Canoe Racing New Zealand strongly recommends that each club puts in place a list of safety policies and procedures to assist your club. These could be a set of rules that clubs members agree to abide by.  If you can, this could be monitored by a Club Safety Officer. The Club Safety Officer should be someone who is experienced with on-the-water and off-the-water safety elements. There are a number of duties that a safety officer can carry out, this includes:
  • Equipment maintenance
  • A log book or contact sheet of boats out on the water at any time.  It’s a good idea to have a book in the boat shed that everyone signs in and out on whenever they take a boat out (even if it is their own boat).
  • Regular communication of required and recommended safety gear
  • Ensuring compliance with New Zealand Maritime Rules and Local Bylaw and communicating these to the club and paddlers (for example some harbourmasters require PFDs be worn)
  • Checking the weather and communicating conditions to club paddlers
  • Rescue towing, capsizing and swamping procedures
  • Encouraging the Club to adopt a safety plan including what to do in emergencies and what a paddler should do if they get in trouble on the water
  • Encouraging the Club to adopt policies for the management of risks on and off the water
Club Safety Officers will also play an important role at Canoe Racing Events too, such as:
  • Making club volunteers aware of their duties to ensure the safety of event participants
  • Making sure safety checks are carried out at all events
  • Ensuring there is a first aid kit and/or medical professional on hand at your club tent
  • Ensuring all volunteers and officials are aware of all emergency procedures on and off the water.

When running an event it is essential to put together an appropriate safety plan, whether it is a training session or a competitive event.  The basic event safety template may be useful in putting this together.  Setting up a standard template to suit your training environment is a good idea, as it only needs to be tweaked slightly for each use to suit the conditions and the numbers attending training.


The aim of local bylaws is to ensure the safety of waterway users and reduce the conflicts between different water-based activities (including lakes, rivers or harbours).  Instant fines may be given for offences against a regional bylaw, and for more serious offences you may be prosecuted. Check with the area you are paddling in to determine the specific bylaws.



Bay of Plenty Region: 

Gisborne District:

Hawke’s Bay:


Northland Region:

Taranaki Region:

Waikato Region:

Wellington Region:


Environment Canterbury:

Central Otago District:

Grey District Council:

Marlborough Region:

Nelson City:

Otago Regional Council:

Queenstown Lakes District:

Southland Regional Council:

Tasman District Council:

West Coast Region:




The MarineMate smartphone app has local boating bylaws and information for most New Zealand regions.