A pod of orca playing in the waves closed a north Auckland beach yesterday, providing some extra excitement for Christmas Day beachgoers.

Sharks up to 2-3m long were also spotted at two North Shore beaches - one close to the city.

While there were also reports of floating, stinging jellyfish just before 3pm today at Bethells Beach.

Lifeguards across Northland and Auckland were kept busy yesterday, with more than 8000 people at the region's beaches at one time.

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Orca appeared in the waves at Pakiri Beach near Wellsford around 12pm, forcing lifeguards to close their flags, a Surf Life Saving Northern Region spokesperson said. The beach was reopened at 12.30pm.

Around 11am lifeguards at Orewa Beach in northern Auckland confirmed a 2m shark had been spotted by multiple paddleboarders as close as 150m from shore, according to RNZ.

The beach was closed until 3pm, and swimmers were urged not to use nearby Red Beach or Hatfields Beach.

The shark was also spotted on Christmas Eve, about 500m offshore.

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In the evening on Christmas Day the police maritime unit advised that a 2-3m shark was spotted in Browns Bay, also on Auckland's North Shore. Nearby patrols were alerted and the Safeswim website was updated with an alert warning people to exercise caution.

An
An "exercise caution" alert was posted to the SafeSwim website after a report of a 2-3m shark at Browns Bay on Auckland's North Shore. Photo / File

Despite the beach closure Orewa's lifeguards still had a busy day, dealing with one major incident and 10 minor first aids caused by cuts from shells on the beach - some of which needed stitches.

Two men were also helped ashore after they were blown out to sea on a raft.

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At Mangawhai Heads, lifeguards rescued a woman who was swept out to sea, and dealt with two major first aid incidents.

Tragically two people drowned yesterday - one a crab fisherman at Uretiti Beach near Ruakākā, and the second a snorkeller at Kai Iwi Lakes.

Beach Safety Tips

• Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the flags
• Ask a lifeguard for advice
• Don't overestimate your ability
• Keep young children within arm's reach at all times
• Never swim or surf alone
• Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore
• When fishing from rocks, always wear a lifejacket
• If in doubt, stay out!mara
• If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for Police
• Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap
• Check the SafeSwim website for water quality and swimming conditions