Live cameras installed at Taieri Mouth near Dunedin to help keep boaties safe

No matter where you are, driving a boat across a river mouth bar as you move into the ocean is dangerous. 

To help improve the safety at Taieri Mouth near Dunedin, a live camera has been installed so boaties can check the conditions before they even make the trip out to the beach.  

Taieri Mouth looked smooth and calm on Friday but chances are it won't look that way on Saturday, or Sunday. 

"You have to negotiate quite a careful path to snake your way around - there's some rocks there as well," Jules Radich, Taieri Mouth camera project coordinator, told Newshub.

The conditions are constantly changing.

Now the live dual-camera feed - free for the public to use - will hopefully help make things safer. 

The cameras take a photo every minute, storing the previous 120 hours' worth so people can analyse the changing environment before hitting the water.

"To give people a really useful tool to give them some actual real-time info of what the bar is doing now and where the channel looks like it was at the previous low tide," Radich said. 

This summer there have already been two incidents at the Tairua Bar near Pauanui. In the most recent, one person lost their life. 

In October, only one person survived a Manukau Harbour boating tragedy in which three died as their boat flipped while trying to cross the notorious bar.

On the South Island's rugged West Coast, crossing the Grey River bar is no different.

After fishing in this area for the past four decades Radich knows all too well how crucial the information from the new cameras can be. 

"You cannot change your mind once you're halfway," he said. 

"When a boat gets close to the surf it is advisable to wait in this safe zone just inside the surf."

The current conditions have prompted authorities to issue a warning. The sand bar has moved to the north beach, which creates the most dangerous conditions for crossing the bar, and since the bar moved, the camera has already captured a few incidents.

"For search and rescue it's great because when an incident happens we don't necessarily go there, we can just turn on the phone, iPad, laptop or whatever and watch the cameras to see what's going on," Martin Balch, Dunedin Marine Search and Rescue chair, said. 

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Daniel Gerrard said using technology is the logical next step in water safety. 

"I think we have to be smarter about a lot of things we do and using technology is the logical next step for a lot of activity," Gerrard said. 

But you can't only rely on the live feed.

"You've got to learn where the channel is and you have to approach it with caution and study it," local fisherman Philip Doddington told Newshub. 

The cameras are another tool in a fisherman's toolbox to help keep them safe.  

Watch the full story above.