A search and rescue report shows almost 3000 incidents were handled over the past year, a 25% increase on the previous year.
In its annual report, the Search and Rescue Council says there were 2,932 rescue situations - an average of eight a day.
National Search and Rescue coordinator Senior Sergeant Bruce Johnston puts the record figures down to mild weather and people being more active outdoors.
He says tighter economic times meant many people going boating went for shorter trips and took less fuel and provisions, resulting in more rescues.
"In some ways people think they're going for a short trip don't think they need to be prepared as well. There's no two ways about it, whether its the land or the marine environment, you need to be prepared for any trip you take into the outdoors."
Surf Lifesaving New Zealand had a record 1600 rescues because of the hot summer.