Taranaki surf lifeguards are reinforcing water safety messages after a dramatic rescue at Mokau Beach in the weekend.
Emergency services were alerted about 1.30pm on Saturday after six people were caught in a rip at the beach.
Police, an ambulance and the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter attended.
A rescue helicopter spokesman said two kayakers were able to help the group of swimmers back to the beach.
A 15-year-old boy was taken by the rescue helicopter to Taranaki Base Hospital in a stable condition.
Surf Lifesaving New Zealand club development officer Andy Cronin said the rescue was a timely reminder.
"It is a serious enough incident that people will hopefully take heed," Mr Cronin said.
"We are very lucky that nobody has drowned."
The rescues came on the same day that two men lost their lives in treacherous surf in Northland.
The fishermen were swept out to sea from a beach at Maunganui Bluff, near Dargaville.
A third man, who was rescued by boogieboarders, was in a critical condition in Whangarei Hospital last night.
Mr Cronin said it was important that anyone who went swimming did not get out of their depth.
"The key safety messages from us are know your limits, take care of yourself and others and don't swim unsupervised," he said.
"If in doubt stay out."
He said a rip was a calm spot on a surf beach but not everybody could spot them and they didn't stay in one spot.
"That's why we really push the know your limits [message].
"If you are not a confident swimmer and you are not confident reading the surf, then stay at a depth where you are comfortable."
Mr Cronin said if swimmers did find themselves caught in a rip, they should remain calm and raise a hand to alert lifeguards or other people onshore, and if possible try to swim parallel to the shore.
He said if anyone spotted a swimmer in trouble at an unpatrolled beach or after hours, they should immediately call 111 and ask for police.
"Lifeguards would much rather be called out 50 times for nothing than having someone hesitate and things end in tragedy."
Mr Cronin said swimmers at patrolled beaches had been well behaved and had been listening to lifeguards' instructions.
There had been no major rescues but lifeguards had been called on to provide assistance, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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