Riding waves at Raglan
Foreign summer-hopping lifeguards are lending a hand at Raglan’s beaches over the surfing season.
Eight surf-loving lifesavers from the UK and US can be found trawling Ngarunui beach.
The small town is renowned as ‘‘the Mecca for surfing’’, Dan Miller, a lifeguard from the UK said. But it can also be dangerous. ‘‘There’s a lot of areas where you can get in a lot of trouble,’’ Scott Wojtcza, a professional lifeguard from San Diego said.
On a clear, balmy day, you can see the dark patches, where rip currents lurk near the shore.
Last year, 21 people drowned at New Zealand beaches – the highest toll since 2011.
Every year, lifeguards flock to New Zealand beaches for the surfing season – from October to March – with some landing paid jobs for busier months.
The volunteers – mostly from professional backgrounds – patrol the beaches during weekends.
‘‘The way they lifeguard [here] is definitely different,’’ Wojtcza said.
‘‘There are no volunteer lifeguards in San Diego.
‘‘It’s a full time job, for seven months of the year,’’ Wojtcza said.
‘‘We’re peace officers so we actually can write tickets and arrest people.’’
Lifeguards even carry pepper spray and handcuffs.
But while lifeguarding differs across the world, the respect for the water is the same, Wojtcza said.
Jess Gates, from Wales said this was an opportunity for them to understand how lifeguards operated in different parts of the world.
‘‘It’s really cool, we’ve been able to come over here.
‘‘A lot of what we do is very similar. It’s all about keeping people safe.
‘‘I’m in no hurry to move on,’’ Gates said.
Visiting lifeguards Jess Gates from Wales and Scott Wojtcza from San Diego have joined the Raglan Surf Life Saving Club for the surfing season.