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Wave buoy off the coast of Westport to form a vital part of maritime and flood management networks

08 Mar 2024

A Sofar Spotter Ocean wave buoy has been purchased by the West Coast Regional Council and will be installed off the coast of Westport this month.

The buoy will measure wave height, and the time it takes for two successive wave crests to pass a fixed point (wave period). Wave period is important for forecasting the size and power of waves.

Once installed, the buoy will play an important role in maritime data and flood management, with a live data feed to the West Coast Regional Council and Westport Harbour websites.

West Coast Regional Council Chair Peter Haddock says: “The wave spotter buoy will be another important tool in the toolbox for solving the advanced Westport early flood warning management puzzle.”

The bright yellow buoy is 800 mm in diameter, with an array of solar panels on top. It will be moored 1.5 nautical miles NNW off the coast of Westport, tethered to a secondary bright orange buoy fitted with a flashing light.

The buoy is not expected to cause navigation issues for vessels approaching Westport, but commercial fisherman should make themselves aware of its position as it will be located within trawl zones. It is expected tuna boats will turn well inside the buoy’s position.

For safety purposes, those in recreational craft should also make themselves aware of the buoy’s location. It will be able to be used as a landfall mark for vessels approaching Westport Harbour.

The buoy’s exact position will be 1.5 nautical miles NNW off the tip heads, on the main lead line at 41 42.137’S and 171 34.766’E.
The real-time data collected will be valuable for both commercial shipping and recreational boaties and have flow-on benefits for Civil Defence and flood protection, providing scientists with information relevant to tsunami and flood warning systems.

Falling under the ‘accommodate’ function of the Protect, Avoid, Retreat, Accommodate (PARA) framework for the Resilient Westport business case, the buoy will contribute data for the advanced Westport flood warning programme, a collaborative project with the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).


For further information please contact:
Domonic Venz 

Council Chair
Peter Haddock