A night-time collision between a power and sailboat has prompted Bay of Plenty's harbourmaster to warn boaties to use lights at night.

Boats have to be well lit between sunset and sunrise and in heavy rain and fog.

Read more: Hit and run horror as yacht run over by speeding boat

Under Maritime New Zealand rules, boats at anchor have to show a white light that's visible from all directions. The colour and type of lights required vary depending on the size and type of the craft. The colour of the light indicates port and starboard, showing which way a person is travelling.

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Bay of Plenty harbourmaster Peter Buell said not displaying the correct lights at night was a "hell of a risk".

"If your boat isn't well lit then not only are you endangering the lives of those on board your vessel but you're putting others at risk too," said Buell.

"It's equally important that people travel at a safe speed for the conditions. If you're travelling at night then this isn't fast. If people are not familiar with the rules, they can visit www.boprc.govt.nz/safeboating."

Light rules

Powerboats:

• Over 12m need to display green side lights, a white stern light and a white masthead light.

• Less than 12m need to display red and green side lights and as a minimum one all-round white light.

• Less than 7m, and not capable of speeds over 7 knots, need only display an all-round white light.

Sail boats:

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• Over 12m need to display red and green side lights, a white stern light and a white masthead light.

• Must show red and green sidelights and a white stern light (may be combined into a single tri-colour light mounted at the top of a mast on yachts less than 20m).

All non-powered boats under 7m, such as a rowing dinghy, canoe, kayak or sail boat must show a white light or torch to indicate its presence.