Lifesaving clubs extend patrolling season

By Abby Gillies

Photo / Joel Ford
Photo / Joel Ford

Many northern surf lifesaving clubs have extended patrols beyond the official season, due to the long, hot summer and the resulting busy beaches.

Volunteer weekend lifeguards around the country officially finished their patrols at Easter but several clubs including Orewa, Raglan, Piha, Karekare and Muriwai near Auckland, will have patrols for between one and four more weeks.

The Whiritoa club, on the Coromandel Peninsula, will extend its season for two weeks, and Ruakaka volunteers will be back on duty this weekend. Other northern clubs are also considering extending patrols, depending on the weather and number of people at the beach.

No southern or central clubs are extending their patrols.

"The fact that we've had such a good summer has influenced the fact that there are more people going to the beaches for longer periods of time," said National Surf Life Saving programmes and services general manager Brett Sullivan.

Ruakaka Surf Lifesaving Patrol president Paula Kearney said with the summer sun extending well into autumn, the club's members would be patrolling again this weekend.

"We've had a great [Easter] weekend with few problems, apart from a boat with three men on board flipping as it came across the bar. But they were all okay, and everybody else has had a great time on the beach," she said.

Beachgoers should also remember their own responsibilities to stay safe in and around the water, Mr Sullivan said.

"They have to be a little bit more responsible when they're swimming at places where there have been patrols in the past, and if they do happen to swim at a beach from this point onwards and the flags are up, that's an added bonus."

The Water Safety Code messages were especially relevant at this time of year, said Mr Sullivan.

These are: be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of dangers, and know your limits.

Volunteer surf lifeguards are traditionally on patrol from Labour weekend until Easter, while paid lifeguards are on beaches on weekdays for part of the Christmas and New Year holiday.

- APNZ

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