At this time of year bar entrances in the Eastern Bay of Plenty traditionally become shallow and Bay of Plenty Regional Council's Eastern Bay Harbour Master Brian Spake urges boaties to take more caution when crossing them.
"In most cases the bars become shallow as a consequence of reduced river flows. The Ōhiwa harbour entrance is currently the exception and it has good depths at the crossing point."
"Thornton and Ōpōtiki currently have restrictions in place. You shouldn't cross the bar three hours either side of low-water for Thornton and two hours either side of low-water for Ōpōtiki."
"In the interest of safety, boaties must adhere to these restrictions, and if there are swells present then remember that your under keel clearance is further reduced and you should allow an even greater margin for safety."
The Ōhiwa and Ōpōtiki entrances are currently lying respectively in a North North West and North West direction. This is where the deeper water can be found for crossing.
"Thornton is a little more unpredictable", says Brian. "It is subject to small shifts in direction. However as Whakatāne is a controlled entrance it is a more reliable with current depths at 1.6 m at the lowest astronomical tide.
The Harbour Master advises all visitors and those unsure about bar configurations to use Whakatāne entrance or seek advice from a regular user prior to any crossing.
"Also remember a suitable lifejacket must be worn at all times when crossing River/Harbour Bars."