Lifejackets are essential for all recreational activities on the water.

Check your lifejackets

an old kapok filled lifejacket lying on the deck of a boat

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

Read more

The right lifejacket will suit your boating activities and crew

two children on a boat wearing lifejackets

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
Our boating expert talks about the different types of lifejackets available for the types of water-based activities you’re undertaking.

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