Surf Lifeguards “Bracing Themselves” for Busiest Summer on Record

Friday, 23 October 2020

Press Release: Oct 22, 2020

Surf Lifeguards around the country are bracing themselves for what could be the busiest lifesaving season on record as New Zealanders face a summer without the option of overseas holidays.

Covid-19 travel restrictions mean many Kiwis will be planning “staycations” this summer and SLSNZ volunteer Surf Lifeguards are encouraging beachgoers to familiarise themselves with key safety messages.

SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton, says the charity’s volunteer Surf Lifeguards are passionate, highly-skilled individuals who pride themselves on keeping people safe at the beach. However, he cautions that it’s not possible for Surf Lifeguards to be everywhere at once.

“Our Surf Lifeguards do an extraordinary job – they conduct hundreds of rescues and perform thousands of preventative actions on our beaches every year,” he says.

“However, we’re anticipating this summer to be incredibly busy. Tragically, we have already seen two fatalities in the last fortnight alone as people get out and enjoy the coastal environment. We’re asking New Zealanders to do their part by choosing to go to lifeguarded beaches, and always swim between the red and yellow flags.”

Dalton says several recent incidents have involved people climbing on – or fishing from – rocks and that it’s important for people to exercise caution, even if they’re just exploring the coastline. Anyone fishing from the rocks should wear a lifejacket.

“If you see someone in trouble in the water, remember to call 111 and ask for the police,” he says. The police have a direct line to Surf Lifesaving.”

Surf Lifeguards patrol over 90 locations throughout Aotearoa at the peak of summer. This long weekend marks the official start of Patrol Season for many sites, including popular beaches in Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel and the Bay of Plenty. Additional patrols will roll out later in the season as warmer weather sets in.

Temperatures in parts of the South Island are expected to reach 30 degrees this weekend. This, combined with forecasted North-westerly winds along the east coast, mean there could be an increased chance of rips. South Island patrols don’t start rolling out until later in the month and beachgoers are advised to be extra cautious this Labour weekend.

Dalton says one of the best ways that beachgoers can support Surf Lifeguards over the busy summer season is by familiarising themselves with the key safety messages outlined below.

“Our volunteer Surf Lifeguards play a vital role in the communities they serve. We want everyone who visits the beach this summer to make it home to their loved ones at the end of the day.”

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe at the beach by remembering these Beach Basics:

  1. Choose a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red & yellow flags.

  2. If caught in a rip, remember the 3Rs Rip Survival Plan: RELAX & float to conserve energy, RAISE your hand to signal for help & RIDE the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore or help arrives.

  3. Look for, read and understand the safety signs – ask a surf lifeguard for advice as beach conditions change.

  4. Always keep a very close eye on young children in or near the water. Keep children within arm’s reach at all times.

  5. Know your limits. Don’t overestimate your ability in the water or your children’s ability to cope in the conditions.

  6. Never swim, fish or surf alone.

  7. If in doubt, stay out of the water!

  8. When fishing from rocks, always wear a lifejacket & shoes with grip & don’t turn your back to the sea.

  9. If you see someone in trouble, call 111 & ask for the Police as they have a direct line to us.

  10. Be sun smart. Slip, slop, slap & wrap. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.



SLSNZ is the national association representing 74 surf lifesaving clubs with 18,000+ members, including more than 4,500 volunteer Surf Lifeguards. Our lifeguards patrol over 90 locations each summer and provide emergency call-out rescue services throughout Aotearoa, saving hundreds of lives each year and ensuring thousands return home safe after a day at the beach.

We do all this as a charity and rely on the generosity of the public, commercial partners, foundations and trusts for donations and financial contributions in order to lead and support our incredible front-line volunteer lifeguarding services.

For more information contact:

Mackenzie Koppel
Surf Life Saving New Zealand
Media & Communications Manager
021 757 433