New Zealand has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. This life-threatening cancer is most often caused by exposure to the sun, and a history of sunburn in childhood can lead to melanoma later in life.

Melanoma is almost always preventable

Melanoma is almost always preventable, and it is essential for New Zealanders to develop good sun smart habits from an early age. As you get older, the build-up of UV exposure over your lifetime leads to damaged skin and an increased likelihood of melanoma.

Here are some ways to make good choices about sun awareness and UV protection.


Cover up with long-sleeved shirts with collars, as well as long pants, skirts or lavalava. You can look out for clothing that uses UV protective fabrics, known as Ultra Violet Protection Factor or UPF.


Slop on some broad-spectrum sunscreen, that is at least SPF 30 which protects against both UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant. Remember to apply 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours with a two coat approach.

Check our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more detailed information on sunscreen.
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Slap on a broad-brimmed hat with at least a 7.5cm brim. Did you know caps do not protect the neck, ears, or side of the face?


Seek shade, particularly from September to April, and especially between 10am and 4pm. Schedule outdoor activities for times of the day with the least UV radiation. Use an umbrella or a portable shade.


Slide on some close-fitting sunglasses that don’t let the sun rays into the side of your frames. Polarised glasses help, particularly with UV reflection from concrete, water and snow.

When to protect your skin:

  • When the ultraviolet index (UVI) is 3 or above
  • From September to April, especially between 10am and 4pm
  • At the beach, as reflections from water and sand can increase UV
  • At high altitudes, especially near snow, which strongly reflects UV
Blonde woman smiling

It is fair to say my relationship with the sun has changed dramatically since that day – sunscreen, shade, sunglasses and good old common sense in the sun has replaced sunbathing and sunbeds.

Adine Wilson said after finding out she had been diagnosed with melanoma.