The second day of 2022 was a scorcher in Whanganui, with many heading for the beaches for recreation and even some education.
On a perfect beach day, lifeguard Daniel Comp had a group of 10 children learning surf and swimming skills and earning a badge for their competence.
Comp is the junior surf co-ordinator for the Wanganui Surf Lifeguard Service. He re-started a group for young would-be lifeguards last summer, with an initial 10 young people aged 7 to 14.
The group has grown to 50, and he now has to hold two training sessions - at 9.30am and 10.40am - each Sunday at Castlecliff Beach.
The children each have a kneeboard that can be used for rescues. Comp didn't tell them he was testing them, but he watched them swim 200m in surf, wade, and float on their backs for the badge.
"Even the under-10s can spot rips already," he said.
They will go into a rookie lifeguard programme aged 13, and may wind up as Comp did - "living and breathing the beach".
He wants them to be safe in surf and know how to negotiate rips, and he applied for and received funding for the programme from the New Zealand Community Trust.
Some were scared to put their heads under water at the start of the programme, but are now confident. They competed against large Taranaki surf clubs at two carnivals and did "reasonably well", Comp said.
There won't be any trouble getting lifeguards in future, his wife, Nicole, predicted.
"We actually have a decent amount this year, and some of the newbies are amazing."
Kai Iwi Beach was also popular on Sunday, with cars spread across the grass parking area and about 40 people in the water.
Junior lifeguard Olivia Bedwell, 17, said it was equally busy the previous day but "quite rough" in the days before that. Working as a lifeguard is her main summer job this year.
Among the four on duty at Kai Iwi was Layton Comp, Daniel's son. He's 17 and a senior lifeguard in his fourth season.
Layton made a rescue at Castlecliff Beach on December 29.
The lifeguards were packing up at 6pm when he noticed a boy having trouble in the surf.
"I just knew something was wrong, so I started making my way towards him, to see if he was all right."
A big wave took the 12-year-old off his feet and into a trough where he couldn't touch the bottom. He started flailing with his arms, bobbing up and down and swallowing water. He did the right thing - put his hand up to ask for help.
Comp reached him and clipped a rescue tube to him. Then he held onto the boy and took the waves for him. A big set of waves pushed them to shore and when Comp was waist-deep he could drag or carry the boy up the beach.
The boy was tired and shocked, but uninjured. His parents have thanked Comp and the boy has joined the junior nipper crew, with his first session on January 9.