It's an unusual sight, one of the country's most popular beaches in the height of summer and no-one in the water.

"We've had a tropical cyclone come in in the last few days which has brought swells of about three to five foot to the beach," said Joanne Parry, Patrol Captain at Mount Maunganui Beach. "That changes our patrolling style for sure. So we've got a heap of water coming in which means we've got a heap of water coming out as well."

The swells were so big that lifeguards were asking people to stay out of the water.

"This wasn't as big as expected but it doesn't mean that the conditions are any safer," said Parry.

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"We've been keeping people off the main beach. Every thirty minutes we've got a lifeguard who roams and we've been stopping and chatting to every group of people telling them the dangers.

"We've got our rip signs on the beach. We can't get to every beachgoer and tell them the dangers, so we try and put out signage to stop people going – our goal is for zero rescues; we don't want anybody to be getting into trouble."

Many beachgoers are surprised at being asked to stay out of the water, despite huge waves crashing to shore right before them.

"They don't realise they're swimming in a dangerous spot. It may look calm but quite often that means you're in a hole or you might be in a rip as well, so the calmest place absolutely is not the safest place. You want to be where the waves are breaking evenly."

With the weather pattern now moving on, the big waves will have rolled out of town in time for the long weekend.

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