Lifeguards are puzzled why so many holidaymakers thronging Mount Main Beach are not taking advantage of perfect swimming conditions.

Patrol captain Sam Roy said the beach had been really busy since Christmas but far fewer people than normal were going in for a dip.

"It is a bit confusing because the water was much warmer than last year."

There were a couple of hundred people in the water at any one time which was not the numbers lifeguards were used to seeing.

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"I have no idea why...it has been a bit easier for us."

Waves running at less than half a metre in height have created conditions which Papamoa Surf Club head guard Shaun Smith compared to a lake.

It resulted in Western Bay's surf clubs all enjoying a quiet start to the holiday period.
Main Beach was so safe that they were not actively needing to push people into the flagged area.

Mount Maunganui Surf Club general manager Glenn Bradley said the club had a busy start to December prior to the arrival of paid lifeguards when there was a surf running, warm water and fine weather.

The arrival of the holidays had coincided with really flat surf and benign conditions, he said.

However, Western Bay's surf clubs were bracing themselves for a forecasted change in surf conditions towards the end of this week.

Bradley said people would need to adjust their behaviour by swimming between the flags, not over-estimating their ability and remembering the old maxim: If in doubt, stay out.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand's national life saving manager Allan Mundy said rips were still working and there had been a few low-level rescues like people getting out of their depth, but nothing serious.

The swell currently pounding the west coast of New Zealand would not find its way into the Bay, he said.

Omanu volunteer lifeguard Donal Boyle said swimmers had been well behaved. The conditions and low wave height meant people were able to keep their balance and recover if they stepped into holes.

Papamoa's Shaun Smith said they have had a few little boogie board rescues, but with a lot of holes along the beach, it would be ''all hands on deck'' if the forecasted bigger surf arrived on Friday.

"That will change the beach completely."


With waves currently running at less than half a metre, he said the sea was more like a lake.

Maketu's senior guard Blake Dawson estimated the beach was attracting twice as many people as last summer, with Maketu a more popular holiday spot for families. Happily, there had been no rescues.

"We put it down to good lifeguarding, making sure beachgoers were well informed and good placement of flags."

The only drama at Pukehina had been a person falling off their stand-up paddleboard and hurting themselves. Luckily a passing patrol helped out.

Pukehina Surf Rescue's lifeguard co-ordinator Boyd Harris said things had been going quite nicely. They had towed a few boats and jet skis back to base from breakdowns, and he was pleased to see the number of boats that had communications equipment and life jackets on board.

"It is good to see children wearing life jackets - it would be good to see more parents wearing them as well."