20 Apr 2019

Lifeguards prepare for long, busy Easter weekend

9:31 pm on 20 April 2019

Lifeguards will patrol 15 major beaches in the northern region over Easter, before taking down the flags for the last time this season on Monday, 22 April.

Lifeguards rush out to the sea

The patrols will operate from 11am till 5pm with extended hours at some clubs. Photo: RNZ/ Kim Baker Wilson

Surf Life Saving Northern Region duty officer Ben Julian said so far this season lifeguards had rescued 256 people from life-threatening situations and helped another 487 people to safety.

He said people wanting to swim this weekend should visit a patrolled beach and swim between the flags.

"Mother Nature looks like she's going to be really kind to us over the weekend, and especially at the northern beaches, they're not the west coast and may not look super dangerous but they often can be unpredictable so don't overestimate your ability," Mr Julian said.

"If you're heading away with your children make sure they're within arm's reach. We just encourage people to never swim or surf alone, it's much more fun with your friends anyway. And if you do see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for police."

Surf Life Saving Northern Region operations manager Alan Gibson said the lower water temperatures reduce the number of swimmers at the beaches but also raise the risk for those entering the water.

"There's a higher risk of hypothermia if you don't have a wetsuit, so you need to be careful how long you do spend in the water," Mr Gibson said.

"But our focus will also be on those doing other recreational pursuits on the coasts, such as rock and crab fishing, climbing around the rocks and boating. Much of our serious rescue and callout activity this season has related to those sorts of activities as opposed to swimmers in the water."

The beaches where patrols will operate over Easter are: Whangārei Heads, Ruakaka, Waipū Cove, Mangawhai Heads, Omaha, Orewa, Mairangi Bay, Muriwai, Bethell's Beach, North Piha, South Piha, Karekare, Kariaotahi, Sunset Beach and Raglan.

The patrols will generally operate from 11am till 5pm, with extended hours at some of the clubs.

Mr Gibson said while volunteer patrols finish after Easter, Surf Life Saving maintains an on-call team year-round.

"On-water activity doesn't cease just because the sea is cooler and the weather may be bad; there is still a lot of activity on the coasts with the risk of a tragedy occurring. Our job never really stops."

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