Two busy Tauranga beaches and two popular walking tracks were closed yesterday as massive surf hammered the coastline.

The huge waves forced the closure of Mauao's base track and Moturiki (Leisure) Island for more than three hours.

Mount Maunganui and Omanu beaches were also closed in the morning as large swells battered the beaches, with water almost reaching the dunes in some places.

Papamoa beach remained open.

Mount lifeguard William Dansereau turns walker Beverley Webber away from the base track. Photo/John Borren
Mount lifeguard William Dansereau turns walker Beverley Webber away from the base track. Photo/John Borren

Lifeguards were stationed at entrances to Mauao and were positioned at other points around the mountain turning walkers back.

At the base track, walker Beverley Webber was surprised to be turned away, saying she had never heard of the track closing for high seas.

"I usually do the walk once a week up and around. I quite enjoy watching the waves but I wouldn't want anything to happen."

Lifeguard William Dansereau, stationed at the northern edge of the track, said the surf was the largest he had seen in the few years since he had been a lifeguard at Mount Maunganui.

The base track was reopened after midday with the track suffering minor surface damage.
Tauranga City Council communications adviser Marcel Currin said staff would liaise with the lifeguards and police again early today to assess track and ocean conditions and determine whether another temporary closure was necessary.

Mr Currin said the base track and Moturiki Island were last closed due to high seas on March 16, 2015.

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Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service patrol captain Sam Roy said there were no flags at Mount Maunganui yesterday as conditions were unsafe for swimming.

He said conditions got better in the afternoon but there were still several dangerous rips surging along the beach.

"People have been pretty good today. All day there have probably only been five people swimming and well in the shallows. There were about two people out on boogie boards, but no surfers."

A little penguin was also avoiding the big surf at Mount Main Beach and was spotted taking a break on the beach.

Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain Rob Sheard said during high tide in the morning, surges were coming right up to the dunes. Because of this, people were warned to stay out of the water until 1pm, when the beach reopened. There were about 20 people in the water at 3.30pm.

Shaun Smith, Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain, said flags were out all day at Papamoa, which did not have the rocks that made Mount Maunganui more dangerous in a big swell.

There were up to 80 people in the water at 3.30pm.