Approaching two long weekends in a horror summer of drownings, water safety authorities are urging caution to one particular group - older men.
Fourteen people died in the country's waterways over the Christmas New Year period – the highest number in 25 years.
Water Safety NZ Chief executive Daniel Gerrard said there had been 18 preventable drownings so far this year, which is a quarter of last year's total in less than a month.
This time last year, there had only been eight.
Gerrard said their data so far had shown "older guys behaving badly" was the area they needed to focus on.
"They're a difficult group to engage with, but it's really about being out there with your mates and not being 'that guy' that does the foolish thing," he said.
"[We need to get] any messaging we can to those guys to stop and think about their family, about their friends, before they jump in, or turn the motor on the boat.
"It's often not seen as risky behaviour – it's overestimating your ability and underestimating the conditions."
He was not expecting any fewer people on the waterways this long weekend, even though New Zealand was now at the red light setting due to the spread of Omicron.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) National Search and Rescue manager Allan Mundy said drowning statistics showed it to be mostly middle-aged males "who think they're 10 feet tall and bullet proof".
Findings from the 2021 statistics showed 84 per cent of the drowning victims were male, and 96 per cent of the Māori drowning deaths.
Mundy said we could perhaps engage with our young people to remind their older whānau of key water safety messages.
"I know when I was a young, dad and I once forgot to put my seatbelt on and one day my son reminded me very quickly," he said.
"Maybe we can reach out to our young ones and say 'if you know Dad's going down to the water, remind him of the water safety messaging.'
"Let's remind our whānau and our elders of those hints because they might have forgotten them.
"What's better than it coming from your mokopuna to make sure they came back, because they're going to be relying on me for years to come."
Mundy said the number of drownings this summer had been "disheartening", and particularly "harrowing" for their – often young - personnel involved in rescue missions.
A "perfect storm" of ideal weather conditions this summer had meant people were out in the water and exposed to hazards for longer.
They had also observed the "Covid effect" of people choosing more secluded swimming spots to avoid crowds.
"The issue is a lot of these areas are not patrolled by lifeguards because there's just never been that public need, and the community there is not able to support a life-saving service."
"If something goes wrong we're unable to reach them in those crucial few minutes that we need to prevent a drowning."
"They're still better off going to Mt Manganui beach, or Omanu or Papamoa where there's lots of people, but there's lots of kilometers and resources there to handle those crowds."
Most major beaches would have lifeguards over the next two long weekends, but people could go to the Safeswim NZ website to check which were patrolled.
SLSNZ had also teamed up with DHL Express in a digital campaign called "Claim your spot" in an effort to spread water safety messaging this summer.
By visiting the "Claim your spot" website, players are asked water safety questions before given a "towel" to place on a randomised location on the digital beach.
Whoever selects the same spot as DHL and SLSNZ win $2000 for themselves, as well as $2000 for their chosen New Zealand surf club.
Mundy said the campaign aimed to reinforce some basic safety messages.
"This way the lifeguards don't have to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff," Mundy said.
"By this initiative from DHL we're able to get the messages out there so they can actually be at the top of the cliff and help people before they get into trouble."
"If people were to swim between the flags, choose a lifeguarded beach, even if they got in trouble, we would still be able to reach them."
"It's no different from jumping in the car and putting on your seatbelt, but when you're in the water and something goes wrong, you can't just pull over to the side of the road – you're stuck in that situation."