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A woman who died after getting into trouble in the Taranaki surf was caught in a rip and pulled out into the heavy swell, say surf lifeguards.

On Monday evening, the critically injured person was pulled from the water at Oakura Beach near New Plymouth.

Despite CPR, she died at the scene.


Today, Surf Life Saving NZ said the woman and a man had gone swimming at the holiday spot at about 7.45pm.

However, both lifeguards and police considered there to be a large swell at the time and while Oakura Beach is monitored by lifeguards, the pair were swimming outside of patrol hours.

"They entered the water in front of the nearby campground and were caught in a rip and pulled out into the swell," Surf Life Saving NZ said in a statement.

The man was able to signal for help, while a surfer found the woman face down in the water, the statement reads.

"He tried to help her and also signalled for help from seven off-duty seasonally employed Surf Lifeguards who were training in the water nearby."

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Three of the lifeguards went to their aid, two of whom were able to get the woman to shore.

The other stayed with the man until an inflatable rescue boat was deployed to rescue him.


Emergency services had arrived by the time the woman was brought to shore but she died on the beach. The man, meanwhile, was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital.

"Our thoughts are with the woman's family and friends at this sad time," the statement said.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand's Coastal Safety team will now work with emergency services to establish the circumstances of the woman's death.