Warnings were issued to a number of boaties caught flouting lockdown rules in Northland during Covid-19 compliance water patrols over Easter weekend.
Northland police district commander Tony Hill said a number of boaties were spoken to during water patrols in a number of locations and although no one has been prosecuted, people should adhere to the lockdown rules.
Nine formal warnings were given, the majority to boaties in the Bay of Islands who breached the lockdown restrictions.
Warnings were also given to three kayakers and one paddleboarder in the same location.
Police are making further inquiries about a vessel that sailed from the Whangārei Harbour to Opua.
"Police want to reiterate that despite Easter weekend being over, police will continue to conduct patrols out on the water and at boat ramps for the duration of the alert level 4 restrictions and while we don't want to take enforcement action, we will if necessary," Hill said.
A patrol conducted by Sergeant Andrew Ivey and two Northland Regional Council officers in the Whangaroa Harbour between 9am and 1pm on Monday resulted in one warning and four directions for boaties to return to their moorings.
"The main issue that has proved difficult to police is around the safety of vessels when anchored and the need to move around to find shelter. A large number of vessels that were stopped offered that explanation," Ivey said.
He said he took direction from NRC staff and they felt frustrated as at times as the movement wasn't considered essential, however personal safety was somewhat subjective, so an educational approach was taken.
"One incident involved a couple who got into trouble hiking, resulting in a minor sprained ankle. They were on a DoC track and had to be transported back to Whangaroa Marina.
"They were unaware that DoC tracks are currently closed and an educational approach was taken."
Ivey said locals claimed some boat owners from out of town who attempted to utilise boat ramps became aggressive with them after being confronted.
Northland Regional Council harbourmaster Jim Lyle was also part of the joint operation and said it was a "bit disconcerting" that boaties were caught cruising up and down the coast despite repeated messages for people to stay in their bubble.
"There were a fair few boats that shouldn't have been there. Some were in Whangārei, quite a few in the Bay of Islands and in Whangaroa Harbour. One person went diving for food, he was sent home, and a few were directed where they should have been.
"At Opua Marina, there were a lot of empty berths as people have been taking their boats out for day trips or wanting to spend the rest of the lockdown on the water. Unlike most of us, they are not working under the spirit of the lockdown," Lyle said.