With a large majority of the weekday patrols wrapping up around the country, Surf Life Saving New Zealand is urging beach-goers to take responsibility for their own safety.
The Regional Lifeguard Service (RLS) is a partnership programme delivered by Surf Life Saving and territorial local authorities in an attempt to protect beach-goers during the busy summer months and to supplement the volunteer weekend patrols.
National lifesaving manager Allan Mundy says that means paid lifeguards won't be out on patrol on most beaches from Monday to Friday.
Weekday patrols will continue for another couple of weeks in some of the more populated beaches in the Northern Region such as Auckland's West Coast.
Mr Mundy says the summer holidays are over for most adults and kids are starting to head back to school but there will still be people out and about on the beaches during the week.
"It's important that they have their senses switched on and exercise some caution when heading out into the water. People need to take care and understand what risks they may be putting themselves into and take practical steps to avoid them. That means not swimming or surfing along, stopping to assess the conditions and potential dangers and not overestimating your ability," he says.
The Surf Life Saving season officially ends at Easter and volunteer lifeguards will continue to patrol around 80 locations nationwide on the weekends in the Northern Region and parts of the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel until then.
Clubs in the South Island and parts of the lower North will begin to wind up their patrols in March.
Lifeguards will also continue to be part of callout squads and search and rescue squads in many areas. In the event of a surf emergency, please dial 111.
For more information and safety tips, visit www.surflifesaving.org.nz
Key beach safety messages:
• Always keep a very close eye on children in or near the
• Get a friend to swim with you - never swim or surf alone.
• Watch out for that rip - rips are calm, deep patches of water close to shore that can sometimes have waves breaking to the side. Rippled, discoloured or foamy water with debris can also mean there is a rip present.
• Don't overestimate you or your children's ability to cope in the conditions. Even waist deep water can be life threatening if you step in a hole or get hit by a large wave. Preferably be in the water within arm's length of them at all times on a surf beach.
• If you're away from home, check with the locals and ask them about the conditions and the safest place to swim. Or go on line and find the closet patrolled beach at findabeach.co.nz
• If in doubt, stay out!
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist,
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823