New Zealand's best surf lifesavers battle it out in annual 'Mount Monster'

New Zealand's elite surf lifesavers descended on Mount Maunganui today, taking part in the annual Mount Monster.

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New Zealand’s best of the best went up against each other in Mount Maunganui. Source: 1 NEWS

The grueling endurance race sees competitors square off in a 12km ski paddle, a 5km run, the famous "blowhole jump", a 1.5km swim before finally finishing with a 6lm board paddle and race to the finish line.

Finishing runner up in 2018, Joe Collins went one better this year, taking out the men's race in style.

"Oh it was tough man, just the whole time you had to work the whole way," he told 1 NEWS.

In the women's division, New Zealand rep Claudia Kelly came home in first place, in by far the strongest female field in the competition's history.

"I'm going to eat the biggest ice cream of my life, and I'm going to eat that pretty fast - and then probably do it all over again," Kelly joked.

Also spare a thought for Orewa's Cayleen Vester, performing a real life rescue mid race.