Changeable sea conditions could result in a higher chance of rips and big swells today as thousands of people were expected to flock to Western Bay beaches.

Local surf lifesavers are hoping they won't see a repeat of Auckland Anniversary weekend when 24 rescues took place in similar, changing conditions.

But Eastern Region lifesaving manager Chase Cahalane said today's conditions were fine compared with what was predicted for the rest of the week.

He believed the 27C temperatures would lure people to the beach on Waitangi Day, when a 1m swell and a "moderate" wave height of 1.5m was expected.


"There will be a little bit of surf which could create rip currents and end up having an increase on the [number] of rescues like Anniversary Weekend," he said.

"But throughout the week is looking to really get a lot of wind-generated waves getting right up to the 2m mark like the [Auckland Anniversary] long weekend."

A surfer at Mount Main Beach. Photo / George Novak
A surfer at Mount Main Beach. Photo / George Novak

Last weekend, big swells and packed beaches kept Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Omanu surf lifesaving clubs busy.

Saturday's heavy northeast swell, combined with a 2.1m high tide, left a potentially nasty hangover.

Strong currents have gouged out holes all along the coast, greatly increasing the chances of rips on today's public holiday.

Another big swell was due to hit later this week, stemming from several low-pressure systems dropping down out of the Pacific.

Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service Patrol captain Cameron Witney said they carried out five rescues and several responses last weekend. Three of the rescues involved surfers and boogie-boarders out beyond their limits in a big swell.

"It was a bit concerning both boogie-boarders weren't wearing fins," Witney said.


"February is usually when we start seeing more easterly swells develop and the water is at its warmest so it's a great reminder to people hitting the beaches to take extra care."

Lifeguards also patrolled the Mauao base track on Saturday morning, when the swell coincided with a king tide, causing waves to wash over parts of the track.

Witney said other incidents involved lifeguards helping ill and injured people off Mauao.

Witney himself was involved in a rescue before patrols started on Saturday, helping two surfers in trouble after one had been pulled out by strong currents.

Large surf at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Jamie Troughton / Dscribe Media Services
Large surf at Mount Main Beach. Photo / Jamie Troughton / Dscribe Media Services

Omanu Surf Lifesaving Club president Donal Boyle expected the big swells to only get bigger.

"We are due to get some more big seas," Boyle said. "There was certainly a big pull towards the Mount and the big swells were creating a lot of holes along the coast."

Boyle said the big swells and strong currents created a busy weekend for Omanu surf lifesavers.

"There was a lot of preventatives and letting people know where to swim correctly," Boyle said.

Papamoa Surf Life Saving club captain Shaun Smith said last weekend's big surf had softened providing Monday with a "perfect" beach day for young families.

Smith said the Papamoa club had had a good season so far with lifesavers needing to assist rather than rescue swimmers.

"Just kids needing some support getting back to standing on their feet after getting a bit too deep and needing assistance," Smith said.

MetService forecaster Cameron Coutts said Tauranga beaches could expect an easterly swell of about 1m which could reach 2m at high tide on Waitangi Day.

"With a southeasterly it is mostly offshore which will be quite good for surfers especially in the morning," Coutts said. "One metre means it could be get a bit bigger, so always keep an eye on that swell."

Coutts said the swells would pick up from about Wednesday and there was a strong northeasterly gradient building.

"There could be some quite big seas and quite a lot of wind," he said.

Local long-time surf forecaster Peter Morse said the swells had been providing "pretty good" wave patterns for surfers, but the strong currents had kept surf lifesavers busy.

"The currents are stronger than normal," Morse said. "The water is warmer than normal ... we are loving some of this present pattern."

Morse said sand dredging along the coastline had created a "tremendous river of a current" and strong undertows, and he expected the strong swells and currents to get bigger later in the week.

Regional lifeguards finish week-day patrolling at the end of this week at most beaches, while voluntary patrols will continue every weekend until Easter.