Lifejackets are essential for all recreational activities on the water.

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Check your lifejackets

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Lifejackets with kapok filling or cotton straps are unsafe and could fail when used. Find out more about old lifejackets.

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The right lifejacket will suit your boating activities and crew

Lifejackets come in a variety of sizes, shapes and buoyancy ratings.

When choosing a lifejacket, consider:

the type of recreational activities you do on water

the distance you plan to travel away from shore

the weather and sea conditions you will encounter

the local bylaws that may apply to your region

the sizes available for children

What type do you need?

Did you know?

Most accidents occur suddenly with no warning

There may be no time to grab a lifejacket unless it is close at hand, and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put on a lifejacket once you are in the water.

Crotch straps are recommended in situations other than very calm water

Even when tightly secured, lifejackets have a tendency to ride up on the wearer if there is any wave action. Crotch straps are mandatory for all child-sized lifejackets and in some yacht racing situations.

Size matters

Most drownings in boating accidents involve craft under 6 metres. Everyone on board boats under 6 metres should wear a lifejacket, unless the skipper has assessed this is not necessary, due to the low risk at the time.

We recommend that non-swimmers and children wear lifejackets at all times.

Regional council bylaws

Some bylaws go further than maritime rules, making the wearing of lifejackets compulsory for all on board small craft.

Check your local regional council bylaws for the requirements that apply in the waters in your part of New Zealand.

Find your regional bylaws

Related information:
Taking precautions and knowing the right survival techniques can make a difference to your trip.

Survive cold water

Improve your chances of survival before you go overboard.

See survival tips
Learn about our latest safety campaign and messages for recreational boaties.

Safety campaigns

Read about the events and initiatives supporting Maritime NZ’s safety campaigns and messages.

See all campaigns

For more information

Contact Us

If you have any questions about lifejackets, talk to our recreational boating team.


New Zealand (toll free):
0508 225 522