A man who died at Piha beach on Tuesday was a British tourist believed to be holidaying in New Zealand with his family.
The 30-year-old was found floating, unconscious and not breathing, in shallow waters near Lion Rock about 6.30pm.
He is thought to have died of natural causes and a post mortem examination was held yesterday to shed more light on the tragedy.
Witnesses told the Herald of frantic attempts by paramedics to revive the man.
"I had just got out of the water because the tide was coming in and it got a little bit dangerous, when I saw the helicopter come in really fast and it did a big circle on the beach," said Steve Knox.
"When I got to a position where I could see, the helicopter was on the beach and there were a lot of people in the area, ambulance, response vehicles, surf lifesavers - all working on the person but unfortunately they couldn't bring him back to life.
"Everyone was back about 200 or 300 metres. One lady was being comforted and a group of people seemed to be sitting waiting for their friend to come back to them."
Ben Fewtrell was at the beach taking photographs when he saw the tragedy unfold.
"It is very sad, they were on a family vacation and were just swimming at the beach. The worst thing was watching them work so hard to revive him, but no luck."
Mr Fewtrell later wrote about what he saw on his Facebook page.
"I feel a bit sad ... I was at the beach shooting sunset and a guy drowned ... I watched as they tried to revive him but no luck ... RIP, even though I never met you, I could see you were someone's husband, dad and son ... sad."
Both St John Ambulance and the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter attended the scene and worked together giving the man CPR.
"We went out there with a doctor and a medic worked on the guy for some time and he was deceased," a Westpac crewman said.
Piha residents were devastated to hear their beach had claimed another life.
Valerie Stanaway said: "I think the endless summer we're still having is attracting more swimmers when the lifeguards are off duty, as there's still quite a few people swimming now."
Another resident said she planned to discuss funding for lifeguards to be on duty seven days a week until at least the end of daylight saving at a community meeting.