It's only a matter of time before tragedy strikes at one of New Zealand's most popular beaches, due to a lack of monitoring for the growing number of visitors, a lifeguard says.

Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel is popular with both Kiwis and tourists, with visitor numbers growing by the year.

Head lifeguard Gary Hinds said more people meant more risk - as shown in the past two weeks.

Yesterday an 11-year-old boy was rescued by a surfer after he was caught in a strong rip.


Boy rescued from Hot Water Beach rip in Coromandel

Last weekend a family group of seven people - three adults and four children - had to be rescued after they got in trouble in the water.

Luckily for them two off-duty lifeguards were at the beach and were able to rally several members of the public and jump to action to bring the family to shore safely.

Hinds said the lifeguard service at the beach shut down for winter the weekend before so had the off-duty guards not been there, the family may have all drowned.

Hinds was calling on the government, local council and tourism operators to fund the service for longer in a bid to prevent deaths.

The beach has paid lifeguards five days a week from December 12 to April 28.

The weekends are covered by volunteers.

This year the season had to be extended due to warm weather and high numbers of beachgoers, but Hinds said it needed to go further.

"It's a tourist mecca," he said.

"But while the government and tourism people are telling people to come here, and spending money on advertising to get them to Hot Water Beach, there is no support to keep these people safe."

Hinds said many tourists had a "lack of knowledge" about beach safety, which got them into trouble.

"People keep advertising our wonderful beaches - and they are - but they don't have anyone there to protect the visitors," he said.

"There is a lot of money going into advertising and none into safety."

Hinds said the water was still warm at the beach and people were still flocking there daily.

"We need to start seriously looking at having a full time lifeguard service at Hot Water Beach," he said.

Trust Waikato Hot Water Beach Lifeguard Services chairman, Gary Hinds. NZ Herald photograph
Trust Waikato Hot Water Beach Lifeguard Services chairman, Gary Hinds. NZ Herald photograph

The current fulltimers are paid, but their gear was not funded so the service still had to raise a lot of money to keep going and ensure its rescue devices were up to scratch.

"We have to have guards there seven days a week," Hinds said.

"The number of people coming here has gone up."

There has not been a drowning at Hot Water Beach since last year.

Hinds said over the summer the breeze was mainly offshore, resulting in a flat and calm ocean.

"But it's only a matter of time," he said.

"We've rescued eight people in the last seven days - it's only a matter of time before someone dies."