Surf Lifeguards have the local coastline well covered during the week as they prepare for what is expected to be another busy spell over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
The weekday Regional Lifeguard Service began last Monday (December 14) at Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Omanu and Papamoa.
A fourth patrol, operating at the popular Tay St location, will begin on Christmas Day.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand announced last season that it would extend patrols to cover Tay St from December 27 to January 11.
This year, the service will continue and has not only been extended for an extra week, operating from December 25-January 15, but the location is also getting an IRB and a patrol tower that will be on site for four weeks.
Surf Life Saving Eastern Region Lifesaving Manager Leigh Sefton says the extended service is thanks to the support of the Tauranga City Council.
"They have been very supportive of this rationalisation of services which is great news for the local community. Tay St has been an area of concern for quite some time with rescues occurring regularly over the last five to six years, especially during the Christmas and New Year period, he says.
"One of the key risks is the coinciding fine weather with that peak period when people are on holiday, often in unfamiliar locations. The Tay St patrol location was well received last season and the flagged swimming area without a doubt prevented fatalities, so this really is a need versus a want for the area."
Mr Sefton says along with the weekday patrols, volunteer lifeguards have been in full swing, protecting Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Omanu beaches every weekend since late October.
"Being able to cover patrols at some of the Bay's busiest locations seven days a week during the core Summer period is vital as we aim to provide a seamless service to the public," he says.
Unfortunately, a large number of beachgoers put themselves in unnecessary danger every year with a large number of rescues taking place outside of the traditional flagged patrol area and outside of standard patrol hours.
Mr Sefton urges people to swim at a patrolled beach and between the flags wherever possible.
"If you are prepared, watch out for yourself and others, are aware of the dangers and know your limits, you'll be well on your way to making sure you enjoy the beach safely this summer," he says.
Regional Lifeguard Patrols:
Mt Maunganui: Monday December 14, 2015- Friday February 5, 2016:
Tay Street: Friday December 25, 201- January 5, 2016: 10:30am - 5:30pm
Omanu Beach: Monday December 14, 2015 to Friday February 5, 2016: 10- 6pm
Papamoa Beach: Monday December 14, 2015 to Friday February 5, 2016: 10am- 6pm
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist,
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823