Surf Life Saving warning after beach deaths, rescues
Two deaths and several close calls on Auckland’s notorious west coast beaches this week have resulted in lifeguards issuing a stern warning to the public.
“Unless you’re confident – avoid going in or near the water,” Surf Life Saving northern region chief executive Matt Williams said.
A woman and a fisherman died in separate incidents at Whites Beach, north of Piha, and Bethells Beach respectively at the start of the week.
Yesterday, a mother and two teenagers were rescued after getting into trouble at O’Neills Bay near Bethells Beach just before 1pm.
The mother was flown to Auckland Hospital in a serious condition, while the teenagers were taken by ambulance in a moderate condition.
On Thursday, Piha lifeguards had to rescue four people in trouble at what i s known as the Keyhole – a natural rock formation.
Meanwhile, Muriwai Beach lifeguards were needed at the nearby gannet colony after a surfer was swept there from nearby Ma ¯ ori Bay.
Williams said it had been the busiest winter in recent memory.
“We’ve had 33 emergency callouts for our emergency squads since the start of May.
“When you consider that in the whole of last year . . . we had just 31, that’s a massive increase in our workload.”
He said the spike in the number of people heading to the beach could be put down to a new- found appreciation for the water after the Covid- 19 lockdowns, the sunny weather and the school holidays.
“We’ve seen this wish to get back to the coast manifest in people not taking the right precautions.
“The past week has shown just how many ways there are to get in trouble on the coast.”