More people have been hospitalised for drowning incidents in the Bay of Plenty than anywhere else in New Zealand.

A Water Safety New Zealand report into drownings found the Bay of Plenty recorded the highest level of hospitalisations for non-fatal drownings in New Zealand.

The Bay had a 10.8 rate of hospitalisations per 100,000 people in 2014, the latest figures available, which soared above the 5.2 rate recorded for the years 2009 to 2013.

The data has sparked a move by Waimarino Adventure Park to team up with nappy company Huggies to offer free nappies for children for their first swim or water confidence lessons with mum or dad.


Waimarino is among the five water parks in New Zealand offering the incentive, which is expected to start in December.

The programme offers babies under 18 months their first swim or water confidence lesson for free while in the arms of mum or dad, while wearing a free pair of Huggies Little Swimmers swimpants.

Marketing and sales coordinator Sam Cameron said people came to the park for a short amount of time ''but while they are here we can try to give them the confidence about water knowledge''.

''We are just really passionate about water safety and encouraging people to be more confident in the water,'' she said.

The report also showed six people died in preventable drownings in the Bay in 2014, compared with 11 in the Auckland region and 10 each in Northland and the Waikato.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said more people moving to places such as the Bay for a coastal lifestyle was one factor behind the increase in hospitalisations.

Mr Mills also listed an increase in flexible leisure time and ageing population, more affordable and easily accessible aquatic recreation equipment and events, and an increase in immigrants unfamiliar with New Zealand conditions as other reasons.

He supported the Huggies and Waimarino efforts to teach young children water skills, saying Water Safety NZ invested heavily in teaching water safety skills to 5 to 13-year-olds.

''Like most things, the earlier your start learning, the better, and this applies to water safety as well. Even if it's to give the toddlers confidence and familiarity in the water in the first instance,'' he said.

''Parent involvement is also essential in your child's development in the water. Supervision is also the key message for young children. They should always be within your line of sight and preferably within arm's length. It takes less than a minute for a child to drown.''

Plunket safety adviser Sue Campbell said young children were attracted to water.

''They move quickly and quietly. They are curious and want to explore this interesting environment.''

The water parks helping to keep children water safe in New Zealand

Auckland - Westwave 20 Alderman Drive, Henderson
Tauranga - Waimarino Adventure Park, 36 Taniwha Place, Bethlehem
Gisborne - Gisborne Olympic Pools, 45 Centennial Marine Drive
Hastings - Splash Planet, 1001 Grove Rd, Mayfair
New Plymouth - Todd Energy Aquatic Centre, 1-8 Tisch Ave