Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Water-lovers go with flow

King tides lure dozens out to play but expert warns people to take care in the current.

Nick Gant of Kohimarama has a go at paddling on a flooded Tamaki Drive in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson
Nick Gant of Kohimarama has a go at paddling on a flooded Tamaki Drive in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

Water-lovers took advantage of unusually high king tides that flooded many parts of Auckland during the weekend - with some paddle-boarding down Tamaki Drive while others kayaked near State Highway 1, just north of the city.

Ben Sheeran, campaigns co-ordinator for Auckland King Tides Initiative, said king tides occur when the moon is either new or full and closest to Earth, but other factors, such as the weather, also influence the height of the tide.

They account for the highest 2 per cent of all tides in a year's cycle, but the current cycle was particularly unusual, Mr Sheeran said. "The unique thing about the king tide today is that we had one that was on both the east coast and the west coast - that doesn't happen all the time."

The length of time for which the tides had hit the coasts - by tomorrow it will be four days and should be at its peak - was also unique, he said.

Mr Sheeran said it was important to publicise king tide events as they showed a glimpse into the potential impact which future sea-level rises could have on coastlines.

"It's great that everyone is getting out there witnessing something that's quite unusual, but there's a really serious element to it that we want to try and bring in terms of awareness," Mr Sheeran said.

The big tides, which have been hitting beaches since Saturday, forced the closure of several beaches and are believed to have played a role in the death of a woman who was trying to save her children from a rip and big waves at Ruakaka Beach.

In Auckland, a family of three also had to be rescued from Bucklands Beach after the king tide changed the normally predictable currents, leaving them stranded and too tired to return to the shore.

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The tides were so high some lifeguards had no room to put flags up. Whangamata Beach closed for an hour yesterday morning because "the tides were too high to put out a patrol" while Waihi Beach was also temporarily off limits.

Piha Beach was also packed with beachgoers yesterday, but the king tides did not cause any problems.

In Auckland, parts of Tamaki Drive and the Northwestern Cycleway were inundated at high tide, just after 10am.

Walkers were seen wading along footpaths that would usually be well above water next to the Northwestern Motorway.

Surfers thrived in king surf in the Bay of Plenty, with dozens taking to the large swells and impressive waves at Mt Maunganui.

Police said the flooding didn't cause any traffic problems, as it had been well publicised in advance.

- additional reporting APNZ

- NZ Herald

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