Safety at the Beach and on the Water

Safety at the Beach and on the Water

Kiwis love spending time in and on the water at our spectacular beaches, lakes and rivers. We enjoy world-class surf breaks and prime fishing spots, along with a temperate climate that allows us a long summer of enjoyment. Along with the good times comes high incidences of drownings and boating accidents in New Zealand. In fact, Surf Lifesaving NZ reports there are record numbers of rescues already taking place this year. Why not take a moment to remind yourself about water safety this summer? Read on for our top tips on keeping safe at the beach and on the water.


• Stick to patrolled beaches and always swim between the flags

• If you’re away from home, check with the locals and ask them about the conditions and the safest place to swim.

• If in doubt, stay out!

• Swim with friends – never swim or surf alone.

• Keep a close eye on children in or near the water. If you’re at a surf beach, stay in the water next to them at all times.

• Check out to see the conditions at your local beach. 


Clockwise from above, top left: Always stay close to children around the water; swim at a patrolled beach; if it's rough, there are still plenty of things to do at the beach; conditions can change without warning, don't turn your back on the waves.

Learn about  Rips

The ocean can be unpredictable so it's important to understand the hazards present at the beach. 

• Watch out for rips! Rips are strong currents of water that can carry you away from the shore. Calm, deep patches of water close to the shore with waves breaking on either side often indicates a rip. Discoloured, rippled or foamy water with debris can also mean a rip is present.

• If you see someone in trouble at an unpatrolled beach, ensure your own safety first, then ring 111 and ask for the police.

"When we’re on patrol, make sure you talk to our volunteer Surf Lifeguards and ask for advice as beach conditions can change."

Surf Lifesaving NZ

The three R's Rip Survival Plan

RELAX and float to conserve your energy.

RAISE your hand to signal for help.

RIDE the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore or help arrives.


Be smart around rocks

• Whether you’re fishing or exploring, rocky outcrops can be dangerous in the surf.

• Always wear a lifejacket when fishing. 

• Never stand on a rocks that are already wet (a sign that waves will be washing over them).

• Always face the sea – never turn your back on the ocean.

Check out the NZ Surf Lifesaving website for more tips and valuable information.


Above, from left: Don't forget your hat; it's still lots of fun in the shade; an adult needs roughly 35ml of sunscreen for full coverage.


New Zealand sunlight can have high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation can cause skin and eye damage. The best protection is to stay out of the sun, especially between the hours of 10am - 3pm. Always wear a hat and seek shady spots such as under the beautiful native Pohutukawa that line many beaches in Aotearoa.


• Always use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

• Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.

• Reapply sunscreen every two hours - or more often if you have been swimming or sweating.

• You need to apply more than you think. The average-sized adult needs about seven teaspoons (35 mL) of sunscreen for one full-body application.

Sun protection for babies

Babies' skin is very fragile and sunscreen should not be used as the main form of skin protection. Instead, use shade, clothing and broad-brimmed hats. It's advisable to keep babies out of direct sunlight, this is especially important between 10am and 4pm from September to April.

Sunscreen should be labelled 'for sensitive skin' or 'suitable for children'. 

This information has been taken from the Sunsmart website, find more information here.


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