Parents warned to stay close to youngsters and boaties urged to wear lifejackets at all times.
As thousands of holidaymakers get set to hit the beach and boaties prepare to launch, warnings are being issued about staying safe.
The reminder comes as Water Safety New Zealand reveals 84 people have drowned so far this year, including seven pre-schoolers. Maritime NZ figures show that of the 24 recreational boaties who have died, seven of the fatalities are believed to be from non-drowning incidents.
Water Safety chief executive Matt Claridge said the number of preschoolers drowning was unacceptable. Already two more had died this year than in all of 2013.
"Our key message to parents is to keep within arm's reach of small children so you can react and look after them."
"Pre-school children are the most vulnerable when it comes to drowning."
Parents holidaying somewhere new should identify potential risks such as ponds, pool and beach access on their arrival.
Overall, 107 people drowned in 2013. The official holiday period begins tomorrow at 4pm and ends on Monday, January 5, at 6am.
Mr Claridge said during the peak holiday period, one person could drown a day, rivalling the road toll figures during the same period. Water Safety aimed to have zero drownings during that time.
Maritime New Zealand is reminding boaties to wear lifejackets at all times. So far this year, five more recreational boaties have died compared with 2013. Although research found 88 per cent of people supported wearing lifejackets all the time, only 70 per cent claimed to do so. Lifejackets must be worn unless the skipper deems it safe to remove them and in Waikato they are compulsory on vessels under 6m.
Maritime New Zealand education and communication manager Pania Shingleton said the lifejacket message was particularly aimed at middle-aged European men who made up the majority of boaties who died.
With a quarter of the boating population based in Auckland, Maritime NZ also wanted to alert migrants and tourists, who were perhaps not used to New Zealand's conditions, to the risks.
Boaties were also urged to check the weather forecast before heading out, avoid alcohol and to have two ways of communication that worked if they got wet.
5 Water safety tips
1) Be prepared
Know the weather and water conditions before you go in.
2) Watch out for yourself and others
Pay close attention to children you are supervising. Swim with others and in areas with lifeguards.
3) Be aware of the dangers
Enter shallow and unknown water feet first and obey all safety signs and warning flags. Do not enter the water after drinking alcohol.
4) Know your limits
Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience. Learn safe ways of rescuing others.
5) Use the right gear
Wear lifejackets at all times when boating. Take two forms of communication and make sure your equipment is up to date.