Far North Surf Rescue is enjoying a fantastic start to 2017.

The rescue of two divers from rocks at Tapotupotu in March, in extremely difficult conditions, has been judged the Rescue of the Month, while the Ahipara-based unit has also won a brand new IRB, complete with outboard and trailer, from BP.

All 73 surf rescue clubs around the country were invited to make a case as to why they should win the IRB, and FNSR came out on top.

It came down to distances, chairman/president Dave Ross said.


"We cover a huge area, from Ahipara to Spirits Bay and Tapotupotu," he said. "About 35km of beach for each of our three IRBs. The national average is 4km per IRB. In Auckland it's about 200m."

The club would make very good use of the new $25,000 craft, he added, and the $500 BP fuel voucher that went with it.

Meanwhile the March rescue at Tapotupotu had gone down in the unit's history.

The weather was so bad, in fading light, that the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter couldn't fly, the 3m swell was bigger than Coastguard was prepared to face, and the nearest cliff rescue team was three and a half hours away, so it was up to Far North Surf Rescue.

An IRB was towed to Tapotupotu and launched there, Mr Ross saying the outcome had been a "pretty gutsy" rescue by teenage lifeguard Anthony Walker and club captain Thom Anderson.

"We were their last hope really, so we had to do it," Mr Walker back on dry land.

He swam about 100m to reach the first of the divers, the raging sea dragging him under and pounding him against rocks, but the divers had been stranded for more than five hours by then, "so we were pretty keen to get them out".

With the younger diver safely aboard the boat Mr Anderson went into the water to rescue the second. The only thing the two rescuers were not prepared to do was go back out to grab the divers' gear.