Maritime VHF Channel Changes

From 1 October 2016 New Zealand, along with a number of other countries, is required to change a number of maritime VHF repeater channels.

These changes are being made to make space for newly allocated services for international ship tracking and data services which will ensure New Zealand VHF radio services are compatible with the rest of the world. The changes will largely affect Coastguard VHF and NowCasting channels.

As of 14 October 2016, all affected maritime VHF channels have been changed successfully. Find your new local channel on these maps:

VHF radio map

Click here for the updated
Coastguard Radio VHF map

Nowcasting Channel map

Click here for the updated
NowCasting map

Find out about other weather information options here >> 

It's important to note that although some maritime channels will be changing, the existing marine Channel 16 used for safety and distress purposes will NOT change.

No one should need to buy a new VHF Radio to access the new VHF or NowCasting channels. All current VHF radios will be able to access the new channels, Once the switch has been made, the old channel will immediately become obsolete – there will be no simultaneous running of both channels.


  • You will not need a new VHF Radio to access the new channels
  • Channel 16 – the marine distress channel – is not changing
  • Current channels are effective up until 1 October, 2016
  • New channels will take effect from or around 1 October, 2016 (or once the work has been completed on each repeater site)
  • For more information, visit the channel change information at the Government Radio Spectrum Management website.


Frequently asked questions

Why are some channels changing?

New Zealand is required to change some maritime VHF repeater channel assignments to make space for international services for ship tracking and data services. New Zealand is moving all Coastguard VHF repeater services and all NowCasting weather services to accommodate these changes.

 When are the changes taking place?

The frequency changes are taking place in New Zealand on 1 October 2016.

Is Channel 16 changing?

No, Channel 16 (the distress channel) will not be changing.

Do I need a new radio?

No, your current maritime VHF set will be able to access all available channels after the changes take place. However, you may need to switch to a new channel number to be able to use services.

What are the four-digit new channel numbers for the Nowcasting channels?

These four-digit channel numbers are allocated internationally to new maritime simplex channels. New Zealand is using some of these new maritime simplex channels for the Coastguard and privately provided NowCasting weather services. You will still be able to listen to the weather channels on your current VHF set by removing the 20 from the channel number e.g. in the Waitemata Harbour where the new NowCasting channel number is 2019, you just need to use channel 19 on your set.

Where do I go to find out what are the new channels that I will be required to use?

Visit the Radio Spectrum Management website to find out more, or check out our VHF and Nowcasting maps which highlight the changes.

Can I get a new frequency sticker for my boat?

Yes, new frequency stickers will be available from Maritime New Zealand from August 2016.


Page updated: 17 October 2016