Police say they do not know yet whether speed or alcohol were factors in a crash that killed four people at a beach in Auckland's west
Four men died when their 4-wheel drive rolled on Muriwai beach, which is open to vehicles, just before 5pm today.
An earlier report that one of the people killed was a 12-year-old boy is incorrect.
Two helicopters and more than a dozen police cars, fire engines and ambulances went to the scene, about 40 kms west of Auckland's CBD.
Inspector Mark Fergus said emergency services had to work very quickly against time and tide to recover the bodies and the wreckage of the vehicle.
He said officers knew the names of the people who had died but would not say who they were until their relatives had been told.
He said it was too early to say what caused the crash and whether speed or alcohol contributed.
Local man, and former Radio New Zealand reporter, Richard Pamatatau, said it was a popular spot for off-roading.
"The beach is used a lot by four-wheel drive people or people just with a vehicle who want to head onto the black sands and drive fast.
"A lot of people do what are known as donuts - spinning their cards around. Some people also do things like surfing on bonnets behind the car, and it is not surprising that an accident has occurred.
"People who live out here often go 'it's only going to be a matter of time before there's a really big tragic accident'."
The police serious crash unit will investigate the accident.
Local police ran an operation earlier this year encouraging people to drive more safely on Muriwai beach, particularly in relation to speed.