Northland has already matched its drowning toll of last year with the death of a fisherman swept off the rocks at Ninety Mile Beach yesterday.

Kaitaia Sergeant Trevor Beatson said the elderly man was fishing early yesterday morning when he disappeared from the rocks and drowned.

Police arrived at the scene about 10.30am to find his body washed on to the sand.

Police and St John Ambulance were in attendance for most of the day, and were identifying the body to notify the family.


It was the fifth drowning in Northland so far this year. Last year, Northland's beaches, rivers and lakes claimed five lives.

MetService forecaster Elke Louw said conditions had been good yesterday morning, with light easterly winds of about 10 knots and 0.5-metre swells.

Mr Beatson said quite a few other people had been fishing at The Bluff at the time.

The latest death came after Aucklander Alexy Ivanov drowned at Uretiti Beach and a 17-year-old drowned at Kai Iwi Lakes in March.

An 18-month-old girl wandered into the Waipapakauri Creek and drowned in February, and in January a 19-year-old drowned at Haruru Falls.

Figures from Water Safety New Zealand show that of the five people who drowned in Northland last year, the youngest was under 4 years of age.

The other victims were in the age ranges of between 5 and 14 years, 25 and 34, 55 and 64, and one over 65. All of them were males.

Meanwhile, a man almost drowned at Tutukaka on Saturday.

An ambulance spokesman said emergency services were alerted about the incident at Tutukaka Marina at 1.25pm.

A man had been pulled out of the water by members of the public and gone into cardiac arrest.

He had gone under the water and showed no signs of life. He was successfully revived and flown to hospital in a critical condition.

Drowning is consistently the third-highest cause of unintentional death in New Zealand. It is surpassed only by road crashes and accidental falls.

Northland lifeguards were involved in 74 rescues at the region's patrolled surf beaches during the summer.