Two university students have found themselves in the top 20 out of 1,000 entries of a prestigious invention competition after inventing a life-saving buoy which alerts swimmers to the exact location of rips.
Named the Nah Yeah Buoy, the 3D-printed device flashes a red light when it detects rips. Lifeguards can change the lights manually if they see a hazard, and the buoys can also communicate with each other.
The Victoria University students entered the James Dyson Award, of Dyson vacuums, up against professional inventors around the world.
Co-inventor Chamonix Stuart said it was "surreal" that the project, which started in the classroom, had ended up in the top 20.
"In class, we were asked to solve a problem, and I looked at what problems are in New Zealand and what can we do to prevent them," she said.
"I found out that drowning is the highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand."
Rips present a huge risk for beach-goers in New Zealand. In the last decade, 51 fatalities have been linked to rips and almost 700 non-fatal rip rescues are carried out annually.
Co-inventor Hannah Tilsley said they had to learn "a whole new technology" to create Yeah Nah Buoy.
"We had to learn as we went along," she said.
The device still needs development to get it off the ground. The light to alert swimmers, for example, is not strong enough yet.
Results of the award will be announced in a month's time.