Obey all safety signs and warning flags*

Signs and flags inform you about dangers or show you where it is safer to swim. They also show important information such as tides, underwater hazards, waves or currents.

Flags are often used to indicate designated, restricted or prohibited areas such as lifeguarded areas (swim between the flags), surfing only or no swimming. These flags are often special colours such as red for danger.

  • Always look for signs or flags before you enter the water
  • Find out what they say or mean and follow the warnings they provide
  • Know what the flags colours / designs mean and respect their meaning before entering the water


Surf Patrol Flags and Sign, Muriwai Beach, Auckland

NZS 8690:2003 was introduced by Standards New Zealand to inform the public of dangers, safety concerns and other relevant information. Some of the frequently used signs are shown here.

For more information on water safety signage visit Standards New Zealand at

* International Open Water Drowning Prevention Guidelines