Safe Swimming

Following a few simple steps can go a long way to keeping you safe while swimming at the beach in NZ:

Always swim between the flags! Red and yellow flags will indicate the safest area to swim in at any beach patrolled by surf lifesavers (find a patrolled beach at Safeswim). Enter the water between the flags and be aware of currents moving you out of the area.

Swim on an incoming tide! Especially at beaches that are not patrolled, swimming when the tide is coming in rather than going out is much safer. Check tides with the Metservice tool.

Wear swimming gear! We know it sounds obvious, but people have been known to try swimming in jeans.

Know the conditions! Weather conditions can change very quickly on the motu (islands), so check the forecast even if it looks fine right now.

Learn to identify rips! Rips are ocean currents that move away from the land and toward the open ocean. They are the major cause of ocean emergencies and rescues but can be identified in advance. Check out How to Spot a Rip Current.

Watch out for kids! Adults, keep any children under five you are supervising within arm’s reach, and actively supervise older children.

Stay calm, raise your arm! If you are in trouble at a beach, raise one arm above the water to alert surf patrol or other swimmers that you are in need of assistance.

Learn more – find out about water safety in NZ here

For river swimming, different risks and ways to mitigate them apply. We recommend checking out the Water Safe NZ resources here.