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New Zealand Stand up Paddling


Safety Guidelines for Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding is generally considered a pretty safe sport. However, like any activity on the water, there is the potential for something to go wrong, especially with New Zealand’s notoriously unpredictable weather. So, even if you’re a super experienced water-person, we recommend that you follow the SUP SAFE code whenever you’re going out for a paddle.

The SUP SAFE Code:

Click on each heading to get the full lowdown on each item.

Always wear a leash. Without one, it’s super easy to become separated from your board, especially in a breeze.

• In surf only use a straight ankle/calf leash
• In strong currents (rivers, harbour mouths etc), only use a leash with a quick-release system that can be operated from above the waist, NEVER attached to your ankle or calf.

It's a legal requirement in New Zealand to have a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when paddleboarding. You can be fined up to $500 if you are caught without one!

A PFD makes total sense for safety reasons too. It will greatly increase your survival time in the water should you become separated from your board.

• Beginners and non/weak swimmers should wear a buoyancy vest [link to your product]
• The beltpack PFD [link to your product] is an excellent low-profile option for experienced stand-up paddlers

• Before you go, know the weather, wind strength and direction (now and forecast), tide height and flow, and water temperature.
• Is your ability, equipment and clothing right for the conditions?

• You never know when you’re going to need to call for help, so carry two forms of communication.
• One can simply be the whistle attached to your PFD.
• The other should ideally be your phone in a waterproof case as it’s great to have your phone for getting that weather info, or taking pix or vids or your trip.
• If there’s no signal in your area, then consider a hand-held VHF (emergency channel 16) or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

• Even if you’re paddling with others (always safest!), make sure someone onshore knows that you’re on the water, where you’re going and how long you will be. Tell them when you get back
too, and make sure you have a clear plan on what they should do if you fail to check in!

For much more detailed guidance on SUP safety including free safety and education courses, check out





Beginners and inexperienced



While you’re learning the basics stack the odds in your favour as much as possible. Restrict your

paddling to flat shallow water, and light winds.

The one overriding factor to remember is that in your early days, the wind is not your friend. It’s hard

to paddle against the wind, so just don’t take any chances with it.

And remember too, just because it’s called stand-up-paddleboarding doesn’t mean it’s compulsory

to stand up.

If you’re having trouble staying on because it’s getting rough, or you’re struggling to make headway

against the wind, kneel down, hold the paddle with both hands low down the shaft, and you’ll find it

far easier (and more stable) to make progress.


5 Simple Steps

5 Simple Steps

Keep safe when you're out on the water by following the 5 simple rules of the SUP SAFE code.

Super easy to follow, and they don't reduce your enjoyment or fun factor.