By Caroline Fleming
Large swells battering the Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa coastline are expected to last until the end of the week, with lifesavers urging swimmers to be cautious.
Surf lifesavers along the Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa beaches made four rescues in as many hours on Sunday evening.
They also carried out 200 preventative actions, warning swimmers and surfers who were straying into dangerous territory.
The large swells also caused a section of Mauao's base track about half way round to be closed temporarily yesterday.
The Tauranga City Council urged people using Mauao's tracks to exercise caution – particularly if they had children with them.
On Sunday lifeguards deemed the beach too unsafe for a flagged swimming area, but that did not deter some beachgoers.
Lifeguards were kept very busy with more than 20 staff monitoring the beach and three vehicles roaming the coastline until 7pm Sunday night.
Patrol captain Jamie Troughton said the crews were constantly shepherding people out of various rips caused by the large swell and along the beach.
The four rescues were all the results of surfers getting themselves in trouble, he said.
Lifeguards carried out over 200 preventative actions, any of which could have turned into serious incidents without those interventions, he said.
Troughton said many people got themselves stuck in the permanent rip coined "the escalator", that borders the rocks of Moturiki Island (Leisure Island) and was particularly strong yesterday.
Although the swell partially weakened on Monday, Troughton said the danger to swimmers had not.
"Large swells like this cause more rips."
Swells were still battering the coast on Monday and were only expected to weaken slightly on Tuesday, with more brewing for the weekend too.
Troughton said swimmers should be mindful that, with the holidays over, the Surf Lifesaving service had fewer staff than usual, as the professional regional lifeguards finished last week, Troughton said.
He said swimmers must exercise as much caution as possible in these conditions.