Don't try to be a hero, lifeguards tell Kiwi beachgoers

New Zealand lifeguards are warning beachgoers to go against their instinct and seek help before trying to save anyone struggling in the surf.

Fifteen percent of those who drown at New Zealand beaches are people trying to save someone else.

"Look, if you're a good swimmer, even at that particular point, we do advise not to go into those conditions if the person that you've gone into the water afterwards has got into trouble," said Mark Goodhew, Muriwai Surf Lifesaving's vice president.

"There's a very, very high risk you're going to get into trouble as well."

A man died at Hot Water Beach last weekend trying to save a child, and Water Safety says two of the 13 people who drowned in coastal areas last summer were trying to rescue others.

Over the years, in the majority of these cases, the person who was originally in trouble has survived.

Mr Goodhew said the first thing people should do is dial 111, before looking for a flotation device. A rescue attempt should only be undertaken if you have the ability and have assessed the conditions which can be easier said than done.

Surfer Taylor Wilson had to be rescued after going to the aid of a friend at Muriwai, and has a similar warning to beachgoers.

"Get someone else to help, get the professionals to help. Don't do it yourself because you can't do it," said Mr Wilson.

Lifeguards around the country had one of their busiest seasons last summer, with more than 700 rescues. That can be attributed to unusually high water temperatures, with it getting to 24 degrees at Muriwai beach.

This coming summer is also expected to be a scorcher.