The number of drownings in 2017 was up on the previous year and the number of women drowning has doubled.
Figures reveal there were 86 preventable drownings in 2017, which is 10 more than the previous year.
The increase is being blamed in part on the early onset of summer.
Water Safety New Zealand says Māori are still over-represented, and men are the biggest group.
Jonty Mills, Water Safety NZ CEO, said: "About 85% of all preventable drownings are male, and it really is that kind of Kiwi 'she'll be right' attitude. We tend to overestimate our abilities and underestimate the risks."
However the female drowning toll more than doubled last year.
"It's a reflection of more participation by females across a really broad range of activities," says Mr Mills.
Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand, behind the road toll.
Mills wants more education around water safety skills to try and bring down the drowning toll.