Retrieving a lost boogie board from a car park and a bruised butt and ego after a horse riding fall was about as exciting as it got for surf lifeguards around Northland over Labour Weekend.
Not that they're complaining. They are attributing the lack of water-based incidents to a combination of incoming tides, small surf, chilly water and well-behaved beach-goers, despite brilliant weather and record numbers flocking to the seaside.
Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service president and patrolling lifeguard Jon Drucker described it as a "very safe" weekend.
"It was a lovely weekend. We had a busy weekend in terms of attendance but, in terms of incidents, it's been very safe."
In fact, the only incident for the Mangawhai Heads' patrollers was land-based – retrieving a lost boogie board from the car park and returning it to its grateful owner.
Drucker said most of the weekend patrolling had been during incoming tides. Outgoing tides causes stronger currents and a higher chance of rips.
Along with the base population of Mangawhai increasing over the last few years, he said a lot of traffic was coming into town Friday afternoon, increasing the number of beach-goers.
Sunday was the busiest day with a peak head count of 441 – slightly more than a normal summer's day. However, Mangawhai Heads' busiest day on the beach is New Year's Day with the Northern Bass festival where numbers reach 1000.
But although the weather was a scorcher, water temperatures were far from tropical at a chilly 16C.
"It's refreshing," said Drucker, adding that temperatures get up to 21C in the summer.
He said after "Covid yanked the rug out from under us", things were definitely picking up and he had heard from bach owners in the area that there were more bookings than normal with the increase of domestic tourism.
Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving patrol captain and club chairman Tania Ahrens said they too had zero water-based incidents over the weekend. Although Ruakākā Beach had been popular, fewer people were in the water than a typical summer day because of the colder water.
"It's been really good. It's been steadily busy on the beach with a peak head count of 350 at 1pm Sunday and we had the open day for junior members, which probably brought about 30 new families, but no incidents on the water.
"I was really surprised. Everyone was really well-behaved and it was a very incident-free weekend. The ambulance was called for someone who fell off a horse. We went to assist but it was very minor – I think it was just a bit of bruising to the backside and the ego."
Ahrens said she was expecting the next four weeks to be quiet because of school and university exams and Christmas parties before picking up again but they would have full patrols on duty until Easter.
At Ocean Beach, at Whangārei Heads,
the number of beach-goers was slightly under-whelming, which perplexed to Whangārei Heads Surf Life Saving Club captain Josh Maxwell.
"We had a record number over winter and we've carried out a few rescues over the past few weekends but this weekend has been fairly quiet and maybe slightly less beach-goers than we've had over the last few weeks."
He said it was all-hands on deck with up to 30 lifeguards in attendance so they used the time for training and to refresh their knowledge.
Beach-goers peaked at about 120 and he put the lower numbers down to the lack of surf and slight onshore winds.