Heavy swells, offshore winds and sunny weather combined to create a "perfect storm" of conditions that kept surf lifesavers busy this week.

Chase Cahalane, eastern region lifesaving manager for Surf Life Saving New Zealand, said there had been close to a dozen rescues along the coast from Mount Maunganui to Maketu this week.

They included the mass rescue of four teenaged swimmers who were swept out to sea, out of their depth, in a rip off Mount Main Beach.

Cahalane said the teens had been spoken to by lifeguards before they got into trouble, but "ignored the safety advice".


Fashionable inflatables have also caused issues due to strong westerly offshore winds.

At Tay St yesterday a unicorn-shaped floatie was blown out beyond the breakers by offshore winds, prompting a brief search of the water.

Cahalane said lifeguards had to be sure its owner was not in distress in the water. The floatie was eventually taken back to shore, where someone claimed it.

There had been similar incidents with kayaks and inflatable mattresses because of the wind.

Cahalane said it was not a good idea to use inflatables when the wind was blowing offshore.

He said the swell began building on Tuesday and peaked on Wednesday and Thursday at between 1.3m and 1.5m.

With it came an increase in rips and sea currents that created a "huge hazard on the beach".

"It was a perfect storm of the elements needed for people to get themselves into trouble."

He said 99 per cent of people were good and conscious of their own limitations, but the other 1 per cent were inclined to overestimate their abilities and underestimate the conditions.

While the swell had dropped off and was expected to stay around waist/chest height for the weekend, there were still a few rip currents around.

He said beachgoers should learn how to spot a rip, and advised people to swim at patrolled beaches - between the flags whenever possible - and keep children within arm's reach at all times in the water.