Two Wellingtonians have described their desperate efforts to save a distressed diver off the city's south coast.

Police have confirmed a 37-year-old woman lost her life after a 45-minute dive with her husband - the fourth diving death in the area this summer. It appeared she was on a snorkel trail about 300m east of Island Bay beach.

Builders Peter Ryan and Andy Morris, who were working in the area, tried to save the woman.

Mr Morris said a man rushed to them asking for help.


They swam a few metres into the sea where she was on a rock.

They performed CPR for 10 minutes but she was unresponsive and her lips were blue, Mr Morris said.

Then ambulances arrived and two officers came over to help.

"The four of us pulled her back on to the shore," Mr Morris said.

A resident, Jetta Hikuroa, said she saw a male diver leave the scene in a police car soon after.

The woman was not able to be revived.

Wellington City councillor Paul Eagle lives on The Esplanade nearby and saw the drama unfolding after he returned home about 2.30pm.

Police were there, as were three or four ambulances. He also saw police officers with plastic bags.


"I was thinking that's probably [the diver's] gear maybe or gear that's been left behind."

Three other divers have perished off Wellington's south coast since December and Mr Eagle acknowledged it had been a sad summer.

"Every time we hear a police car or ambulance come zooming down it's either a cycling accident or a diver."

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman confirmed it attended the scene at Island Bay. Photo / Supplied
A Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman confirmed it attended the scene at Island Bay. Photo / Supplied

Speaking at the scene, Senior Sergeant Bruce Adams said the woman was "under distress", not far from the shore, in relatively shallow water. He couldn't say exactly what happened to her.

"Her husband tried to bring her back to shore, assisted by members of the public.

"It's a timely reminder for all involved in the sport to take care of what they are doing, their own well-being and their own health and to be very familiar with the conditions of where they're diving in," Mr Adams said.

Locals said the snorkel trail and its surrounds were popular diving spots, with weekends especially busy.

Safety tips

• Never train alone.
• Warm up and prepare properly.
• Never free drive if you've been scuba diving the same day.
• Progress slowly.
• Remain relaxed, especially on the ascent.
• Do not hyperventilate.
• Listen to your body.
• For more, see