Superyacht captains who previously would have needed to get a pilot on board to cruise the waters of Fiordland and Stewart Island, New Zealand, can now cruise pilot-free under new developments with Southland’s Regional maritime division.



Part of the provision is that the superyacht’s captain will have to take an online training course to gain a Pilot Exemption Certificate (PEC) via Asia Pacific Superyachts New Zealand.

The pre-requisites for those looking to take the examination outline the applicant must:
  • Meet the general requirements for issue of a PEC (detailed below) and hold as a minimum a current NZ Offshore Master qualification or equivalent, or a higher qualification recognised by the director of the programme
  • Have experience in the capacity of master on that particular vessel or a sistership for a period exceeding three months
  • Satisfactorily demonstrate the use of the English language
  • Have completed a Bridge Resource Management course or equivalent
  • Provide sufficient details of the vessel to demonstrate that it meets the ‘superyacht’ criteria, including tonnage certificate and flag

The ‘general requirements’ for issue of the PEC refer to proof of having completed training in the following areas, to the satisfaction of Maritime New Zealand:
  • Use of radar and other electronic devices – their limitations and capabilities as navigation collision avoidance aids
  • International Regulations for Preventing Colissions at SEA, 1972 as amended, and other national and local navigational safety and pollution prevention rules as may apply
  • Shiphandling for piloting, anchoring, berthing and unberthing, and the manouvering behaviour of the superyacht expected to be piloted and the limitations imposed by particular propulsion and steering systems
  • Factors affecting ship performance, such as wind, current, tide, channel configuration, water depth, bottom, bank and ship interaction including squat
  • Manouvering during emergency situations
  • Bridge equipment and navigational aids
  • IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases
  • IMO Code for the investigation of marine causalities and incidents
  • Pollution prevention


From the submission of the necessary certificates to the final oral done on site in the Fiordland area on board the vessel, the process would take approximately three months.



Duthie Lidgard, managing director at Asia Pacific Superyachts New Zealand, informed The Crew Report that from start to finish, so from the submission of the necessary certificates to the final oral done on site in the Fiordland area on board the vessel, the process would take approximately three months, with a PEC being issued immediately and valid for six months.

Asia Pacific Superyachts New Zealand will act as the direct link between the captain, Maritime New Zealand and the local harbour masters. “This is to ensure correct information is provided in one email to authorities for faster processing times,” Lidgard tells The Crew Report. “The initial submissions ensure the vessel and captain is up to date with the port state standards and master qualifications.”

Lidgard adds that the need for a pilot has been “one of the main stumbling blocks” for clients considering exploring the unspoiled destination. “The South Island, and particularly the Fiordland region, is an amazing place to cruise and we wanted to help open the area up and make it a viable destination that every visiting superyacht could realistically consider.”