SUP Safety


Rule 91.4
Maritime NZ 
Personal flotation devices
No person in charge of a recreational craft may use it unless there are on board at the time of use, and in a readily accessible location, sufficient personal flotation devices of an appropriate size for each person on board.
Rule 91.4(1) and (6) shall not apply to –
  1. (a)  any surfboard or similar unpowered craft; and
  2. (b)  any sailboarder or windsurfer, if a wetsuit is worn at all times; and
  3. (c)  a diver on a boat of 6 metres or less in length overall that is used for recreational diving within 5 miles of shore, if a full body wetsuit is worn at all times; and
  4. (d)  a person training for or participating in a sporting event, if the training or the event is supervised in accordance with the safety system of a national sporting organisation approved by the Director; and
  5. (e)  a member of a visiting foreign watersports team, if the person carries or wears a personal flotation device that is approved by the competent authority for use in that person’s country of residence.
  6. (f)  a commercial raft.
“Paddle craft” means powered only by a craft’s occupant(s) using a single or double bladed paddle as a lever without the aid of a fulcrum provided by rowlocks, thole pins, crutches or like arrangements, but does not include a raft manoeuvred solely by paddles: strongly advocates the wearing of a pfd or buoyancy aid, as per current maritime laws dictate. We also highly recommend following some other well served advice, when Stand Up Paddling in BOP region;

*Talk to the friendly locals. Any of the local operators or recreational paddlers will be more than happy to advise on potential hazards that may be worthy of note. Information on weather, tidal currents, navigational channels and general access to different areas within the region, is best sourced through the local SUP community.

*Paddle with a friend. Or let people know when and where you will be paddling.

*Always SUP with a legrope/surf leash,(river paddling, represents the exception due to the prevalence of obstacles and the effects of increased water flow).

*Aim to be highly visible when crossing busy navigational routes.

*Bag a cellphone when distance paddling. 

*Be courteous in the surf, observing traditional wave etiquette and giving plenty of space to other wave riders.

From Bay of Plenty Regional Council

  • Check the weather. It's vital to know what the wind is forecast to do during your paddleboarding adventure. 
  • Check the tides.  Check the tides so you know what to expect during your time out on the water.
  • We recommend you wear a personal floatation device (PFD) and a leash when paddling on flat water. 
  • You must carry a personal floatation device on flat water. **
  • Your paddleboard is the biggest floatation device you have, so stay with it. Wear a leash when paddling on flat 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 communication – this could be a cellphone or VHF in a dry 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.
** 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.


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