With Easter marking the official end to the Surf Life Saving patrol season, provisional statistics show nationwide rescue numbers have increased by 48 percent on last season.
Surf lifeguards have spent over 200,000 hours patrolling around
80 beaches since Labour Weekend 2012, rescuing over 1,600 people,
which is well above last year's total of 1,088.
Surf Lifeguards have also performed 1,990 first aid treatments, a 30 percent increase on last year's figures, and undertaken 120,409 preventative actions which is a 41 percent increase.
The largest increase is in the number of searches. Lifeguards have taken part in 581 searches this season compared to 233 last season, which is a 149 percent increase.
Nationwide, the largest number of rescues took place at Muriwai on Auckland's West Coast where there was 105 rescues, followed by Raglan which saw 92 rescues. Whangamata (61), Taylors Mistake (58) and Piha (57) rounded out the top five.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says this season has been one of the busiest summers on record for a number of years as a result of what felt like an endless summer. "Naturally, in response to the warm weather, visitor numbers have increased which in turn increases the risk of people getting into trouble on our beaches," he says.
Mr Dalton says many of the rescues this season have taken place outside of patrol hours and outside of the flagged area. "We're also seeing consistencies in drowning incidents where people are wearing inappropriate clothing and are unaware of hazardous surf conditions and rips. As patrols have officially ended, we ask that people take responsibility for their own safety when around water," he says.
When swimming at an unpatrolled beach, Surf Life Saving New Zealand encourages beach goers to adhere to a few simple rules. Be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of the dangers and know your limits.
The Surf Life Saving season typically begins at Labour Weekend and runs through to Easter.
Taylors Mistake 58
Mt Maunganui 55
*Please note these numbers are provisional and are yet to be finalised