A new safety code for land-based outdoor recreation

20th November 2020|3min

The New Zealand summer is fast approaching and it’s said to be one of the busiest summers in the outdoors, even with borders closed to international travellers.

With New Zealanders restricted to domestic travel, and numerous campaigns promoting Kiwis to get out and see Aotearoa, there is to be an expected surge of people who will get out walking, tramping, biking, hunting and many other popular activities.

A number of the country’s outdoor safety, and search and rescue response organisations have collaborated to launch a new Land Safety Code, aiming to make sure people are safe while enjoying the outdoors.

The Land Safety Code provides an easy five step guide of the most important things you should do before, and during, any land-based recreation. This includes tramping, day walking, hunting, and the numerous activities people enjoy in our outdoor spaces.

The NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC), Department of Conservation (DOC), Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR), Rescue Co-Ordination Centre NZ, NZ Police, MetService New Zealand, Auckland Council, and NZ Search and Rescue collaborated on the project, with New Zealander’s safety as the priority.

MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley said as more people are predicted to head outdoors this summer, making sure Kiwis know how to be safe was more important than ever.

“We want Kiwis to be safe in the outdoors this summer and it is exciting to hear the stories of people planning their first overnight tramp or taking the kids out to explore new places.

“The Code has been designed to mean something to everyone and to make it simple so everyone can follow the advice,” Daisley said.

The review and re-development of the Land Safety Code was based on extensive evidence of safety incidents over the last 10 years, and Daisley said it was this evidence-based approach that means the Code will make a difference.

“The five points are all actions that we know will improve your safety, they are the things that make a difference.”

DOC is predicting a busy summer on its tracks, in its huts and campsites with people looking to enjoy the country’s nature.

Heritage and Visitors Director Steve Taylor encourages people to follow the Land Safety Code to have a good time and get home safely. 

“It’s vital people choose the right trip or activity for their skills and experience, and to carefully consider what risks there may be, particularly if doing something new.

“New Zealand’s weather can change fast, even in summer, so before heading out people should check the latest weather forecast and change their plans if bad weather could make the going difficult,” Taylor said.

Land Search and Rescue Chief Executive Carl McOnie said that while our professionally trained volunteers are always there to help people who get lost or into trouble, the preference is to see people looking after themselves, and each other, to minimise the need for outside help.

“It would be awesome to see more people adopting personal prevention measures like those listed in the Land Safety Code.

“If everyone followed the five steps, we know more people would have an enjoyable, and safer experience in the outdoors,” McOnie said.

The Land Safety Code is:

1. Choose the right trip for you

Learn about the route and make sure you have the skills for it.

2. Understand the weather

It can change fast. Check the forecast and change your plans if needed.

3. Pack warm clothes and extra food

Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.

4. Share your plans and take ways to get help

Telling a trusted person your trip details and taking a distress beacon can save your life.

5. Take care of yourself and each other

Eat, drink, and rest, stick with your group and make decisions together.