With reports of water-related tragedies already making headlines, Riversdale lifeguards are pleading with the public to respect the water.
Daily patrols began at the north and south ends of Riversdale Beach yesterday in anticipation of the Boxing Day influx.
Surf Lifesaving Club chair Dave Rose said the club was ready for the spike in Riversdale’s population and would have guards on duty for eight hours a day for the next six weeks.
“Traditionally, Riversdale gets busy after Christmas, probably more than 50 per cent of people here are coming out to their beach house. It’s overcast and still quite warm, and the sea has been quite nice. The beach is filling up now.”
He said there were no incidents to report over the weekend, with volunteers patrolling the beach on Christmas Day.
However, he said the club could not escape the sobering headlines.
“There was a boating incident in Kaikoura, and a canoeist that has gone missing on a lake.
“It’s just so sad.
“We are a country surrounded by water, but there still seems to be a lack of respect or a blaze attitude toward it. It’s frustrating.”
Police have reported four separate drownings or near-drownings in New Zealand in the past couple of days.
Early on Christmas Eve, emergency services were called to Hicks Bay after a diver failed to surface.
Police said tragically, the diver was found unresponsive that afternoon and could not be revived.
Later that day, a 14-year-old boy collecting shellfish near Opotiki became trapped by the rising tide.
He was found clinging to rocks by a rescue helicopter and taken to safety.
On Christmas Day, three people in a dinghy were rescued off the Kaikoura coast after a strong current swept them out to sea and yesterday afternoon, police advised that the body of a canoeist who capsized on Lake Roto Kohatu on Christmas Day had been recovered.
Rose said the advice to anyone going near the water this summer was simple.
“If you’re at the beach, swim between the flags.
“If there are no flags, ask the locals. Be sensible about it, ask where the rips are they will know.
“Talk to the locals, that would be my key thing, even with rivers and streams. The water can be quite dangerous.”
Last summer, Riversdale surf lifeguards clocked more than 4500 patrol hours, rescued 23 people., and participated in 36 search and rescue events.
Rose said the club’s guards were prepared to do it again this summer and were kicking off the new year with a three-days first aid course on January 2.
“We are here, eight hours a day, to make sure the beach is safe.”