Whangarei's surf lifesavers are up there with the best with three major awards from the Surf Life Saving Northern Region Awards of Excellence going to clubs in the district.
The Whangarei Heads Surf Lifesaving Club, which patrols Ocean Beach, was named the Club of the Year, while Ocean Beach was named the Best Patrolled Beach in the 2014 Toyota Financial Services Surf Life Saving Northern Region Awards of Excellence, which were held at Eden Park in Auckland, on Saturday.
About 330 people attended the award ceremony which saw John Kearney, of the Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving Patrol, named examiner of the year.
Whangarei Heads Club Captain Julian Pitman said the two accolades for the club were huge honours and recognition that the club was working hard to keep its community safe in the water.
"We are pretty stoked with those awards. We've put a lot of hard work in over the past few years and to come out on top against some very stiff competition from the bigger clubs is just amazing," Mr Pitman said.
"We've only been going for about 27 years, but we are starting to make a real name for ourselves. We've been named best patrolled beach twice before, but to get best club, we're just so happy with that."
He said the club is very family-orientated with two generations of some families patrolling Ocean Beach.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Pam Elgar said the three awards were a fantastic achievement for Whangarei and its surf lifesavers.
"It's such a great achievement, particularly for Whangarei Heads, Ruakaka and John himself," she said.
Hannah Williams, from Mangawhai but a member of the Red Beach Club, was named the under 16 Sportswoman of the year at the awards.
Singer-songwriter and Surf Life Saving ambassador Jamie McDell was one of the night's guest performers.
Surf Lifeguard of the Year and Volunteer of the Year were won by members of Orewa Surf Life Saving Club. Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Orewa SLSC chairman John Chapman.
Surf Lifeguard of the Year was awarded to Faron Turner who is involved at both club and regional level.