Ian Pugh is still too young to be an official lifeguard, but on Friday he saved a man from a rip in Mount Maunganui.

The Tauranga 13-year-old was heading out into the surf at Mount Main Beach after training when he saw an elderly man struggling on his body board.

Pugh said the man looked as if he was getting swept into the rocks.

"He was in a spot where the waves kept crashing on him but he wasn't going anywhere – I went over and asked if he was all right and he said he'd quite like a lift because he was out of breath."


Pugh, a Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service member who has had just two months of surf lifesaving training, negotiated his way back into the beach through the shorebreak with the elderly man clinging on to his board.

He was met by club coaches and lifeguards.

The man was shaken and was assessed by the lifeguards, but was given the all-clear.

Pugh, who goes to Bethlehem College, has earned praise from his senior club mates, who have commended him on his instincts, the way he handled himself in that situation and his humble nature afterwards.

The teenager has played down the rescue.

"It didn't really seem that big a deal but I could see it could've got worse if he was out there for any longer," he said.

"It all happened so fast but it seemed like the best thing to do, to give him a bigger board and get him in safely."

However, patrol captain Julia Conway, who helped Pugh fill out his first rescue incident form, said: "He kept a calm head and did exactly what lifeguards many years his senior are supposed to do."


She said conditions were tricky on Friday, with strong winds and holes formed by large swells earlier in the week.

There were rescues up and down the coast.

Conway recommended people swim between the flags and use swim fins if body boarding.

Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service patrol captain Brent Warner said it was an extremely busy Sunday at Mount Main Beach and along the coast, with beachgoers finding sheltered pockets away from the strong westerly winds.

The small swell meant lifeguards had few incidents to respond to, aside from one first aid call-out when an elderly woman needed medical attention and transport from halfway around the Mauao base track.

"Our team was still really busy with preventative actions but I was impressed by the public's behaviour on such a busy weekend," Warner said.

"Generally people had a really great attitude and were happy to listen to advice from lifeguards about the best places to swim, which in turn makes our job a whole lot easier."

Haven Bellamy, director of lifeguards at Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club, said there were no rescues or searches at Omanu, just some minor first aid events.

"The main thing I noticed was the typical lilos blowing away, especially with the off-shore wind. I pulled in three of those just yesterday [Sunday]."

Shaun Smith, head guard at Papamoa Surf Life Saving Club, said there were no rescues in his patch over the weekend either as the surf had dropped right off, with the wind blowing offshore.

He said there were good crowd numbers both Saturday and Sunday - 500 or 600 on the beach and maybe another couple of hundred in the water - but not as many people as last week.

Friday was probably the worst day, Smith said, with the swell still up, some flash rips opening, and quite a few rescues.

"Nothing spectacular, just those little ones where kids just get washed off their feet a bit and can't get back, so somebody has to go in and pull them back."

Beach weather continues, for now

German tourist Christa Greif with her daughter Anna and son Ferdinand. Photo / George Novak
German tourist Christa Greif with her daughter Anna and son Ferdinand. Photo / George Novak

The new year has brought with it a run of high temperatures, with the mercury reaching more than 25C every day so far.

According to MetService, Sunday and yesterday recorded highs of 29C in Tauranga, the highest temperatures the city has seen in the past 30 days. Today was expected to be almost as hot, with a high of 28C.

Saturday's high of 26C was the lowest recorded so far this year.

Despite a lot of holidaymakers heading home at the weekend, and many locals begrudgingly returning to work, the continued good weather meant the beaches of Mount Maunganui and Papamoa were still reasonably busy yesterday.

And today should see much the same, but there is some rain coming.

Christa Greif, visiting from Bavaria, Germany, with her two children and husband, was one of those enjoying the scorching hot sand at Mount Main Beach yesterday afternoon.

Greif said Mount Main Beach was the nicest beach they had seen so far in New Zealand; they had been in Mount Maunganui for four days and were spending three months in the country.

She said of her 5-year-old daughter Anna and 3-year-old son Ferdinand: "They like the beach, the sun, the warm weather."

Also sitting on the sand was Rob Vanslyke, 61, from Wellsford. He said he was in town for a few days with his wife.

It is part of a summer road trip in their campervan; they have already visited Palmerston North and Carterton.

Old surfie Rob Vanslyke, 61, was visiting Mount Main Beach from Wellsford. Photo / George Novak
Old surfie Rob Vanslyke, 61, was visiting Mount Main Beach from Wellsford. Photo / George Novak

"I'm an old surfie," Vanslyke said.

"We just love the beach. I love the coast. I've surfed a lot of New Zealand and I prefer the East Coast."

He said he and his wife liked Mount Main Beach because it was "open, clean".

MetService meteorologist Rob Kerr said today was forecast to be fine and sunny across the region, with a maximum of 28C and southwest breezes in Tauranga.

He said there was a bit of rain on the way, however, with one or two showers forecast for tomorrow.

That should clear on Thursday, which will be partly cloudy, but more scattered rain is possible on Friday.

It will stay quite warm this week, Kerr said, with an overnight minimum of 18C to 19C tonight.

Surf Life Saving numbers (December 26 to January 4)

Mount Maunganui: 5 rescues, 5 assists, 4 major first aids, 11 minor first aids and 2 searches.
Omanu: 7 rescues, 1 assist, 1 major first aid, 20 minor first aids and 1 search.
Papamoa East: 1 assist.
Papamoa: 1 rescue, 4 assists, 7 minor first aids.
Tay Street: 1 major first aid, 7 minor first aids, 3 searches.
• Rescue Water Craft (working across the coast): 9 assists and 4 rescues.