Years of campaigns are finally striking a chord with boaties, with the number wearing a lifejacket on the rise, water safety groups say.
New research from Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) shows 78 percent of the 597 boaties surveyed were wearing a lifejacket, up from 62 percent just two years ago.
MNZ deputy director Lindsay Sturt said a lifejacket should be thought of like a seatbelt.
"People are starting to realise how important it is to wear a lifejacket and how easy accidents can happen," he said.
"It's difficult to put a lifejacket on if you're carrying one, or if it's being stored in a compartment on a boat - you hit the water very quickly."
Many boaties had thought they were invincible in the past.
"Most of the people who are dying out there are older males who have become quite complacent after boating for many years," he said.
"That's an entrenched view but we are seeing it improve over time."
Coastguard spokesman Neil Murray said the research held true with what he had seen this summer.
"It's definitely very evident on the water that more people are wearing lifejackets, whether that's people going fishing, in kayaks, or people on larger yachts."
Improving fashion plays a big part, he said.
"Lifejackets are no longer a big, bulky thing you put on if you think the boat's about to sink. They're now something that's slimline and comfortable to wear, so it's more socially acceptable to do so."
The survey also showed more than a quarter of boaties thought safety more important than they did a year ago.