It was an “immensely busy” weekend for lifeguards across the country according to Surf Life Saving New Zealand, with almost 32,000 people out on Kiwi beaches across the country.

Strong currents and surging surf on many coastlines resulted 45 rescues and 54 assists performed nationally on Saturday and Sunday.

Surf lifeguards were also kept exceptionally busy with 1086 preventative actions, SLSNZ said. More than half of these were carried out by lifeguards patrolling in the Northern Region.

SLSNZ chief executive officer Stever Fisher said surf lifeguards in the region did exceptionally well in keeping the public safe, given how busy their beaches were.

Head counts peaked at 18,050 on Saturday and 3350 on Sunday in the northern region.

“Our surf lifeguards were kept exceptionally busy over the weekend — not just performing rescues but taking proactive actions to stop potentially dangerous situations from escalating into a rescue scenario, or worse,” he said.

“There were several incidents that could have been avoided had beach-goers followed our safety messaging – in particular to always swim between the red and yellow flags. Water conditions can change incredibly quickly, so between the flags is always the safest place to swim.”

Avoidable incidents also occurred in other regions, including multiple people being rescued from rips in the Eastern Region. In the Southern Region, Taylors Mistake surf lifeguards rescued a 40-year-old male caught in a rip.

The man was wearing jeans, and was incredible lucky the surf lifeguards spotted him, said SLSNZ.

Fisher said it is important to remind the public the weight of clothing — uch as jeans, long T-shirts or dresses — increases dramatically when it gets wet, making swimming difficult.

“It is critical to wear appropriate swimming gear when entering the water,” he said.

“It could be the difference between life and death.”