New Zealand is a wonderful place to enjoy outdoor recreational activities. You could be on a boat one day, fishing from the shoreline the next; walking into the hills one morning and then swimming at the river or kayaking on the lake that afternoon - there's something for everyone's experience and adventure level.
However, with suddenly changeable weather, often unpredictable terrain and waters, and sometimes un-signposted dangers - to be able to enjoy New Zealand's outdoors safely, everyone needs to be properly equipped, prepared and informed - if the unexpected happens, it will make all the difference.
Some top tips
There are specific and important things that you need to know about recreational activities, additional to the tips that are listed below. Make sure you check out the Safety Codes specifically designed for Tramping / Walking / Hiking, Land Sports and Activities, Water Recreation, Fishing, Boating and Snow Activities, and connect to important resources and organisations about your planned activities. There may be more to it than you think.
Top tip 1: Always 'mention your intentions'
Whether it's a casual walk or a quick fish, a three-day hike or a week-long trip on a boat - every situation can take a turn for the worst. Aside from central cities and towns, many outdoor locations in New Zealand can have little-to-no cell phone coverage - meaning that you need to tell someone your plans before you go. Complete AdventureSmart's intentions form and email it to a trusted contact, before you go. Even if it's just a quick trip - telling someone your plans (so that they can raise the alarm if you aren't back when expected) may just save your life.
Top tip 2: Check the right weather forecast (yes, there is more than one!)
The forecasts for mountains, snow, marine and coastline are all different from the ‘normal’ weather forecast you may find online or on your smartphone. Even if you don’t intend to be out for long, you need to check the specific forecast for the area that you are going into - never rely solely on town or city weather forecasts because conditions can be so different away from central areas. The weather can also change considerably and potential changes should not be taken lightly. MetService(external link) provides the official weather forecasts and warnings for New Zealand. Visit their website as close as possible to the time that you head out, or you could even get in touch with them directly through their contact page.
The New Zealand Avalanche Advisory(external link) (external link)provides detailed information about areas with snow where there may be a chance of an avalanche. It is very important to check the snow conditions before heading out.
Top tip 3: Be responsible for your own safety
Self-responsibility is part of recreation in New Zealand. You are expected to be responsible for your own safety and preparation. Many activities will require specific knowledge and sometimes will require training in advance. If you are travelling from overseas, you need to take particular note that even if you have done the activity elsewhere, New Zealand conditions are often unique (and potentially more hazardous). Note - hazards are often not sign-posted: however, just because there isn’t a warning sign, doesn’t mean there may not be danger.
Top tip 4: Understand your limits
While there are many recreational activities in New Zealand that are thrill-seeking, even the more relaxed activities still require you to understand your limits - your general health, fitness levels and your ability to undertake the activity in the potentially 'worst' conditions, are all factors. You also need to consider the limits for anyone who is coming with you, the limits of the equipment and clothing you have, and the ability for you or your group to undertake an activity on that specific day, taking into account weather or condition changes. Respect your limits. Know them - stick to them.
Top tip 5: Be prepared
Make sure that you are prepared by using these top tips alongside the information specific to Tramping / Walking / Hiking, Land Sports and Activities, Water Recreation, Fishing, Boating and Snow Activities.