While it's been a good year for life savers around the country, people still need a better awareness of rips, an expert says.
National Lifesaving Manager Allan Mundy told TVNZ1's Breakfast today, as surf lifesavers wrap up for another year, there had been record numbers of beachgoers, but the rescues were down.
But while the news was positive and people were relatively clued up on the surf, often people could not identify rips, he said.
"Rips are still a major part of what lifeguards have to do with regards with keeping people safe. Eighty-five per cent of all the work we do is based around getting people out of rips or moving them away from rips or identifying them."
A rip safety campaign - called the "three R's" - has been launched to educate beachgoers on the topic.
The campaign was about teaching people what to do if they get into a rip. Mr Mundy's said the tips were to relax and float, raise your hand and ride the rip.
"What we do know Kiwi's do really, really poorly is they don't estimate their fitness," he said. "We were all taught to swim, we've got good scholastic swimming ability in this country ... but if you're in a rip you have to be swimming for a good couple of minutes and your fitness runs out really quickly.
"Fitness is directly related to the ability to not panic so if you're buggered panic kicks in and you're swimming ability's all out the door."
Surf Lifesaving patrols have wrapped up at the end of Easter, so Mr Mundy recommended people who spot someone in danger call 111 and ask for police.