Swimmers caught out by rips at northern beaches

Friday, 26 November 2021

Original Story by RNZ

8:15 am on 21 November 2021 

Swimmers caught out by rips at northern beaches

Two mass rescues, each of more than a dozen people caught in rips, have taken place at northern beaches on their first hot Saturday of the season.

Surf Life Saving's Northern Region, which covers Auckland, Northland, and Raglan, said 46 people were rescued across its beaches.

One of the mass rescues was at Auckland's Muriwai, and involved 13 people being brought back to shore.

They got into strife when a couple of rips suddenly opened up while several hundred swimmers were in the water.

Surf Life Saving Northern said the second mass rescue, at Raglan in Waikato, saved 14 people.

Two lifeguards used an inflatable boat to pull people from the rip and deposit them safely on shore, and returned several times to retrieve more.

Surf Life Saving Northern operations manager James Lea said people were caught out by rips in outgoing tides.

"The lifeguards were working really hard yesterday afternoon just to be as proactive and as preventative as possible but sometimes when these sudden shifts move with the water people do get into trouble quickly."

Lea is expecting beaches will be packed again today.

He said the beaches are much busier, earlier in the summer, this year, as the water warms up and Covid-19 restrictions ease.

At its peak there were 2200 people at Muriwai, yesterday.

Meanwhile, Hamilton police are urging the public to use common sense if they are heading into the water this weekend, after being called to multiple rescues in the Waikato River in recent days.

Hamilton City Area Commander Inspector Andrea McBeth said while the river may be a tempting spot for a quick swim, it has fast flowing and changeable currents, with whirlpools in some parts.

Inspector McBeth said to ensure safety, it's important to be prepared - know the water and weather conditions before you get in, and always swim with others.