Rescuers in Auckland expect a busy start to 2021, with two girls hospitalized

There were eight rescue operations at Piha, Mangawhai Heads and Muriwai Beaches.  (File photo)

John Velvin / Staff

There were eight rescue operations at Piha, Mangawhai Heads and Muriwai Beaches. (File photo)

Two teenage girls spent the first day of 2021 in hospital after encountering strong waves on the west coast of Oakland – a stark warning to the Kiwis to respect the ocean this summer.

In Piha, a 13-year-old swallowed a large amount of water leaving her barely conscious, and after a few minutes in Morewi, a 14-year-old girl was thrown a strong wave.

The two girls were taken to hospital by Westpac Rescue helicopter.

Ari Beach, director of Surf Life Saving Northern Region, said the accidents were part of about 800 precautionary measures involving rescuers, affecting more than 4,300 beachgoers.

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More than 11,000 people flocked to the area’s 22 beaches as it was patrolling on New Year’s Day, as rangers remained busy on the coasts.

In total, eight were rescued at Piha, Mangawhai Heads and Muriwai Beaches.

Rescuers also assisted 18 swimmers before they ran into serious trouble and carried out 36 first-aid measures including nine major interventions.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, skewed jet skis operating at high speeds were dangerous for swimmers at Omaha, Takapuna, Orewa, Vinderholm and Mangawhai Heads.

The waves of Auckland's west coast are notorious for their part-time beach goers.

Lawrence Smith / Staff

The waves of Auckland’s west coast are notorious for their part-time beach goers.

“Mangaohai rangers went to help a man who suffered neck and head injuries after falling into the sand dunes,” said Beach.

At around 7 p.m., Piha’s dangerous surfing conditions forced the flags to be removed, while rescuers on Moriway remained hanging for an hour after they took the flags to keep an eye on the swimmers still at the beach.

Stay safe this summer

  • Choose a guarded beach and swim among the flags
  • Ask the rescuer for advice
  • Don’t overestimate your ability
  • Have young children on hand at all times
  • Do not swim or swim alone
  • Watch out for rip currents, they can carry you offshore
  • When hunting from rocks, always wear a life jacket
  • If in doubt, stay out
  • If you see someone in trouble, call 111 and call the police
  • Sun Clever – Slide, Slide, Slap & Roll.

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