Children trying to cool off by swimming in Marine Parade have sparked a call for action, before tragedy can strike at the dangerous central Napier beach.

During the school holidays hundreds have been flocking to the beachfront Bay Skate facility. However, concern has arisen, with high temperatures driving some to cool off by swimming nearby in Marine Parade.

With large swells and unpredictable waves the beach is treated with caution by locals. In the past 20 years six people have drowned off it, with most tragedies involving people snatched by waves at the water's edge.

Read more: Surf lifesaving: Hawke's Bay lifeguards seek glory at nationals
Waimarama Beach Day set to be hot


Bay Skate manager Will Hanson said children were being dropped off by their parents, who might not be aware their children were leaving the supervised facility to swim when they became too hot.

Although the majority of the time children were swimming in safe conditions, "it just takes that one time for a younger kid to follow the older kids in. It only takes a minute to drown."

Rather than discouraging kids from swimming, Mr Hanson wanted to educate them about the risks, and the need to swim in patrolled areas.

"It's not like its 30C outside and we're saying 'you've got to be uncomfortably hot', we're saying 'go down Marine Parade five minutes and swim where it's safe'," Mr Hanson said.

"That could be the difference between a good day at Marine Parade or a really bad day."

Napier City Council - which owns Bay Skate - has launched a campaign to encourage people to cool off in supervised areas, such as the one further along Marine Parade.

At this busy time of year, Napier City Council director community services Antoinette Campbell said Bay Skate staff had their hands full seven days a week.

"We would absolutely hate to see any of our Bay Skate community – or anyone for that matter - get into trouble in the waves outside the skate park. That would be an absolute tragedy," she said,

"We all know Marine Parade can be treacherous and our message to parents and to kids is for everyone to be well aware of the risks and pop down to one of the patrolled areas if they want to swim."

Mr Hanson said so far the users of Bay Skate had been very open to the message, with the facility's 'ambassadors' - young leaders at the park - setting a good example for other kids.

The council will be distributing material to remind people where the patrolled areas were. The closest to Bay Skate is the area supervised by Pacific Surf Life Saving Club near Ocean Spa.

Club chair Emma Hubbard said although it could be safe to swim on Marine Parade, it was always better to swim between the flags.

Although on a still day "it's like swimming in a lake", larger swells meant bigger waves which could knock people off their feet.

Just last week a woman drowned at a lagoon in Haumoana, while trying to rescue two children.

Since January 1996 there have been six drownings off Marine Parade in Napier, the most recent being in November 2016 , according to Water Safety New Zealand figures.

-Supervised areas around Napier include Westshore Beach, Pandora Pond, and the Pacific Surf Life Saving Club patrolled section on Marine Parade.