Water activities

New Zealanders enjoy swimming and water activities in the sea, rivers and lakes. These waterways can impact health if they become contaminated.

Always supervise tamariki near water

Before you get in the water

Activities in the water is healthy and fun, and swimming pools are safe and healthy environments. But there are bugs and infections that can be brought into the water and spread.

Help yourself and others to stay healthy in and out of the water by following a few simple steps.

Water safety in swimming pools

  • If you, or your tamariki, has had runny poos (diarrhoea) in the last 2 weeks — do not go into the water.
  • Take tamariki to the toilet before they swim and wash hands after going to the toilet.
  • Shower yourself and your tamariki before you put togs on. Use soap and warm water (especially in the area around your bottom).
  • Tamarki should wear approved swimming nappies. Cloth and disposable nappies are not allowed at swimming pools. Pool staff can tell you if your nappies are approved.
  • Remember to wash your hands after changing your tamariki.
  • If you think someone has had an accident (you see poo in the pool) tell a lifeguard. They will tell you when you can get back in the water.

Water safety on lakes, rivers and sea

The Water Safety Code includes four key safety messages:

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Watch out for yourself and others.
  3. Be aware of dangers.
  4. know your limits.

Water Safety Code — Water Safety New Zealand (external link)

The Boating Safety Code has five key boating safety messages:

  1. Lifejackets — take and wear lifejackets at all times when you are out on the water.
  2. Skipper responsibility — the skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat.
  3. Communications — take 2 separate waterproof forms of communication.
  4. Marine weather — check the weather before going out and be prepared for changes.
  5. Avoid alcohol — alcohol affects your judgement and awareness, which are critical for safe boating

Boating Safety Code — Coastguard New Zealand (external link)

Health benefits of water activities

Water activities can help a person achieve the physical activity recommendations for New Zealanders.

Activities done in the water can bring health benefits, such as:

  • taking the load off your body
  • soothing and therapeutic
  • low impact exercise — your joints and muscles are under less stress when in water
  • using nearly all your body’s muscle groups (when using full swimming techniques)
  • excellent during pregnancy — as the water supports the weight of the baby
  • great for older people and people with health conditions, such as osteoarthritis and obesity.

Maritime New Zealand

Information on the rules and equipment that help keep you safe on the water, and what your responsibilities are as a recreational boater.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand

Find out about lifeguarding, learn how to stay safe at the beach and how to get involved with surf sport in New Zealand.

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