More boaties are putting their safety first as recreational boating deaths have dropped this past summer season.

In the 2015 to 2016 summer season, four people died from boating accidents, down from 20 in the 2014-2015 summer season.

Associate transport minister Craig Foss said this was a significant decrease and it showed targeted safety campaigns were "hitting the mark".

"One death is one too many but the reduced toll is a huge step in the right direction," he said.


Research by Maritime New Zealand revealed almost 80 per cent of recreational boaties wore a lifejacket at all times on the water, in comparison to 62 per cent in 2013.

"I'm pleased to say more and more boaties are putting safety first and, as a result, making it home to their families after a day on the water.

"This is helped by the huge amount of educational work done by the Safer Boating Forum, including regional councils, over many years."

"The single biggest factor in saving recreational boaties' lives is wearing a lifejacket. Last summer, in a world first, Maritime NZ used GPS to send text messages reminding boaties to wear a lifejacket. This 'virtual Coastguard' sent 3 million reminders and quite possibly saved lives," he said.