The woman who drowned at Mount Maunganui has been named as 54-year-old Vivian Fosse Telfar, a New Zealander living in Norway.
Senior Sergeant Glen Saunders said she was swimming at the beach with a group of family and friends when she got into difficulty.
"She was found unresponsive face down in the water about 20metres off shore a short time later by a surfer who took her to shore. Efforts to revive her failed."
The matter has been referred to the coroner who will determine the cause of death.
Mount Maunganui lifeguards are urging the public to take extra care in the ocean after a woman drowned last night.
A woman was pulled from the water at around 6pm from the stretch of coast towards Sutherland Ave. Ambulance and police officers were first on the scene and despite their best efforts, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Off-duty lifeguards Callum Knox and Andrew Roy, on their way to provide assistance several minutes later, then pulled a 16-year-old Hamilton teenager from the water from the far end of Mount Maunganui's Main Beach.
It followed a busy day on the beach, with voluntary lifeguards performing a number of preventative actions and attending an incident on the flanks of Mauao, where a 63-year-old woman was lifted off by helicopter and taken to hospital.
"Last night's death was a tragic reminder of the need to treat the ocean with the utmost respect," Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service chairman Paul Treanor said. "We'd strongly encourage swimmers to stay within their limits and to take extra care when swimming on unpatrolled beaches, especially at the end of the day when they might be tired."
The 16-year-old Hamilton boy was caught in a rip while swimming. His uncle waved Roy and Knox down as they drove past on a quad bike, with Roy swimming out and helping him back in to shore.
"There was a lot of water moving out there - it only took about 30secs to swim a couple of hundred metres out to him but it took us a good few minutes to get back in," Roy said. "He was certainly pretty grateful we were able to help him out."
Regional lifeguards are patrolling Bay of Plenty beaches for one more week, ending on February 8.