It appears this summer and holiday season has been both a fun and safe one so far for those who have chosen to enjoy the sun and heat out on the sparkling water.

Bay of Plenty Harbourmaster Peter Buell said this season had had a good start with a lot of people taking to the water thanks to the warm weather.

"In general people have been behaving reasonably well so far this season."

He said the team had spoken with more than 2000 boaties so far and issued about 200 warnings.


"A large number of these have been for not naming boats and registering jetskis. For the most part people are quickly correcting this which is good to see."

Buell said the team were still seeing the same mistakes made as they do every year, which included people not having lifejackets - although this was slowly improving, speeding and not having an observer when skiing.

"After a horrible 2017 with nine boating related deaths in the Bay of Plenty I'm happy to be able to report that we had none in 2018.

"This is something we want to continue through 2019 too."

Buell said patrols would remain out over summer providing education and, when needed, enforcement to keep the waterways safe for everyone.

"At the end of the day, we just want everyone to be able to enjoy the water and make sure every trip ends with everyone home safely."

If people were unsure of the rules or wanted to learn more, see or talk to one of the patrollers.

Coastguard Rotorua Lakes duty officer Cathy Punter said so far this holiday season everyone had been good out on the lakes.


"We've had minimal callouts, mainly for mechanical issues."

Although they had not had many callouts, from what she understood it had been fairly busy on the water with quite a few boats out.

Punter said it seemed people were more aware of lifejacket safety and having two forms of communication calls.

"Just always be safe - make sure people are aware of where you're going and keep an eye out on everyone else. Everyone should be aware of what people are up to on the lakes."

Looking back at the six Rotorua drownings and then forward into 2019, Punter said Coastguard hoped people were safer and took precautions when out on the water.

She said lifejackets were always important and needed to be worn, not just having them on board.

"They are so comfortable and wearable these days, they needn't be a burden."

She suggested making the most of the lifejacket swaps which Coastguard runs around the country too.

She said the lakes were covered by the Coastguard radio network which anyone could contact on channel 02 for trip reports and general assistance.

Whakatane Coastguard president Jim Williamson also said people's water behaviour had been good so far.

He said there were probably about 100 boats out a day which was pretty reasonable.

Williamson said the lifejacket rule was being adhered to by most, having to wear it crossing bars.

"If you're out-of-towners in our area make sure you check the conditions, especially the bar conditions. A swell can pop up on you and make it a bit uncomfortable."

He also reminded people to do their trip reporting to Coastguard.

Meanwhile, the Bay of Plenty recorded 13 preventable drownings in 2018, according to new data.

Water Safety New Zealand data showed that of the 13 preventable drownings in the region last year six - nearly half - were in the Rotorua district.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said there had been a jump in preventable fatalities for people aged 55-plus and in fatal incidents involving people of Asian ethnicity since 2017.

Mills said in most cases there was either a lack of skills or bad decision making.

"While our waterways are our playground they can be unforgiving and need to be treated with appropriate respect. Everyone has a responsibility to take water safety seriously," he said.

Boating Safety Code
• Take and wear lifejackets
• Skipper responsibility - the skipper is responsible for the safety of everyone on board and for the safe operation of the boat. Stay within the limits of your vessel and your experience
• Take two separate waterproof ways of communicating for if you get into difficulties
• Check the local marine weather forecast before you go and expect both weather and sea state changes
• Avoid alcohol - safe boating and alcohol do not mix
Source: Coastguard NZ

Bay of Plenty drownings by the numbers. Source / Water Safety New Zealand
Bay of Plenty drownings by the numbers. Source / Water Safety New Zealand