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Source: Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a wonderful summertime activity and Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is keen to ensure Kiwis can enjoy it safely this summer.

As part of the charity’s Ready. Set. Summer campaign, SLSNZ is teaming up with water safety experts across a range of popular beach activities to share vital safety messages.

“Our number one priority is ensuring that Kiwis make it home safe after a day at the beach,” says SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton.

“Volunteer Surf Lifeguards conduct hundreds of rescues every year – and many of these involve people who are participating in activities such as surfing, SUPing, or sea kayaking,” he says.

“We understand the importance of safety messaging because our volunteers are at the coalface and we see what happens when things go wrong,” he says.

“In order to prevent these scary – and sometimes tragic – incidents from happening this summer, we’re teaming up with organisations like NZSUP to share safety information that’s relevant to Kiwis who enjoy water-based activities.”

NZSUP Safety Officer, Bill Dawes says that while it can seem safe and easy, stand-up paddle boarding is like any water sport in terms of risk.

“There is the potential for things to go wrong, especially here in New Zealand where the weather can often change rapidly,” he says.

Dawes says all paddlers, from beginners to experienced, should follow the SUP SAFE code when they head out. Paddlers should wear a leash every time they paddle, but it needs to be the right sort for the conditions.

“Without a leash, it’s really easy to become separated from your board, especially in a breeze. This is the main cause of paddleboarding rescues and drownings worldwide. However, it’s equally important to wear the right leash for the conditions.  Find out more about this at”

Dawes also says paddlers should always wear a life jacket.

“It’s a safety device in case the rider gets separated from their board and it’s a legal requirement. It does not need to be restrictive or uncomfortable, there are excellent inflatable PFDs (personal flotation devices) designed for the experienced paddler that you don’t even know you’re wearing.”

Before heading to the beach, Dawes recommends that paddlers check:

The weather forecast
Wind strength and direction (now and forecast)
Tide height and flow if they are on the coast, and swell conditions