The Bay of Plenty is a paddling paradise so here are some simple tips to keep you safe when you head out on the water.


  • Equipment: you MUST carry a correctly fitting lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD). We recommend you wear one at all times.
  • Make sure you have at least one form of waterproof communication, like a cell phone in a waterproof bag or a VHF radio.
  • Wear suitable warm clothing.
  • Carry a bailer or pump.
  • Check the weather and tides before heading out.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Kayak with mates.
  • Be visible. Sticking reflective day glow or high visibility tape to your paddle blades is a good idea.
  • Know your limitations.
  • Talk to a local if you’re paddling in a new area - contact your local canoe/kayak retailer or local Coastguard unit.
  • Make sure your kayak is clearly marked with emergency contact details.


  • Check the weather. It’s vital to know what the wind is forecast to do during your paddleboarding adventure.
  • Check the tides so you know what to expect during your time out on the water.
  • Avoid offshore winds. These are the ones that blow you away from the shore. Plan your trip and launching site with this in mind.
  • Paddle with a mate. It’s more fun and safer with a friend or in a group.
  • Carry at least one form of waterproof communications - this could be a VHF radio or cell phone in a waterproof bag.
  • Learning. Take a lesson from a professional paddleboard instructor to learn good techniques early and gain maximum enjoyment from this sport.
  • Safety. Avoid areas where there are lots of other boats, strong currents and dangerous rocks. Don’t be afraid to adopt the ‘safe position’ (paddle from a kneeling position) to get back to the shore if you’re finding it too hard or unstable, or there is too much wind.
  • When paddleboarding on flat water you must carry a PFD and we recommend you wear it at all times. Your paddleboard is the biggest flotation device you have, so stay with it. Wear a leash when paddling on flat water.
  • Stand up paddle boards in the surf are exempt from carrying communications or carrying a PFD, as long as you are wearing a leash.
  • In fast flowing rivers it is recommended that you wear a PFD but do not wear your leash.

Paddling at night

Maritime rules require kayakers to carry a torch to prevent collision. However, holding a torch may prevent you from paddling effectively and therefore being seen! Wearing a head torch allows your arms to be free to paddle. Or, mounting an all-round white light on your rear deck above head-height means you will be visible from all directions.