New Zealand’s Largest Junior Lifesaving Festival Gets Underway With Some Unexpected Twists

Thursday, 22 February 2024

The first day of racing at the country’s largest junior lifesaving carnival on Mount Maunganui Beach was filled with excitement and a few unexpected twists courtesy of the weather. 


Oceans: Festival of Junior Lifesaving provides junior members of Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) with the opportunity to compete in a fun and safe beach and surf environment. 


Today, challenging surf conditions, due to onshore winds, prompted event organisers to relocate the racing arenas from Mount Maunganui Beach to Tay Street Beach.


Matt Cairns, SLSNZ National Events Manager, said, “Tauranga is lucky to have a number of beautiful beaches in close proximity.  This makes it the ideal place to hold an event like Oceans: Festival of Junior Lifesaving as it gives us options, and Tauranga City Council is incredibly accommodating.  So, while the morning presented some weather-related challenges, we had a contingency plan in place, with the safety of participants our number one priority.”


Taking place from 22 – 25 February, this year over 700 junior members from 44 Surf Life Saving clubs will be taking part.


Cairns said, “Seeing them all here this morning was fantastic!  A lot of work goes into these events so seeing the kids with big smiles on their faces was incredible.”  


Categorised into U11, U12, U13, and U14 age groups, the festival includes a range of events, including Sprint Race, Surf Race, Board Race, and Run-Swim-Run.  However, it’s not just about competition. 


Cairns said, “We know it requires a lot of effort from Surf Life Saving club’s to just be here, with some travelling from as far south as Dunedin.  Getting to the start line is a remarkable achievement, so we aim to ensure that every junior participant is celebrated, and they make the most out of this experience, whether it’s creating new connections with fellow members or developing news skills.”


For those following the events, the Waves Results App provides real-time updates.  Event merchandise is also available for purchase through NZ Uniforms


SLSNZ would like to thank the following event partners who make Oceans: Festival of Junior Lifesaving possible: Tauranga City Council, Tauranga Western Bay Community Event Fund, Race One, Sonic Surf Craft, Just Sheds, NES Hire, PTS Logistics, Brandt, and McLeod Cranes, Hiab and Transport Services.