Horses proved a useful addition for police in Whangarei as beach patrols swung into full gear at Pataua South yesterday.
Chadd, Morpheus and Buck attracted the attention of beachgoers many of whom took turns patting and even riding the horses at the popular holiday spot.
The animals were being ridden by police area commander for Whangarei-Kaipara, Inspector Tracy Phillips, Senior Constable Spence Penney and Constable Claire Carter.
A public relations initiative for Northland police, the horses will be used to patrol Waipu Cove, Uretiti, Ruakaka and Marsden Pt areas today.
The operation is being supported by the Whangarei District Council and the Department of Conservation.
Police say the intention is to provide high visibility and to reassure the public of safety at beaches around Whangarei.
The beach at Pataua South was sparsely populated at lunchtime yesterday providing wide spaces to swim, paddleboard, kayak, and windsurf.
Ms Carter said she and fellow officers had been visiting baches and handing out gifts in the form of "Say Yeah, Nah" wrist bands to deter motorists from drinking and driving and urging people to be responsible around alcohol.
"It's been very quiet here. Public feedback's been really good and we've even taken the horses for a swim," Ms Carter said.
Brisbane tourist Angela De Jager brought her triplets Jenna, Bradley and Matthew, 13, on their first trip to Northland.
"Love it. There's way more trees, it's a beautiful, scenic place, people are friendly and a lot less people around," she said.
The police horses, she said, were a welcome sight, although she'd seen them in Australia.
She plans to come back to Pataua South in future.
Hamilton's Jo McLachlan spent Christmas at Pataua South with children Cole, 12, Braedyn, 10, and Chase, 6, and said police patrols on horseback were a fantastic idea.
Ms McLachlan usually takes her children to Raglan but said Pataua South was a lot quieter and less busier. The kids, she said, enjoyed swimming, kayaking, and fishing - and the police horses.