The Summer of Watersports

Boating, Watersports and others

The Summer of Watersports

The arrival of summer is just around the corner, signalling the perfect opportunity to head to the lakes and harbours around the country. It is the season to experience the thrill of getting pulled around behind the boat and spending some quality time with friends, family and having an absolute blast!

New Zealand, with its incredible coastlines and stunning lakes and rivers, offers the perfect playground for these adrenaline pumping activities. In this post, we are diving headfirst into the world of water sports, focussing on wakeboarding, ski biscuiting, knee boarding, and water skiing.

But first, let's talk safety!

Safety on the Water:

Before we dive into the excitement, let us talk safety. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, keeping safety in mind is crucial. Here are some basic tips:

Buoyancy Vests: Always wear a buoyancy vest or life jacket while engaging in water sports. It is your best friend in an emergency, remember, buoyancy vests are better to use in watersports scenarios than traditional life jackets. Buoyancy vests primarily offer buoyancy support, helping individuals stay afloat by providing extra lift in the water. They are more comfortable to wear and offer better freedom of movement.

Life jackets, on the other hand, are designed with a higher level of buoyancy and additional safety features such as neck support. They are specifically crafted to turn an unconscious wearer face up in the water, providing crucial head support and ensuring maximum safety in emergency situations. However, that neck support can be detrimental if falling off a ski biscuit or water skis at speed.

If you need some new buoyancy vests, swing into your local Burnsco store or check them out online. We have a significant number of vests in a range of styles and prices available in mens, womens and child sizes, that are specific to water sport activities. Check out more about finding the right life jacket for you here: How to Choose a Lifejacket

Have a spotter: New Zealand regulations state that if you are towing you MUST have a spotter, this cannot be the skipper (they need to focus on driving). This means that you need a minimum of 3 people while water skiing, wake boarding or ski biscuiting.

Know Your Equipment: Familiarise yourself with your equipment and its proper usage. Always have the kill switch lanyard attached to the skipper.

Communication: Establish clear hand signals or communication with the skipper to ensure everyone's safety. Always have 2 ways to call for help e.g., VHF radio, distress beacons (EPIRB or PLB), cell phone in a waterproof bag or flares.

Keep Your Distance: Make sure you maintain a safe distance from other boats, swimmers, and obstacles. This ensures everyone gets home at the end of the day and ensures no accidents occur.


Local Regulations: In New Zealand, follow the "5 knot rule" when within 200 metres of the shore or near a dive boat and withing 50m of swimmers and other vessels. This helps prevent accidents and collisions in recreational areas. Some parts of New Zealand have designated ski zones which are purely for the use of water sport activities.


First up on the list of water sports is wakeboarding, a thrilling sport that combines elements of surfing and snowboarding. Here's how it works: you hop on this slick board with bindings for your feet, grab hold of the tow rope and the boat pulls you behind it, you then use boat's wake as your playground. You get to carve up the water, catch some air, and when you are skilled enough, you get to bust out some tricks – it's all about that adrenaline rush and having a blast on the water!

Whether you're learning to stay upright or perfecting your 360s, it's all about the good times and making unforgettable memories on the water.

But don’t forget about the ropes and handles, these are essential and specific for wakeboarding. Engineered with sturdy but light materials and comfortable grips, the handles are wider and longer than water ski and kneeboard handles allowing you to switch hands easier while performing tricks.

Wipeout have a range of wakeboards and tow ropes which offer fantastic value. There are boards available for all skill levels, some features include lace up multi fit bindings, removeable centre fins, step down rails and flow channels through the base maximising stability.

Ski Biscuiting:

Let us dive into the world of ski biscuiting! A favourite past time of so many kids growing up in New Zealand. I am sure many of us have fond memories of Uncle John ripping us around sideways on the helm trying to throw us off the biscuit while we hold on for dear life! It is a fantastic way to spend a summers afternoon with friends and family, a picnic on the lake and hours of fun in and on top (well try to be) of the water.

There are several variations of ski biscuits to choose from:

Classic Donut Tube: The classic round tube offers a wild and bumpy ride, perfect for thrill seekers looking for that extra excitement, generally suited for 1 rider.

Sit-In Tubes: These tubes feature a seat and having you physically sitting in them with the tube surrounding you. It is a much more comfortable ride while being pulled across the water, providing a slightly tamer experience. Perfect for adults with small children.

Lie-on multi rider: The ultimate in adrenaline, jump on with one or 2 of your mates or family and hang on! These also come in a winged version to make it easier and quicker to swing across the boats wake as the skipper makes tight turns. Generally suited for 2 or 3 riders.

While you are choosing your favourite ski biscuit, make sure to grab a suitable tow rope. These specially designed tow ropes have a spliced loop at each end, are designed to float, and have a very high breaking strain. They are available in 1-2 person (the smaller biscuits) or 2-3 person (the larger biscuits). Burnsco offer a significant range of ski biscuits from renowned brands such as Wipeout, Test Pilot and Jobe. Whether you’re after a single, double or multi rider biscuit we have one to suit you. Swing on down to one of the 17 stores across NZ or jump online to check out the fantastic range that is available. No matter which style you choose, ski biscuiting is countless hours of fun and with the multitude of water spots around New Zealand, you are never too far from enjoying a day out on the lake or harbour.



Kneeboarding is a fantastic water sport for beginners and experienced riders alike. You kneel on a specially designed board while holding onto a tow rope. It offers a lower centre of gravity and greater stability compared to standing on a wakeboard or skis. This makes it perfect for practicing spins, jumps, and other tricks without the fear of wiping out too badly. Burnsco also offer kneeboards suitable for beginners, they feature a hook on the front of a kneeboard, this offers a secure point to attach the tow rope and maintain better balance while getting up. This allows novice riders to focus on building their skills and confidence without worrying about rope management, making it an excellent choice for those new to kneeboarding.


Water Skiing:

Finally, we have water skiing, a classic water sport loved by many. With a ski on each foot, you glide across the water's surface while being towed by a boat. The thrill of cutting through the waves and the challenge of maintaining your balance make water skiing an exhilarating experience.

Burnsco have a great range of Wipeout water skis available for both adults and children. Whether you are learning and require some training skis with a stabiliser bar or whether you are pro and want to be able to drop off a ski and go single we have something in store for you.


Don’t forget the accessories! They can either make or break your day, and when you have them, they will make your time on the water even more epic.

Firstly, pumps! Pretty simple really, if your biscuit goes down, how will you pump it up? Make sure you have either a foot pump or a 12V pump handy for those occasions.

Secondly, mirrors. Save your neck and keep your eyes forward! Ski mirrors work exactly like a rear view mirror in a car, enabling you to look forward while glancing up to keep an eye on what’s happening behind you as well. Some feature a 180 convex lens eliminating blind spots.

Ski poles – if water sports if going to become your thing, we recommend getting a ski pole fitted to your boat. This guarantees a proper fixed attachment point for tubes, skis, wakeboards, and kneeboards. It also keeps the tow rope high above the motor so no rubbing can occur. However, if you don’t have a ski pole on your boat, don’t worry! Grab an outboard bridle to make sure everything stays smooth and safe, these attach to the back corners of the boat and go around the motor. The pulley then keeps the rope tight and away from the engine.

When you are out there having a blast, things can get a little wild. That is why it is smart to have a ski biscuit repair kit and a spare valve on hand. Inflatables can take a beating, but with these tools, you will be ready to patch up any surprises and keep the good times rolling.

  1. Foot Pump
  2. 12V Air Pump
  3. Ski Mirror

So, there you have it - a roundup of some of the most exciting water sports you can enjoy in New Zealand this summer. Whether you are into wakeboarding, ski biscuiting, knee boarding, or water skiing, the options are endless for making unforgettable memories on the water.

Remember, safety always comes first. Familiarise yourself with local regulations, always have a spotter, wear a Buoyancy Vest, and communicate effectively with your skipper. Now, grab your gear, hit the water, and soak up the sun as you embark on an adrenaline filled summer in beautiful New Zealand!

Do you have any questions?

Please, contact our friendly team on 0800 102041 or email: website@burnsco.co.nz

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We provide general information on products, not personal advice.  Always seek the help of a relevant tradesperson if you have a technical query.