Swimmers urged to keep inside flags
Hot weather and dangerous surf conditions forced lifeguards to close Taylors Mistake beach after pulling nearly 30 people from the water in one day.
Lifeguards are warning that mass rescues could happen again if swimmers keep taking risks in dangerous conditions.
Forty-four people were rescued from Canterbury beaches over the weekend, with 39 on Saturday and 28 of those at Taylors Mistake.
Two people were taken to hospital in serious conditions, while two were treated by ambulance staff on the Taylors Mistake beach with oxygen.
All of the Taylors Mistake rescues happened outside the flags and two were made after the beach was closed.
Taylors Mistake patrol captain Mike Smith, who managed eight volunteer lifeguards on Saturday, said they were forced to close the beach about 4.30pm because of the workload and dangerous conditions.
The team patrolled the boundaries to warn people to stay within safe areas and moved the flags based on the water movements, but some people disobeyed.
The lifeguards usually monitor the beach from 1pm to 5pm, but because of the warm temperatures they started at noon and stayed until about 7pm, despite the closure.
Smith credited his team with keeping the 2400 people who used the beach on Saturday safe and saving the lives of those who were in strife.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand southern regional manager Stu Bryce said the public needed to listen to the lifeguards as the mixture of hot weather, thousands of people and strong currents and swells would happen again.
"We could have had these conditions and no rescues [if people listened]."
He said there was a strong current at Taylors Mistake with a "hole" of deep water in front of it, which surprised swimmers, who were then dragged out in the rip.
"It becomes an area where people struggle to get out from," he said.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand club development officer Jacob Davies said it was a "perfect storm" of conditions. There was one rescue at Taylors Mistake yesterday.