Due to the ongoing swell and challenging surf conditions, doubled with the hot weather that Tauranga has been experiencing, Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s local Eastern Region team has opted to continue observational lifeguard patrols along the coastline due to the considerable number of after-hours rescues and callouts.
With many surf lifeguards from local clubs responding to rescues after school and into the evening, SLSNZ Eastern Region Lifesaving Manager Chase Cahalane says it's “vital” to reintroduce roving patrols to ensure everyone could stay safe during this weather event.
Concerns for public safety were raised by SLSNZ with Tauranga City Council and it was agreed that there was an immediate need to provide a more proactive and quicker response to any potential rescues during the week.
So the two have teamed up to put senior surf lifeguards back onto the beach during this time.
“Due to the low pressure systems in the Pacific, the swells are a lot larger than normal and this means the risk for swimmers getting into difficulty has increased. We had seen a significant increase in the number of rescues so we had to do something."
Tauranga City Council has made a financial contribution to SLSNZ enabling them to provide the provision of paid senior lifeguards on observational and quick response patrols across Tauranga beaches until 1 March 2019.
“It's important to note that there will be no flagged areas for the public to swim at but there will be surf lifeguards strategically placed along the coastline from Mount Maunganui, through Omanu and to Papamoa at various times depending on the day.
“These hours range from 12pm to 8pm depending on the need, and during that time, lifeguards will carry out roaming patrols and undertake as many preventative actions and public safety interventions as required.”
Volunteer weekend patrols with flagged areas continue at most beaches around the Bay of Plenty until early March, with some beaches including Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Omanu and Papamoa continuing until mid-April, and SLSNZ encourages people to swim at those during those patrol times.
“However, if you’re not swimming during a patrol time and get into difficulty, please remember to relax and float. Secondly, raise your hand to attract attention and indicate that you need help. With our surf lifeguards doing these observational patrols in the area, either we will see you, or someone will alert us to your need."
The safest option is still to swim between the flags at a lifeguarded beach. You can find out where and when these patrolled beaches are on www.findabeach.co.nz or by downloading the BPMe app to your smartphone.