A mother and son who leapt into the Orewa Estuary to rescue their precious pooches from being swept out to sea ended up needing rescuing themselves.
Adele Carryer and her son Keegan, 23, were exercising their dogs at the Orewa Estuary on Sunday when their 14-year-old black labrador Kune swam into the middle of the estuary.
They watched in shock from the Red Beach side of the estuary as the old girl went further out into the water and got sucked into the rip just after midday.
"She obviously realised it wasn't going well and she had turned around and was trying to come home and she wasn't moving. She was swimming and not moving - she was obviously caught in the rip," Adele said.
"We watched for a bit and then her head went under the water and I said, 'no I'm going in'."
Adele, who is a strong swimmer, stripped off some of her clothes and was swimming out when Keegan joined her.
"He said, 'mum look at her, she's being dragged out - you're too slow'. So he gapped it into the water and started swimming out after her."
This encouraged their young pup Chevy, a 14-month-old Staffordshire Pointed cross, to also follow them.
Suddenly all four of them were being swept out to the mouth of the estuary which meets the ocean.
"I thought it was okay. I thought it was shallow water, but then a wave came in and I ended up being sort of scratched and thrown against the rocks and so then I thought 'I need to get away from these rocks'," Adele said.
"It quickly just got out of hand."
Keegan swam after Kune whose arthritic back legs had seized up and was keeping her afloat, while Adele caught Chevy.
"I grabbed Chevy and pointed him to the beach and said 'swim pup, swim'.
But as they headed towards the shore, a large wave crashed over them.
Chevy then panicked, pushing Adele under the water.
"All I was thinking was I'm going to save my son and all my dogs."
She tried to calm the medium size dog, he pushed his paws on her shoulders dunking her again.
After taking in a mouthful of salt water, she realised the seriousness of the situation and raised her hands up in the air and started screaming.
"I just yelled 'help, help, help'.
The waves were crashing all around them.
She looked on the beach and saw people watching unable to do anything.
She later learned a woman playing on the beach with her children and people living in a house on the cliff top over looking the estuary had witnessed the whole event and called 111 for help.
Lifeguards from Orewa Surf Lifesaving Club arrived within minutes of her signalling for help and confidently pulled Chevy and Adele into the IRB before grabbing Kune and Keegan who were closer to shore.
Orewa Surf Club president Faron Turner said they were alerted to the incident by someone running down the beach at the same time as the phone rang.
When they arrived the water was really choppy and Faron said he could see Adele's head bobbing up and down as she was pushed under by the dog.
"She looked pretty fearful, but so did the dog at that point."
Adele was in the open ocean and had been dragged about 500 metres from where they rushed into the water about an hour after high tide.
The mother and son had some nasty cuts and lacerations from being thrown against the rocks, but Adele said they would heal within a few days.
Adele urged dog owners to make sure the rip was going in towards the estuary and not out to sea. The two dogs had been playing with other pooches for about 20 minutes before Kune got sucked in by the rip.
Adele said it wasn't until a few hours later when they reflected on the event and Keegan turned to her and said, "Mum, we nearly drowned today".
The two dogs also spent Sunday evening cuddled up to each other recuperating.
What to do in a rip:
• Relax and float
• Raise your hand
• Ride the rip