Entry and exit is programmed around the strength of the tidal flow in the entrance and takes place day and night. Berthing normally takes place 30 minutes after negotiating the harbour entrance. Tankers will be berthed where practicable, starboard side alongside (bow out), to facilitate emergency departure. The entrance approaches are dredged giving a minimum depth of 14.1 m. During northerly and easterly gales, breaking seas may be experienced in this vicinity, particularly on an ebb tide. Inner harbour navigable channels have been dredged to 12.9 m. The western channel is now closed to shipping.

Approach Routes - Tankers
The Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand has published a voluntary code for ships carrying oil or other harmful liquid substances in bulk as defined in Annexes 1 and 11 of MARPOL 73/78.

Ships are to keep at least 5 nautical miles off land, any charted danger, or any outlying island(s) until reaching the position where alteration is required to make port. A greater distance off may be necessary in adverse on-shore weather, or if it is known that the ship has any mechanical deficiency that might impair either the motive power or manoeuvrability.

Approaching Tauranga
From the north -keep at least 4 nautical miles to the west of Mayor Island and thence to the Pilot Station.

From the east - keep at least 5 nautical miles to the north of Volkner Rocks, thence 3 nautical miles to the north of Astrolabe Reef and thence to the Pilot Station.

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