Rescue and mountain safety organisations have criticised people's lack of preparedness when enjoying the great outdoors.
The Rescue Co-ordination Centre estimates that of the half-million recreational craft in New Zealand waters, less than 10% are carrying distress beacons.
On Friday, it took 16 hours to rescue two of three men who survived the capsize of their runabout off Wellington's south coast. The third man managed to swim to shore and all had to be hospitalised.
The centre says there was no form of communication on the four-metre boat and if they'd had a distress beacon, the men would have been rescued within an hour of the vessel capsizing on Thursday night.
The centre's general manager of safety services, Nigel Clifford, says surveys of retailers show about 30,000 beacons are in circulation, accounting for less than 10% of estimated 500,000 recreational craft in New Zealand waters.
Meanwhile, the Mountain Safety Council says it is hard to fathom why people who take their cellphones for just a night on the town go into the bush with no form of communication.
On Friday, three lightly-clad runners lost in Bay of Plenty bush were rescued after a cold night spent with no water, maps, GPS, compass or cellphone.
The council's Chris Tews says even on a day walk if something goes wrong, other people need to know.
Mr Tews says searches cost taxpayers $2 million in the 2008-09 year.