Mangawhai Heads beach more dangerous than usual – Surf Lifeguards warn

For Surf Life Saving Northern Region

Mangawhai lifeguards are warning beachgoers to avoid the south end of the beach, after rescuing two 10-year-old girls from an inshore hole on 4 October.

A deep trough in the sand (a hole) has recently formed at the beach; the hole opens up near the shore as the tide goes out and can easily pull in children and those who aren’t confident swimmers.

Mangawhai Heads Emergency Callout Squad leader Jess Costello says the club had just finished a joint training session with Waipū Cove Surf Club, when the girls got into trouble just before 4pm. Two local surfers helped keep the girls afloat while Costello paddled out on a rescue board. She pulled one onto the board and with the assistance of one of the surfers, got both back to shore where their waiting family were very thankful.

“The hole is quite deceptive because it looks like a calm patch of water so people think it’s safe to swim there, when in fact it’s the opposite,” says Costello. “If people do get caught in a hole or a rip they need to relax, float on the back and raise their hand to signal for help. It’s also important for children to be supervised and within arm’s reach at all times when in the water. The risk is greater at times like this when lifeguards are not on duty.”

Costello says calling 111 and asking Police for the lifeguards is the best thing to do if you see someone in trouble in the water. “Sunday was all about ensuring the Mangawhai and Waipū Emergency Callout Squads are rescue ready as we head into the summer and it’s pretty crazy that was put to the test on the same day!” she says.

It’s the second rescue Mangawhai Heads ECOS has performed recently, after rescuing four fishers off the rocks on 22 August.

Waipū Cove ECOS also saved the life of a kayaker recently, after their kayak started to sink 1.5km off the Waipu Rivermouth on 27 August 27. Husband and wife team, Kath and Tim Manning, crewed the IRB that performed the rescue and say the kayaker’s lifejacket saved his life.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Matt Williams says the Bream Bay area is a current hotspot for rescues. “It is probably down to the recent spell of good weather and more people on the coast during school holidays,” he says.

Williams says there are 10 key safety messages beachgoers need to keep in mind when heading to the coast.

Those messages are:

  1. Choose a patrolled beach and swim between the flags
  2. Ask a lifeguard for advice
  3. Don't overestimate your ability
  4. Keep young children within arm’s reach at all times
  5. Never swim or surf alone
  6. Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you away from shore
  7. When fishing from rocks, always wear a lifejacket
  8. If in doubt, stay out!
  9. If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and ask for Police
  10. Be sun smart – Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.

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