The shoreline just off Williamson Park in Whangamata was a beach divided yesterday.
On one side, flanked by the lifeguards' flags, were masses of swimmers cavorting in the waves and sunning themselves on the beach.
A seething morass of bronzed and reddening flesh, jam-packed into just about every available metre of space.
A little further down the beach were a phalanx of surfboats, their 60 fluro-adorned crews and support teams assembled in rank and file, not unlike dayglow Roman legions.
These were the representatives of 20 surf lifesaving clubs from around the North Island, assembled for the Surfboat Spectacular.
It is the final event of Whanga Week, a series of sporting and fun community events scheduled during the peak Boxing Day to New Year's Day period.
Further up from the surfboat crews, in their neatly assembled racing lines, was the somewhat more chaotic sight of surfers - hundreds of them.
All jostling for a primo position on each of the curling waves being gently generated by the north-easterly swell; the outline of their boards appearing, from a distance giving the appearance a frenzied mass of sharks were threshing about just beneath the surface.
Sharks were the least of what little worries there were for Whangamata Surf Lifesaving Club head guard Mitch Jensen, who chatted with the Waikato Times while keeping one eye firmly fixed on those in the water.
"We have had no big surf for quite a while. It's all been really gentle, like this," he said.
"We have had a couple of minor rescues - a few people getting suck on rocks or on the islands - but it has mainly be quiet. Really busy but quiet, if that makes any sense."
Although Waihi Beach, further down the coast had been the scene of a handful of recent shark sightings, there had been no such issues at Whangamata.
Further up the beach, amid the sandhills and pine trees, wandering groups of teenagers strode the sand, mostly divided along gender lines.
Each group would occasionally stray close to another - close enough to establish eye contact - and then wander away again, as if some part of some bizzare, complex and utterly inexplicable courtship ritual.
The sound of the breaking surf was occasionally punctuated by the occasional report of the starter's gun, as another surfboat race departed the beach, bound for the buoys anchored about 200 metres offshore - and then a round of polite clapping from the support crews further up the beach, when the winning team finally made it back to terra firma.
"It was a really good day," Surf Lifesaving New Zealand spokesman Jamie Troughton said.
"There were no accidents or mishaps. I don't think the lifeguards further down the beach were too troubled at all either. I think that was always going to be the way when you have around 400 lifeguards all over the show."
At the end of the competition it was the crew from Titahi Bay that earned top honours - the team sealing a spot in the New Zealand side to go to Australia later this summer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Would you like to see the development of the Hamilton Gardens fast-tracked?Related story: Hardaker aims to reinvest in Hamilton