A man who got into trouble swimming at Ruakākā Beach says he couldn't have made it to shore without the lifeguard who rescued him.

It was the first rescue at the beach since paid lifeguards have been patrolling.

Aucklander Gareth Jones said he was out swimming when he found himself going deeper and deeper.

"I stuck my hand up and the lifeguard came and grabbed me, I couldn't make it without them," he said.


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Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving Patrol club captain Brenna Ahrens, who rescued Jones, said he raised his hand about 11.30am and she reached him within minutes.

"There's quite big surf today at Ruakākā, quite a few swimmers are trying to swim out back past the waves but this swimmer obviously has gone out too far for his swimming abilities," she said.

"As soon as he was off his feet in the surf, when a lull came through he just started getting taken by the current a little bit and wasn't strong enough to swim back in."

Paid lifeguards have been patrolling the beach for the past three weeks and will finish on January 31.

Ahrens said the man "absolutely" did the right thing by raising his hand.

"That's what we're here for, we're here to help people if they need any assistance. We would rather people put up their hand and us get them back in safely."

Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving Patrol Club captain Brenna Ahrens rescuing Gareth Jones. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving Patrol Club captain Brenna Ahrens rescuing Gareth Jones. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It's been a busy couple of days at the beach with about 150 to 170 people visiting on Christmas Day and about 150 people visiting on Boxing Day.


"It's started getting a lot busier than the last week. We've had at least 100 people on the beach at all times. I think it will get busier as the next week goes on towards New Year's," she said.

Ahrens said how soon the first rescue happens at the beach depends on conditions.

"Often Ruakākā doesn't have a lot of surf but this year it does which changes the beach conditions quite a bit and makes it a lot easier for people to get in to trouble. It just means as the surf changes and gets bigger, people just need to be careful to make sure they know their limits in the water."

She said people should be cautious about how deep they go out.

"The ocean is always going to be a bit stronger than you are. There are currents in the water at the moment but nothing too strong."

The rescue comes after two Christmas Day drownings - one at Bream Bay, and one at Kai Iwi Lakes.


Meanwhile, on Christmas Day Mangawhai Heads lifeguards rescued a female who was swept out, and assisted with two major first aids; and lifeguards at Whangārei Heads helped a patient experiencing chest pain at a nearby bach by responding with a defibrillator and providing support to the St John crew before returning to set up their flags.