Pilot & Towage


The Port of Tauranga has three purpose-built tugs and two pilot launches, providing a 24-hour, seven day service to ships entering and leaving the Port.

The Port of Tauranga’s latest pilot vessel, Arataki, features the most modern technology available. It has a service speed of 25 knots, is 16.3 metres in length and is powered by twin 750 horsepower Scania V8 marine diesel engines. The acquisition of Arataki (in December 2010) is part of Port of Tauranga’s on going investment programme to ensure the Port remains the most efficient and productive in Australasia.

The Port’s back-up pilot vessel Te Awanui is also used for hydro graphic survey work.

Vessel Data (click on vessel images to view vessel specifics)

Sir Robert
Sir Robert
Tai Pari & Tai Timu
Tai Pari & Tai Timu
Pilot Launch
Te Awanui
Survey / Pilot Launch
Te Awanui



Sir Robert 01 Sir Robert A modern state-of-the-art tug, Sir Robert features the latest communication, navigation and mechanical technology. The 22m vessel is a compact but powerful tug, boasting 4,400hp and 50 tonne bollard pull, with leading-edge technology allowing it to be operated safely with a crew of two. This tug, along with Tai Pari and Tai Timu, is yet another example of the Port of Tauranga’s commitment to innovation and high quality services for shipping customers.

In mid 2015, the Port took delivery of two new tugs – Tai Pari and her sister vessel Tai Timu which were built to the Port’s specifications by Cheoy Lee of Hong Kong.

The tugs have the same configuration as the Port’s existing tug Sir Robert, with an Azimuth stern drive and power delivered through shrouded propeller housings on vertical shafts that can be rotated through 360 degrees, meaning they can move at full power in any direction. They are highly manoeuvrable and powerful tugs for their 24m size and will have a 74-tonne bollard pull, compared with the Sir Robert‘s 50 tonne bollard pull. The more powerful tugs are part of a $350 million capital expenditure programme to ensure New Zealand’s exporters and importers can access the blue water savings of larger ships.

Tai Pari & Tai Timu Tugs
Tidal Window Small Arrival and Departure Window for Port of Tauranga

The Port of Tauranga provides a pilotage service for all vessels over 250 GRT unless the master holds a current pilot exemption certificate. Entry and exit to the Port is provided through an arrival and departure window.

The Port of Tauranga is a tidal port catering for a maximum draught of 13.2m at low water and 14.5m at high water. However, the volume of water flowing through the entrance to the Port means that we have an “arrival and departure window” for vessels according to their handling capabilities.

The table to the left is an example of the window available for Class B vessels entering the Port.


Arrival and Departure Window (The following is an example only)

Vessel Grade Knots
(Current Flow)
Windows On
a 24-Hour Period
Time Per
Window On Average
Examples of Vessels
A < 1.5 4 2 Hours Large passenger vessels > 200m
Deep draught bulk vessels
B < 2.0 4 4 Hours Container vessels = 201-225m (in)
C < 2.5 4 4 Hours Container vessels < 200m (in & out)
D < 3.0 No restriction Reefer vessels < 155m
Container vessels < 151m
E > 3.0 No restriction All vessels < 125m

The times in the table above vary for neap and spring tides, eg for a neap tide, C grade vessels have no restrictions.
The Port successfully caters for vessels in all grades on a regular basis.

Please click here for the Port Passage Plan.