Waitangi weekend: Surf Lifesaving NZ warns swimmers to take responsibility, not all beaches actively patrolled

Surf Lifesaving rescue boats.
Surf Lifesaving rescue boats. Photo credit: File

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand is warning swimmers to take responsibility and keep themselves safe as not all beaches are patrolled.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand head Paul Dalton, who is also a surf lifeguard at Titahi Bay, said they are trained to rescue people - but would prefer it if people did not need to be rescued in the first place.

"There are some key things that all of us should keep in mind when we visit the beach, even if it's your favourite local spot," he said.

"Not all beaches are actively patrolled by surf lifeguards - and coastal conditions are constantly in flux. We're looking forward to a warm, sunny long weekend across most of the country and, as surf lifeguards, we want everyone to leave the beach with nothing but happy memories."

Surf lifeguards will be out in force at about 80 popular beaches nationwide this week.

Dalton recommends that anyone planning to hit the beach this Waitangi weekend takes a moment to familiarise themselves with Surf Lifesaving New Zealand's 10 beach basics:

  • Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
  • If you get caught in a rip current, remember the 3Rs: RELAX and float; RAISE your hand to signal for help; RIDE the rip until it stops and you can swim back to shore or help arrives
  • Talk to the surf lifeguards: Ask a lifeguard for advice, as beach conditions change
  • Always keep a very close eye on young children in or near the water. Keep children within arm's reach at all times
  • Know your limits: Don't overestimate your ability in the water or your children's ability to cope in the conditions
  • Get a friend to swim with you: Never swim or surf alone and if in doubt, stay out of the water
  • When fishing from rocks, never turn your back to the sea and always wear a lifejacket
  • If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for the Police. They have a direct line to surf lifeguards
  • Be sun smart: Slip, slop, slap and wrap, and protect your skin and eyes from the sun's damaging rays.