Surf lifesavers have had one of their busiest
seasons on record, thanks to the unusually warm and prolonged
Guards spent more than 200,000 hours on patrol
and saved hundreds of people from drowning.
It's a lesson we're taught from the moment
we're old enough to swim -- stay between the red and yellow
"During the peak season, our lifeguards were
flat-out rescuing people, keeping people between the flags," says
Surf Life Saving New Zealand manager Allan Mundy.
Julie Davis knows all too well what happens if
you don't follow those rules. In January she and her son were
caught in a rip at Waipu Cove.
"I turned behind me and looked out at the waves
and thought, 'No I'm not ready to go there yet,' but wondering how
much longer I was going to last. I was absolutely exhausted," she
Thanks to the quick thinking actions of the
guards on duty, Ms Davis and her son were pulled to safety.
"We've never been so happy to see that surf
boat come towards us," she says.
"It wasn't a good situation they were in and
potentially it could have gone for the worst," says surf lifesaver
And the things that make going to the beach so
pleasurable for most of us are also the things that make life tough
"It would be up there with one of the busiest
we've had in years. Two factors -- we've got such really good
weather and warm water, and the public are coming into the beaches
in droves," says Mr Mundy.
During the official surf lifesaving period,
guards performed more than 1500 rescues -- well up on last
"You could probably say, conservatively, a
third of those figures would have been fatalities if it
wasn't for those lifeguards," says Mr Mundy.
Outside of patrolled beaches though, 14 people
Surf Life Saving says people are making basic
"They're underestimating the rips, the size of
the surf, the currants, and they're just going straight out from
where they put their towel and before they know it they're in
trouble," says Mr Mundy.
The weather may still feel like summer in many
places, but after tomorrow beware patrol flags will be put away for