More people could have died if locals had not rushed to the rescue of three people caught in a rip at a Hawke's Bay beach last night, say police.
A man has died and two others were taken to hospital after they got into trouble in the water at Waimarama Beach.
A group were swimming in chest-deep water in front of the surf club at about 6.50pm last night, when a man and woman started to be swept out to sea.
A third person also got into difficulty while trying to help the pair.
Police said local residents raised the alarm and entered the water to help, using a surfboard from the nearby surf club.
Several Waimarama Surf Club volunteers also helped rescue the three swimmers.
The man was not breathing when he was brought to shore, and surf lifesavers gave him CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the female was conscious but was flown to hospital.
A second male, who was a member of the public who had gone in to help, was also treated by ambulance staff.
Detective Mike Signal of Hawke's Bay police acknowledged the quick actions by the members of public who raised the alarm and went into the water to assist.
"Without this, police believe that there would have been more deaths."
Senior Waimarama surf lifesaver Phil Harmon said conditions were rough, but it was not a big sea.
He said there had been two rescues and 36 assists on the beach that day, with a number of "flash rips" catching people out.
In Manawatu, police are still searching for a teenage boy missing in the Rangitikei River. He was last seen in the river near a bridge that takes State Highway 3 over the river near Bulls late yesterday afternoon.
Surf lifesaving clubs in Auckland were also made to extend their patrol hours due to dangerous conditions caused by a strong swell and evening heat over the weekend.
More than 1200 people were at Muriwai beach on Saturday, resulting in 14 rescues and three incidents requiring first aid.
In Karekare nine people had to be rescued from the water, and in Orewa there were three major first aid incidents.