Water rescues were up 14 per cent this year, compared to 2015, Surf Life Saving New Zealand says.

There were 1513 lifeguard rescues from 'life-threatening situations' this summer - up from the 1328 last year, Paul Dalton, CEO of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, said.

Lifeguards also carried out 1946 first aid treatments, 299 searches and 107,805 'preventable actions' which stopped people needing rescued.

Lifeguards across the country spent more than 220,000 hours patrolling the nation's beaches last season - 141,690 of these hours were voluntary.


"Volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity organisation and it's important to celebrate them and the role they play," Mr Dalton said.

Volunteering for Surf Life Saving is a "lifetime commitment" for many members, he said.

The figures were released to coincide with National Volunteer Week, which began yesterday. This year's campaign is being described as a "call to action", urging people to "make time".

The focus is on celebrating the 1.2 million volunteers in New Zealand who make time to volunteer, and encouraging more people to contribute their time.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand holds an annual awards ceremony to honour lifeguards, which will be held in Auckland on September 24.