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Drowning Statistics

New Zealand's Drowning Problem

With any water comes risk and sadly every year far too many people lose their lives or are injured in, on or around the water. The tragedy is that most drownings and injuries are preventable.

Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand – after motor vehicle accidents and falls.

Males are four times more likely to drown than females, and people across all age groups lose their life in the water.

Immersion incidents, where the victims had no intention of being in the water, remain the largest cause of drowning, followed by incidents where people simply went for a swim.

Hospitalisations are non-fatal drownings resulting in a hospital stay of at least 24 hours.

2018 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report 


2017 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2016 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2015 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2014 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2013 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2012 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


2011 New Zealand Drowning Prevention Report


Important Note

WSNZ gives no warranty as to the correctness of the information or the data provided as it is supplied to WSNZ by third parties under its control. While WSNZ is satisfied as to its accuracy for the purposes for which it is supplied to it, WSNZ shall not be liable for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly from the use of any data supplied. All reported statistics are provisional.



New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD. In 2017 there were 92 preventable deaths, all entirely preventable. Each one leaves families and communities devastated.

Our drowning toll is something every New Zealander should see as a national disgrace and one we all have a responsibility to address.


Weekly Drowning Report

Drowning Fatalities 15 March 2019


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