Some very hardy swimmers showed what they were made of when they ventured out in their togs on Sunday, the shortest day of the year, to plunge into 14 degrees Celsius water for the 10th annual mid-winter swim at Paihia.

Organiser Karen Markin, a Paihia swimming coach, said 57 people took part this year, a mix of regulars and locals giving the event a go for the first time.

It rained in Paihia all day on Saturday and until 9am on Sunday, when a near-miraculous two-hour window of fine weather broke for the Bay of Islands Ocean Swimmers' Shortest Sunday of the Year Swim. The rain set in again straight after prizegiving.

''It was the first time lots of us had seen each other since March, before lockdown, so it was such a happy occasion. It felt like being engulfed in a tsunami of sunshine and happiness,'' Markin said.


This year's winner was Archie White, of Kerikeri, who completed the swim in 3 minutes 20 seconds. Andy Young(Ōpua) was second with Marty Hampton (Moerewa) third, followed by first woman across the line, Molly Board (Kawakawa).

Eunice Kennedy (Ōpua) won a bottle of rum for being the last to leave the water - ''She was loving it so much she didn't want to get out'' - while Andy Murdoch, who wore a shark's head, won a bottle of champagne for best headwear.

Wetsuits are banned during the annual dip.