22 Mar 2013

Drowning kills a dozen beachgoers this summer

4:29 pm on 22 March 2013

The number of drownings at New Zealand beaches has doubled this summer.

Thirty-one people drowned over the official summer period from 1 December 2012 to 28 February 2013.

Twelve of those deaths were at beaches - double last year's toll there.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge says while the increase may be a result of this season's fine weather, it also shows that people are not following basic safety issues.

"Typically, it's people choosing to swim in an area or part of the beach that just isn't safe - either in or too close to a rip.

"A basic ability to identify where a good swimming spot is, is just not being adhered to; neither is (the need for) people understanding what their limits are, which of course is how people get into difficulty."

Mr Claridge says swimming-related drownings have been on the rise in recent years and highlights the importance of learning to swim.