A water safety advocate says the holiday period is the peak season for hitting the water but New Zealanders need to take responsibility for their safety.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said four of the five men who drowned over the Christmas holiday period were fishing or gathering seafood.
He said New Zealand has one of the largest coastlines in the world and while drowning figures spike over the period, many of the tragedies are preventable.
Mr Claridge said boaties and fishermen need to wear lifejackets, watch the weather, avoid drinking alcohol and let others know where they are going.
Two men drowned while fishing off rocks near Dargaville, a third while scuba diving at Motiti Island and the fourth while fishing off a wharf in Tauranga.
The fifth drowning occurred in a bath at home.
Mr Claridge said the number could have been higher, as there were some close calls.