More than 300 metres out at sea, the woman was bobbing under waves while attempting to hold her staffie-cross above the water.

The dog was panicking and had his paws on her shoulder, pushing the woman further under the water.

"That made her the greatest priority, it was urgent to get to her," Orewa Surf Life Saving Club chairman Faron Turner said.

"We had to reach her in the next 30 seconds to save her life from drowning."

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On March 24, lifeguards from Orewa Surf Life Saving Club were alerted to an incident where someone had been swept out to sea from the Orewa Estuary.

An IRB was launched as a report from police came in, which said a man and his dog were dragged out to sea in a rip tide at the estuary.

People standing on the shore pointed to a man in the water about 300 metres to sea holding a labrador above the water.

Turner, who drove the IRB, steered towards the man but he motioned further out to see where his mother was struggling with another dog.

Conan Willis was at the front of the IRB and was ready to snatch the woman out of the water, however, getting the dog in the boat proved a challenge.

Working as a team, the two lifeguards managed to pull the woman and the dog into the IRB before motoring back to the son and rescued him and the dog.

Back at shore, the lifeguard team administered first aid before taking them back to their car on the other side of the estuary.

The entire rescue took four minutes.

"The urgency in our response and getting the IRB out onto the water can be the difference in them surviving, so we practice for quick responses," Turner said.

"If you see someone in trouble in the water, the best thing you can do is to call 111, ask for police, and tell them it's a water rescue.

"Then stay there to point in the direction you last saw them – our search time is cut down and we can get right into the action and get to them quicker."

The rescue warranted an award and one was awarded to lifeguards of the club, who were handed the BP Rescue of the Month award today.

The award goes to lifeguards who demonstrate excellence during a rescue and BP NZ managing director Debi Boffa said the rescue was outstanding.

"This rescue is yet another example of the importance of IRBs to surf clubs all over the country, and testament to the skills and tenacity of the surf lifeguards who keep us safe at the beach," Boffa said.

"We're incredibly proud to have supported Surf Life Saving for 51 years, and to have the opportunity to recognise the outstanding skills shown in this rescue."