Raglan lifeguards 'disappointed' after two mass rescues, thousands flock to beaches

Lifeguards in Raglan say they are "disappointed" after they carried out two mass rescues amid a deadly weekend in New Zealand's waters.

There were 32 total rescues by lifeguards in the coastal Waikato town on Saturday. The mass rescues of 13 and 16 people were among this. On top of the rescues, there were 10 assists, which is helping people out of trouble but who don't require a full rescue.

David Galuszka, the director of lifesaving at Raglan Surf Lifesaving, said it was saddening this number of people needed rescuing, especially when there have been many drownings so far this summer.

"We tell people to swim between the flags and we had the danger signs out of where people shouldn't be swimming," he told Newshub. "That's definitely disappointing that we have had to do these rescues."

Galuszka estimates that at its peak, there were between 4500 to 5000 people on the beach on Saturday. He added that most people were aged between 16 and 21 years old, and as far as lifeguards could tell, beachgoers were largely coming from the Soundsplash festival.

The festival is held at Wainui Reserve Bush Park in Raglan and attracts thousands of people to the area.

This event meant beaches in the area were a lot busier than normal.

"The busiest weekends end up being the holiday weekends, but Soundsplash, with these thousands of kids who are camping on the reserve, is a different beast altogether when it comes to numbers," Galuszka said.

Lifeguards had planned for this event, he added, so there were 20 people on all over the age of 18 years old who have many years of experience lifeguarding.

"In terms of rescuing all the people, most of us have been in rescue situations before and know what to do but it was just a matter of picking people out of the water, putting them back on the beach, then doing the rounds again, going back out and getting more people and bringing them back to shore," Galuszka said.

His advice to people heading to the beach this summer is to swim between the flags and listen to the advice of lifeguards.

"We're there to help you have an enjoyable time at the beach," he said. "And always stay within your abilities and don't overestimate what you think you can do."

It comes amid a deadly 48 hours at beaches, particularly in the Auckland region. In the past two days, five people have drowned in water incidents. This includes two people at Piha Beach on Saturday evening, one person at a Takapuna address on Saturday morning, and one person each at Narrow Neck Beach and Big Manly Beach on the North Shore, both of which were on Friday afternoon.