A man and woman who drowned at an Auckland beach this afternoon were fishing from slippery rocks when they fell.
Emergency services were called to West Auckland's Muriwai beach at 2pm and both people were pulled from the surf.
One person died at the beach and another, who was taken to hospital in a critical condition, died shortly after.
Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service chairperson Tim Jago said the rocks where the pair were fishing were treacherous.
The sea was rough and cold, he said.
"They were fishing off an area called Flat Rock, which is what the locals call 'the cave'.
"It's not a great place to swim or to fish. The rocks are covered in algae and incredibly treacherous."
Witnesses saw one fisher slip and the other try to rescue them by extended their fishing rod, he said.
That person also then slipped into the water.
"It's one of those all too common situations where the bystander, doing a bystander rescue, ends up drowning as well," Mr Jago said.
Muriwai beach is known for its strong rips and large swells.
He said today's surf conditions were "really challenging".
"The surf is really boisterous, it's coming in all directions.
"Where the second body was recovered from we call the 'drop zone' - literally where the surf was breaking on the bar, so it was a very difficult recovery.
"The water is damn cold, our lifeguards didn't enjoy being out there at all."
Mr Jago said the beaches were very well signed warning people of the surf conditions, the rocks and currents.
"[They were wearing] heavy clothing, no life-jackets - it was never going to end well once they were in the water."
The Auckland City website listed Muriwai and Māori Bay as having dangerous surf and warned swimmers to stay out of the water if there were no lifeguards on duty.