Tauranga's three main swimming spots have been named in the country's top 10 busiest beaches for rescues.
The Bay of Plenty Times reported earlier in the month that during the official lifeguard season, 212 people were rescued from the surf on the seven patrolled beaches between Waihi Beach and Pukehina.
Figures released yesterday, show Mount Maunganui was ranked the sixth busiest beach nationally with 55 rescues, Omanu in seventh with 52 rescues and Papamoa in ninth with 46. Whangamata also featured in the list, ranking third overall with 61 rescues.
Nationally there were more than 1600 people pulled from the surf, more than 500 people above last year's total of 1088.
Most took place in the northern region where there were 619 rescues compared to 478 in the previous season, which begins on Labour Day weekend and ends at Easter.
The most dramatic were the rescue of 28 people in two events. Ten Korean fishermen were plucked from a rock at Port Waikato last month and 18 schoolchildren were caught in a rip at Dunedin in February.
The busiest beach was Muriwai, also the site of a fatal shark attack, but Volunteer Lifeguard Service chairman Tim Jago said he was not surprised by its 105 rescues for the year.
There were 12 drownings at beaches, double the number from the previous year, Water Safety New Zealand said.
Surf Life Saving spokeswoman Lisa Honeybone said it was believed only one person drowned at a beach during lifeguard hours. A 43-year-old man could not be revived after being pulled from the surf about 600m from the flagged area of Whiritoa Beach on the Coromandel on Christmas Eve.
Volunteer lifesavers spent more than 200,000 hours patrolling about 80 beaches, undertook more than 1980 first aid treatments, conducted 580 searches and took more than 120,000 preventative actions.
Surf Life Saving northern region chief executive Pam Elgar said many people rescued from the surf had ignored safety messages.
Top 10 nationwide rescue statistics
1. Muriwai - 105
2. Raglan - 92
3. Whangamata - 61
4. Taylors Mistake (Christchurch) - 58
5. Piha - 57
6. Mount Maunganui - 55
7. Omanu - 52
8. Karioatahi - 46
9. Papamoa - 46
10. Opunake - 46