Karioitahi Beach claims life of surfer

By Te Kāea

We're only into day four of the holiday drowning toll and it already stands at three, following the death of a surfer at Karioitahi Beach, 70km from South Auckland.

Two members of the public and up to 12 surf life savers at Karioitahi Beach battled in vain to save a 47-year-old who was surfing there.

According to surf life saver, Mike Lawrence, “a surfer got into some difficulty about a kilometre north of the surf club, he was waving for assistance, some brave members of the public did swim out and pull him back to shore, at that time he was unconscious, so they began CPR and came back to the surf club to alert us of the situation.

While beach conditions in the area are known to be dangerous, the beach is not commonly known for drowning.

Mike Lawrence says, “It's really exposed to the Tasman Sea, and we get some big swells coming in, and a strong south westerly wind is our traditional weather, so yes it is a dangerous beach, and the surf can get quite heavy as well.”

It's been three years since the last tragedy occurred here. For the man who drowned here yesterday, Mike Lawrence explains it was the first time the man had gone out to surf.

“We understand he got a surfboard for Christmas, so he was out enjoying that on the first day, the surf condition for surfers was nice, but unfortunately a sad end to his day.”

The deceased is now with the Coroner. Details are yet to be released.

The holiday toll for drowning ends on January 5.