With Easter fast approaching and unsettled weather on the way, Surf Life Saving New Zealand urges Kiwis to stay safe in the water over the long weekend as the Surf Life Saving season draws to an end. Patrols are still active on many beaches in the Northern Region and parts of the Eastern Region until Easter Monday, with South Island and central North Island beaches no longer being patrolled.
So far this summer, Surf Lifeguards have rescued 979 people and spent over 197,000 hours patrolling New Zealand beaches - with rescues well down on previous years. Surf Life Saving General Manager Programmes and Services Brett Sullivan attributes this to three key areas.
“The number of beachgoers has dropped significantly in various parts of the country, particularly in
Christchurch and we put this down to the public’s perception of the water quality and reluctance to travel to Sumner and Taylors Mistake due to damaged roads and the isolated nature of those beaches. The Rena disaster has obviously affected the Tauranga coastline right down to Whakatane and the inconsistent weather patterns we’ve experienced this summer means we’ve basically seen less people enjoying our coastline.” said Sullivan.
“Our statistics show we’re still seeing consistencies in drowning incidents where people are wearing inappropriate clothing and are unaware of hazardous surf conditions and rips. We’re constantly working towards lowering New Zealand’s high drowning rate and ask people to take responsibility for their own safety when around water.” said Sullivan.
As well as patrolling beaches throughout summer, preventing drowning and injury, Surf Life Saving New Zealand runs beach education programmes for school children including Surf 2 School, and Beach Ed. This season children from more than 250 schools took part in these courses, gaining invaluable knowledge and understanding of the beach environment.