Our safety campaigns

On average, each year 19 or 20 people die in recreational boating accidents in New Zealand. Research shows that not wearing a lifejacket is the leading risk factor, and other key risks include: not carrying communications, not checking the weather, and drinking alcohol.

Our safety campaigns aim to reduce the number of fatalities on our waters.

The Boating Safety Code

The Boating Safety Code contains our key safety messages (see below). Research shows that these are the five most important things you can do to reduce your odds of having a fatal accident on the water. They’ve been agreed on by water safety organisations nationwide – and they’re reflected in all of our safety campaigns.

Safer boating code

2019 Water Safety Month

On 18 October the Safer Boating Forum launched New Zealand’s first Water Safety Month.

The Forum’s 24 organisations - government, volunteer and sports bodies - are increasing collaboration to get water safety messages to people.

Water Safety Month is designed to get people thinking about preparing before they go in, on or around the water and the organisations are collaborating to amplify water safety messages.

Safer Boating Week

Safer Boating Week, leading up to Labour Weekend, was the first event of Water Safety Month.

“Prep, check, know” – simple safety reminders for boaties to keep in mind as they prepared for the season ahead.

Prep your boat: Service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery, and generally give the boat a good once-over.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

Check your gear: check your lifejackets regularly and make sure they fit well, check gas canisters on inflatable jackets and expiry dates on distress beacons and flares, check batteries, and make sure you have two reliable ways to call for help (including a VHF radio) that will work when wet.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

Know the rules: as well as making sure skippers know the rules of the road on the water, check the bylaws for the region you are in. Bylaw information is available on regional council websites, or smartphone users can access it via the MarineMate app.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

Read more about lifejackets

“No Excuses” campaign

Summer also includes a “No excuses” enforcement campaign for boaties not carrying a lifejacket and those who speed on the water. Boaties who break councils’ lifejacket and speed rules will be given infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s existing bylaws.

“No excuses” will run for five days by each participating council between 12 October 2019 and 31 March 2020. Maritime NZ has funded the councils to provide additional staff, time and resources to the campaign, on top of the safer boating work they already do. During the campaign, harbourmaster’s staff and Maritime NZ’s maritime officers will be working together on the water.

The Safer Boating guide covers essential information for recreational boaties on the sea, river and lakes of New Zealand.

Safer Boating Guide

This booklet gives you essential information for an enjoyable and safe time on the water.

[PDF: 3.87MB, 13 pages]


The Safer Boating guide covers essential information for recreational boaties on the sea, river and lakes of New Zealand.

Paddle Craft Guide

Take safety into your own hands with our Paddle Craft Guide

Featuring Olympic kayaker, Kayla Imrie

[PDF: 1.01MB, 9 pages]