Want to shoot images of stand up paddle boarders (SUP) this summer? Make sure you are aware of NZ’s safety regulations and that you bring the necessary gear so that your image is compliant with the law.

Here is a brief overview of NZ Maritime law, to help you understand what is required.

Because SUP is currently categorised as a paddle craft in the NZ Maritime Law, the same safety regulations than Kayaks and other water sports apply to SUP.

Which means that all SUP must carry a personal flotation device (PFD) – also designated as buoyancy aid – at all times when on the water.

It does not matter if they are paddling 1m or 1km away from the shore. Without an appropriate PFD, SUP can and will very likely be fined.

The PFD must provide at least a 50N of buoyancy when inflated. Therefore a wetsuit or impact vest will not suffice. Life jackets and belt-packs are the safest and most practical option for stand up paddle boarding. But be careful as not all beltpack PFDs are certified for use in New Zealand so make sure that you use a PFD that meets the required standards.

A couple of exemptions have been agreed upon: stand up paddle boarders are not required to wear a buoyancy aid if…

  1.  they are actively involved in surfing.
  2. they are participating to a competitive event, but only if the event has safety boat backup and rules allow PFDs not to be worn.

NZSUP is also currently talking with NZ Maritime Law to ensure proper recognition of SUP and adapt the specific safety requirements. But this is likely going to take a while… So, in the meantime, if you organise a shoot with stand up paddle boarders this summer, make sure your models carry a Personal Flotation Device and ideally wear a leash (legrope) as well when on the water…

Signing off,
The One Shot team.