Rotorua man Mark Chapman admits a swim back to shore knowing there were a couple of sharks circulating Ōhope beach "got the heart rate going".

He's one of three Rotorua families who have shark tales from their Ōhope holidays.

Despite there being several sightings, experts in the area say the sharks, which were either bronze whaler sharks or thresher sharks, did not usually attack people.

Chapman, a John Paul College teacher, was swimming at Ōhope on Thursday afternoon last week past the breakers with a family friend and her teen son when they noticed they were the only ones in the water.


"We were way out, just swimming and catching the waves, but little did we know they [the life guards] were trying to whistle us back. There was a big line of people on the beach watching."

A shark is spotted at Ohope beach. Photo / Supplied
A shark is spotted at Ohope beach. Photo / Supplied

He said it was unnerving not knowing exactly where the sharks were as he was catching waves back in.

"It got the heart rate going ... definitely made me think twice about going back in. And it's a good story to tell."

But Chapman wasn't put off for long. He said the life guards, who work on the beach outside the Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, did an awesome job and they always felt safe.

"They are just bronze whalers and are there to feed on the fish. It's easy to say now that I'm back on land but, hey, I guess a shark is a shark."

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Earlier on the same day, Stacey Birch, also from Rotorua, spotted a shark in the shallows when she took her children, aged 8 and 5, swimming outside the holiday park.

She said the life guards hadn't started by then and there weren't many people around.


She said she wasn't too surprised as she'd seen sharks there every year since they started holidaying there four years ago.

"It's their home and as long as you don't poke and prod them, they aren't going to hurt you."

She said her children got back into the breakers after half an hour.

The Jarmey family from Rotorua went to Ōhope on Saturday and spotted a shark in the shallows closer to the main beach after a fisherman on a quad bike had rinsed out his bucket.

Erin Jarmey said she and husband Hayden were taking their children - Finlay, 6, and Leroy, 4 - into the water when people next to them started yelling not to go in because of a shark.

Jarmey said everyone in the area was annoyed with the fisherman for attracting the shark.

Carla Reid from Whakatāne Surf Life Saving Club said there had been no more shark sightings than usual.

"This is the ocean and sharks are always going to be a part of it. We have to respect them when we go in the water because it's their home. They are pretty small and they aren't aggressive."

Ōhope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park general manager Mark Inman said when the water was warmer there tended to be the odd shark around looking for bait fish.

A bronze whaler. Photo / File
A bronze whaler. Photo / File

He said it was important beach users swam between the flags to ensure the life guards could keep an eye on them.

"Ōhope is one of the safest beaches in the country to swim in. It's a shallow beach and goes out gradually. There are no rocks or major rips."

A Coastguard spokeswoman said they had not been notified of shark sightings.