Drownings may be well down from the average so far this year, but more have also been preventable, the water safety watchdog says.
There have been 48 drownings in 2016 so far, down from the five-year average of 57 for the same period and well below last year's 65.
But Water Safety New Zealand says it's no cause for celebration, with the proportion of avoidable drownings now reaching nearly 80 percent.
Acting chief Mark Lindsay said that figure was worse than both last year and the average of the last five years.
"The number of preventable deaths are up even though overall deaths are down and this is hugely saddening. These are situations where, if water safety had been a priority, lives would have been saved," he said.
He said swimmers not understanding their limitations or the conditions was often the difference between life and death.
While boating deaths were down more than 70 percent for the half year, three children under five have drowned - up one from last year - and river drownings made up 21 of the year's water deaths.
Worst regions for drownings this year so far:
Source: Water Safety New Zealand