station in a bid to increase boating safety – but it will require boaties to install an AIS system on their vessels. 

There are times in any boatie’s experience when it’s helpful for others to know where you are, or for you to know what other boat traffic is nearby. By installing an Automatic Identification System (AIS) on
 your vessel, you will increase your boating safety. 

A vital element in the system is an infrastructure of reliable receiving stations, and until very recently there have been none around the Manukau Harbour, with the exception of around Cornwallis and a small reach at the Port of Onehunga. That has recently changed. 

Thanks to a community-minded family on Torkar Road, there is now a permanent AIS receiving station at Clarks Beach. Its transmitter has an average range of 32.2 nautical miles, ranging up to 79.3 nautical miles, and a coverage area of up to 1107 km2

In the last month the station received signals from 1602 vessel movements. 

What’s AIS? 


It’s a digital, radio-based transponder system that uses GPS, VHF radio and sophisticated digital processing to automatically communicate between vessels without any operator interaction. The main benefit of fitting it to your boat – even recreational ones – is safety. This applies in a number of ways. 

1. Any vessels equipped with transponders can see each other, the size, the speed, the destination, and all manner of other information. At night, in bad weather or fog, this is very helpful.

2. There are now get smaller devices which can be attached to life vests or life rafts. If you’ve ever tried to pick up a Man Overboard in rough seas, you’ll know how hard it is to see a person in the water.

3. If you’re travelling in tandem with other boats, you can keep in touch with each other, even when not in eye range. There is also a range of AIS Apps for your smart phone or computer to track vessels, both locally and internationally. Marine Traffic is one of the widely-used ones.

While you’re not required to have AIS gear on your recreational boat, its advantages are numerous.