Staying safe

Our parks are for you to explore and we want you to have an enjoyable time so follow this advice.

In this section you’ll find:

    Helpful tips before setting off

    Use common sense when deciding where to go and what to do.

    Learn more about your destination or activity before going and if it involves going on a walking trail, take sensible precautions.

    At some times of the year restrictions are in place including rahui (banning of shellfish collection), park closures and fire bans.

    During long weekends and summer holidays some locations get very popular and parking is at a premium. Have an alternative location in mind in case you find your first option too busy.

    There is always the possibility of theft from vehicles. Lock your vehicle and take your valuables with you.


    Driving advice

    Getting to some parks involves driving on unsealed roads or in windy conditions.

    • Take extra care and allocate yourself additional travel time.
    • Driving in such conditions can made you tired, especially after a day in the fresh air. If you feel sleepy pull over safely and take a nap, or if possible, swap driving duties. 
    • These roads can be very narrow. Reduce your speed to below 40-50 km/h to help you to maintain control of your vehicle and slow down even further when approaching oncoming traffic as the dust will obscure your vision.
    • Take special care when driving downhill and around corners on metal roads; slow down and don't brake suddenly.
    • Check whether you are insured before driving a rental car on unsealed roads.
    • If you are heading home after a long day at a park on the east coast, the setting sun can reduce your visibility. Slow down, and if necessary wait until the angle has changed. It is better to park somewhere safe and enjoy the sunset.


    Tips for trampers

    Before setting out on a tramp, make sure you have the right equipment. Even though this is Auckland, it has been known to snow on top of the Hunua Ranges!

    • Carry a map, food, water, jacket and warm hat, even in summer. Depending on the length of the trip, you should also consider including a hooded raincoat, over-pants, hat and gloves, warm and fast-drying tops, trousers and shorts, and thermal underwear made from wool or polypropylene.
    • Many tracks require good footwear or tramping boots, and you should expect to get muddy on most tramping tracks and routes - especially during winter.
    • The NZ Mountain Safety Council has some helpful advice to check out:
    • Tell someone your plans - return date and time, planned route, party member names and vehicle details - and do not forget to check in when you return. The Mountain Safety Council has a form you can print and give to your trusted contact, or you can fill it out online and send it to them.
      • You can alternatively leave your form at the Arataki Visitor Centre.

    You can order a map from Auckland Council Parks. Contact us or pick one up from the Arataki Visitor Centre.

    Do not rely on your mobile. In some parks, mobile coverage is patchy or your battery might go flat.

    If you want to improve your skills, your experience or simply find some people to tramp with you could try joining one of these clubs.

    If you are here for a brief holiday, you can join a guided tour with an approved operator.


    Tips for campers

    In addition to the tips above, be aware:

    • Backcountry campgrounds have limited facilities, so ensure you take everything you need for your stay (including toilet paper) and take away everything you brought in ensuring the campground remains free of pests for your next visit.
    • Be careful with cooking and watch for others.
    • Open fires are banned in all campgrounds but some have BBQ cooking areas available, in which case you may need to supply your own wood.
    • Ensure you have good ventilation when using portable cookers and lamps to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Always change fuel canisters outside once they have cooled down, and stay away from other appliances as the canister may still contain some fuel that could ignite.
    • If the water is not marked safe for consumption, ensure you treat it prior to using. This can be done by boiling, purifying or with approved water filters.


    Tips for rock fishing

    Rock fishing has a high fatality rate, so follow these tips.

    • Learn how to swim for your survival.
    • Before leaving home, check the swell, weather and tide forecast
    • Wear lace-up shoes such as basketball boots, and never wear gumboots.
    • Wear a buoyancy aid such as an inflatable lifejacket.
    • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
    • Take a mobile.
    • Never fish alone. 
    • Avoid alcohol, as it affects your judgment and slows reaction.
    • Follow the advice of safety signs.
    • Don’t trust ropes or cables attached to rocks.
    • Beware of large and unexpected waves.
    • Never turn your back on the ocean. Be prepared to quickly climb to safety.
    • Have an escape route for large waves and don’t get stranded by the incoming tide.
    • Maintain a safe distance from the water, especially when there is swell.
    • Avoid surf spray or wet rocks that have been swept by spray.
    • Beware of slippery rocks.
    • If a fish or equipment is swept into a dangerous area or the ocean, leave it there.
    • If in doubt about the conditions or your own ability, find a safer location.
    • If you’re on the west coast, be aware you may not be used to this type of coastline. Because of the wind, there are almost always large waves. Be extra careful when waves or the swell are rising on an incoming tide. Fishing can be unsafe at these times as you could be cut off from an escape route.
    • Be prepared. Carry a length of rope, first aid kit, flashlight and a handheld flare. Have an emergency plan and know how to find help. Learn first aid for hypothermia and injuries such as concussion, cuts, sprains, dislocation and fractures.
    • In an emergency, call 111.


    Be sunsmart

    Ultraviolet radiation is far more intense in New Zealand than in most other countries. Sunburn is painful and can cause skin cancer.

    • Use sunblock (SPF 30+ or more is recommended).
    • Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
    • Cover up with a long-sleeve cotton shirt.
    • Use a shade tent or umbrella.
    • Wear UV-protective sunglasses.
    • Always take a bottle of fresh water with you and drink water regularly to avoid dehydration and heat stress.



    Water and surf beach safety tips

    There are many opportunities to enjoy water sports in our parks, but there is always the chance something can go wrong.

    • If you are going paddling or boating, ensure everyone has personal floatation devices and safety equipment.
    • Before leaving check the maritime forecast and keep an eye on the weather.
    • If you are a visitor to New Zealand, take extra care and ask locals about the surf conditions prior to entering the water and go to beaches that are patrolled by surf lifeguards.
    • Swim between the flags on beaches patrolled by trained surf lifeguards and only when lifeguards are on patrol.
    • Listen to the advice from surf lifeguards.
    • Never swim or surf alone.
    • If in doubt, stay out.
    • Learn to recognise rip currents. Regularly check your position against a landmark such as lifeguard flags to help maintain a fixed position and alert you to dangerous currents.
    • Always use the correct and safe equipment.
    • Never swim when tired or cold.
    • Consider other water users.
    • Do not leave children unattended near water.
    • Never run or dive into water before checking the water depth first.
    • Avoid alcohol, as it affects your judgment and the ability to hold your breath.
    • Don’t depend on flotation devices such as boogie boards as you can lose them in large waves.
    • Don’t wear street clothes in the water.
    • If you get into trouble at a lifeguard supervised beach, raise your arm for assistance, float and wait for help.


    Dealing with rips

    Surf beaches are notorious for large waves and ‘rips', which often catch swimmers off-guard and quickly drag them out to sea. Rips are channels of swift-moving water returning to sea.

    To identify rips, watch for:

    • Calm patches in the surf with waves breaking either side
    • Rippled or ‘criss-crossed' water
    • Darker water due to depth or sand stirred up off the bottom
    • Foamy water with debris extending beyond the surf break

    Watch the ocean for at least 10 minutes before entering the water and always avoid areas showing any of these signs. If in doubt, stay out of the water.

    If you are caught in a rip:

    • Stay calm and conserve your energy.
    • If you are a weak swimmer, float with the current and try to swim parallel to the shore until reaching the breaking wave zone, then swim back to shore or signal for help.
    • If you are a strong swimmer, swim at a 45 degree angle across the rip in the same direction as the current until you reach the breaking wave zone, then return to shore.

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